EU-ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreement: Nigeria's Role in ensurnig Development-Focus and Regional Integration

The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) are far from the original development-focused agreements aimed at strengthening regional integration as envisaged by the ACP countries and the EU in the context of the Cotonou Agreement. This paper aims to articulate strategies that should guide West Africa’s development-focused EPA negotiations, and to highlight Nigeria’s role as a key player in the region. Noting that the current global financial crisis will further increase ECOWAS countries’ vulnerability in an anti-development EPA regime, this paper analyses Nigeria’s rejection of the interim agreement and underlines EU’s neglect of the development dimensions. It also studies the negative impact on the regional integration process resulting from the agreement. Furthermore, this paper discusses key issues in the EPA negotiations, and analyses the critical implications of the EU mandate that ECOWAS countries need to be conscious of. Finally, the paper suggests negotiating strategies for ensuring that the ECOWAS integration process is strengthened and that Nigeria (and West Africa) would get development benefits from the EPA. The conclusion is that ECOWAS must aim for an innovative EPA, which ties reciprocity to achievement of basic development thresholds in member countries. The paper also recommends that supply response capacities of individual countries must be developed ahead of the agreements.