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EU Free Trade Agreement (Peru/Colombia)

Volume 513: debated on Thursday 8 July 2010

13. If he will make representations to his EU counterparts to require that the proposed EU free trade agreement with Peru and Colombia undergoes ratification in each member state. (6692)

This Parliament will have a chance to examine properly the free trade agreement with Peru and Colombia. We expect that member states will need to ratify the agreement formally in 2011, but we will confirm that when the final texts are issued later this year.

I do not know whether it is because the Minister is a Lib Dem rather than a Conservative, but that is a much better answer than I got to this question on Tuesday from the Minister for Europe. Can he ensure that that happens? There are other countries that would like to slip past the fact that Colombia has a poor human rights record. There are more trade unionists killed in that country than in all the other countries in the world put together, and an enormous problem with displaced people. It is therefore vital that this House gets to choose whether to sign up to that free trade agreement. Will he ensure that every other country signs up to that and, if necessary, use his veto?

I am sure that my hon. Friend the Minister for Europe gave an excellent reply to the hon. Gentleman. In any event, I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman, because when he was Minister for Europe he negotiated one of the strongest ever human rights clauses in the FTA with Peru and Colombia, and he deserves the credit on behalf of many people in Colombia. He will know that legal advisers are now looking at the draft text and will have to decide whether it is known as a mixed agreement or a union-only agreement. Our belief is that it will be a mixed agreement and therefore that not just the European Parliament but all Parliaments will have to consider it. That will create the debate that the hon. Gentleman seeks.