Up until late 2009, 261 Least Developed Countries will continue to receive unrestricted access to the European market under the "Everything but Arms" program. After that date, the only remaining alternative offered those countries by the European Union will be signature of an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), an alternative the vast majority of those countries oppose.
For the time being, therefore, Africans continue to rally just as strongly against the EPAs. The first few weeks of 2008 were marked by two large protests: 2,000 protested in the streets of Dakar and 3,000 in Brussels on January 8 and 11, respectively, to express their opposition. Regarding the protests, Justin Kalounga, Spokesperson of the Africa Connection delegation,2 stressed the fact that the protesters were trying to "prove to the international community that Africa is entitled to its say about its own development. Taken as a whole, Africa rejects the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), which impose a premature and dangerous liberalization of the continent's economy, and is instead proposing a development partnership that takes into account the national, regional and continent-wide goals of economic growth, food sovereignty, industrialization, integration and development."
Although the crucial issue of development constitutes the core concern of the protestors, the European Commission seems to have placed that issue on the "back burner," particularly since the "intermediate" EPAs are very limited in scope.3