EU foreign relations director-general Eneko Landaburu on Monday urged Central American nations to choose a single negotiator for talks on an association agreement between the two trade blocs.
"On both sides we need to have one negotiator. Every time we have worked [in] this way. We have had successful results," Landaburu told reporters at the opening ceremony of the High Level Central Social and Economic Integration Forum, which runs from Monday to Tuesday in Costa Rica's capital San Jose.
"In the agreement we all signed in Rome in 2003, both sides agreed one negotiator [each]," he added.
Landaburu said that a single negotiator did not mean the loss of sovereignty for the negotiating nations.
He added that it was absolutely necessary if negotiations were to conclude by 2008.
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who also attended the Forum, said he did not agree. "I have already said on various occasions that the attempt to have one negotiator for Central America is unacceptable."
Costa Rica does not accept the agreement signed in June by the presidents of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama, to designate Nicaragua's Foreign Minister Norman Caldera as the single negotiator for the trade talks with the EU.
Arias was also critical of the EU's high agricultural subsidies, which he said were a barrier to interregional trade.
In 2005, Central America exported goods worth 2.21 billion U.S. dollars to the EU and imported goods worth 3.22 billion dollars, according to statistics released by the Central American Integration System.