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Pesticides row adds to toxic relations

African parliamentarians have accused European Union economies of exporting carcinogenic pesticides to their countries, adding to mounting tensions over trading rules and migration

Speakers at the joint parliament assembly between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific in Brussels, on 2 March accused EU countries of double standards by exporting to Africa products containing toxic pesticides which are banned in the EU.

'Our argument is that, if the European Union and Britain are allowing cancer causing pesticides to be manufactured in their own countries, exclusively to be exported to African countries, that's not an act of good faith,' said Gladys Boss Shollei, the Deputy Speaker of Kenya's National Assembly

She said the EU has a trade agreement that protects its people from harmful pesticides but 'has laws that allow the banned chemicals to come into Africa'.

EU rules require that any firm wishing to export chemicals which are banned across the EU-27 needs to produce an 'export notification' detailing the reasons the product is banned, its intended uses and the amount the company intends to ship. National and EU regulators check the documents and issue them to authorities in the destination countries.

This latest row follows rumbling disputes between the organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific states (APC) and the EU over the delay to the ratification of the post-Cotonou treaty between the two blocs. Hungary is threatening to veto the ratification on the grounds that the treaty's provisions on the repatriation of migrants are too weak (AC Vol 64 No 2, Grand ambitions, little money).

'With one EU member state still refusing to accept the new Agreement, we call on the EU Council and the Swedish Council Presidency to not spare any efforts to quickly sign the new agreement,' said the two co-presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Portuguese socialist Carlos Zorrinho and Mozambique lawmaker, Ana Rita Sithole in a joint statement on Friday (3 March).

'The Cotonou Agreement has been extended multiple times. The latest extension will expire at the end of June 2023, leading to a legal gap that would mean that the JPA meetings could no longer take place. Time is running out,' they added.

However, there is no sign of Hungary of dropping its veto. The delay embarrasses EU officials who can see that the failure to ratify the treaty is taken as a sign of bad faith and holds back progress in other areas.

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