Negotiation phase of a VPA process
In the negotiation phase, the EU and the timber-exporting country agree the main text and annexes of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). Before this can happen, negotiations take place within and among stakeholder groups in the timber-exporting country.
The in-country negotiations contribute to the national consensus that forms the basis of a country's negotiating position with the EU. There are, therefore, three levels of negotiations in this phase (Figure 2).
- National negotiations within government, the private sector and civil society
- National negotiations among government, the private sector and civil society
- Bilateral negotiations between the partner country and the EU
Figure 2. Three levels of negotiation in a VPA process: within stakeholder groups, among stakeholder groups and between the EU and a partner country
During the negotiation phase, stakeholders in the EU and the timber-exporting country may also engage the wider public at local, national and international scales. Engagement may include press releases, progress reports and public meetings to inform the public about the VPA, raise the profile of its reforms and reaffirm VPA principles of inclusivity, transparency and accountability. Such activities bring visibility and momentum to a VPA process by building political support and encouraging participation. This also contributes to consensus building.