Press Release on Lome Convention

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Press release: Thursday 1 June 2000


During the negotiations on the new Lomé Convention - £8.5 billion aid and trade for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries - the EU imposed a draconian repatriation clause obliging the ACP countries to take back not only their own nationals, but also those of other countries ("stateless" people) and rejected asylum-seekers.

A report published in Statewatch today shows how the ACP states had little choice but to accept the "readmission" clause, despite taking the view that it had no basis in international law - a view shared by the EU Council's own legal service.

The readmission clause was not introduced until the `last minute' - at the final negotiating session on 7 December 1999.

The way the EU agreed on the imposition of the clauses on the ACP by-passed democratic scrutiny by the European and national parliaments. The UK Home Office described the draft decision as "suddenly appearing" on the agenda. The EU ignored the Amsterdam Treaty requirement that the European Parliament be consulted.

When questioned on how the measure was able to escape parliamentary scrutiny UK Home Office Minister, Barbara Roche, described it as a "non-contentious" measure. Lord Tordoff, chair of the House of Lords EU Select Committee found this response "unsatisfactory".

Tony Bunyan, editor of Statewatch, said:

"The Justice and Home Affairs council just nodded the readmission clauses through - without debate - even though the report was not meant to be on the agenda. Accountability to parliaments was simply ignored in order to railroad the ACP countries in the negotiations five days later - where it was claimed that it was the policy agreed by the JHA Council and therefore mandatory.

If parliaments and civil society had known that the EU was going to make aid and development funds for the world's poorest countries dependent on agreeing to "repatriation" they might have had something to say about it."

The feature is on the internet on:

together with two other stories from Statewatch bulletin (vol 10 no 2) concerning the by-passing of parliamentary scrutiny on EU justice and home affairs measures: 1) EU officials to decide on European Parliament's influence; 2) JHA Council authorises Europol to start negotiating the exchange of intelligence data.

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For further information:

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor:

Statewatch office:

00 44 (0) 208 1802 1882

Note for Editors

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