Bananas have been some of the most sensitive goods in the negotiations on regional trade agreements between the European Union (EU) and the Andean countries, as well as those between the EU and Central American countries. As the largest exporter, Ecuador plays a critical role in setting world prices for the fruit. The EU, on the other hand, as the largest importer of bananas drives demand. An agreement between these two parties is likely to have significant impacts on the world market for bananas and the related development challenges .
Implemented by a joint initiative of ARL and DATAR (Délégation à l'Aménagement du Territoire et à l'Action Régionale) an international group of experts elaborated the Vision encompassing the shift from a sectoral, i.e. pure agricultural policy of today, to a territorial policy for rural regions to be implemented over a 25 year time horizon. This policy constitutes a desired vision for Europe's rural areas which requires: (1) appropriate institutions, (2) diversifying the economic activities in rural areas, and (3) integrating agricultural and rural policy. To achieve that shift to an integrated policy we need - new institutional frameworks, both on European and national levels, - effective instruments to guarantee the sustainable use of natural resources in agriculture, - the care for the rural population as a whole not only for farmers, - the improvement of quality products and production processes meeting the required environmental and animal welfare standards guaranteeing international competitiveness, - compatibility of the single European market for agricultural products with respect to prices and safety standards with commitments under the WTO, - a policy design and implementation at a decentralised level, and - a coordination of that policy at European and national levels for the benefit to implement the principles of solidarity and cohesion.