Explaining the outcomes of negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Regional Economic Communities - comparing EU-CARIFORUM and EU-ECOWAS EPAs
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The European Commission has been negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with Regional Economic Communities of African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States since 2002. The outcomes have been mixed. The negotiations with the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) concluded rather more quickly than was initially envisaged, whereas negotiations with West African Economic Community (ECOWAS) and the remaining ACP regions have been dragging on for several years. This research consequently addresses the key question of what accounts for the variations in the EPA negotiation outcomes, making use of a comparative research approach. It evaluates the explanatory power of three research variables in accounting for the variation in the EPA negotiations outcomes – namely, Best Alternative to the Negotiated Agreement (BATNA); negotiation strategies; and the issues linkage approach – which are deduced from negotiation theory. Principally, the study finds that, the outcomes of the EPA negotiations predominantly depended on the presence or otherwise of a “Best Alternative” to the proposed EPA; that is then complemented by the negotiation strategies pursued by the parties, and the joint application of issues linkage mechanism which facilitated a sense of mutual benefit from the agreements.