By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis
BERLIN | BRUSSELS (IDN) – The future of relations between the ACP Group of 79 countries and the 28-nation EU after 2020, when the current partnership agreement comes to a close, promises to be a critical issue for the Joint Council of Ministers gathering in Senegal’s capital Dakar on April 28-29.
Though, according to the draft agenda endorsed by representatives of member states of the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change will draw the focus of the upcoming meeting.
The Council is the highest decision-making body of the ACP-EU Partnership under a legally-binding framework encompassing trade, political dialogue and development cooperation between the two groups of countries.
While their historic cooperation dates back several decades, both EU and the ACP are undergoing in-depth reflections on how to frame the future, in the light of key changes in the global environment.
Originally brought together as a result of the Association Clause in the Rome Treaty of 1957, which established the European Common Market, the Georgetown Agreement of 1975 formally established the ACP Group as an intergovernmental association.
But meanwhile the foremost goal of the Group is to promote South-South solidarity and North-South cooperation for the sustainable development of ACP countries and their successful integration into the world economy.
ACP Secretary General Dr. Patrick Gomes said: “The 41st session of the ACP-EU Council of Ministers will be a very significant event for the ACP Group, given the urgent and serious nature of some of the topics to our Member States. I am pleased that our meeting with the European representatives allowed for thorough and efficient discussions, and we look forward to a successful meeting in Dakar next month.”
At a meeting of the ACP-EU Committee of Ambassadors in Brussels on March 4, members agreed that the 2030 global development framework will have a significant bearing on future cooperation.
“The ACP Group is of the view that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), constitutes a comprehensive approach that aims to achieve sustainable development for our Member States. It is important that concrete measures be taken to align our priorities, and better position ourselves to implement the 2030 Agenda successfully,” said the Co-President of the ACP-EU Committee of Ambassadors, Roger-Julien Menga, Ambassador of the Republic of Congo.
Co-President Pieter de Gooijer, Ambassador of the Netherlands, declared: “The European Union is absolutely committed to continue to play a full, active and constructive role in the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, in cooperation with all partners and stakeholders. It is very important to ensure that the ACP-EU Partnership be brought in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.”
In addition to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change, adopted in December 2015 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP21 will be a major point on the agenda.
The ACP Secretariat press officer Josephine Latu-Sanft said that migration, development finance, private sector development and trade cooperation will also feature prominently on the programme.
The Joint Council will also address the state of negotiations and implementation of the ACP-EU Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) as well as the follow up from the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) held in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2015”.
The Council of Ministers is expected to further cast a close look at EU’s global strategy on foreign and security policy. “Ministers will receive an update on the preparations for the 8th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government, scheduled in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, from May 30 to June 1, 2016. this year, Latu-Sanft said.
The meeting of the ACP-EU joint Council of Ministers on April 28-29 will be preceded by the 103rd session of the ACP Council of Ministers from April 25 to 27, 2016.
The ACP Group is the largest transnational intergovernmental organisation of developing countries in the international system, with 79 member countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. [IDN-InDepthNews – 10 March 2016]
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Photo: 40th session of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly on December 4, 2015 in Brussels. Credit: ACP