For more than ten years the European Union has been negotiating economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with regional groupings in Africa. These free trade agreements are dedicated first and foremost to the goal of sustainable development. While African governments are wary of the consequences of market opening and sceptical of restrictions of their policy space, they are also interested in gaining access to the EU market. The European Union’s decision to restrict free market access as of 1 October 2014 to countries and regions that exhibit a clear intention to ratify such agreements has injected pressure and momentum into the talks. The negotiations can be concluded constructively if both sides accept necessary compromises. That demands movement, not least at the very top.