By Robert Johnson
BRUSSELS | NAIROBI (ACP-IDN) – The co-presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) have welcomed the commitment of the 79-nation African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the 28-nation European Union (EU) to negotiate a successor Agreement to the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement. The 15th Regional Meeting of the JPA took place in Kenya’s capital Nairobi from April 11-13, 2018.
The Agreement, signed in Cotonou on June 23, 2000, was concluded for a 20-year period from 2000 to 2020. It is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU. In 2010, ACP-EU cooperation was adapted to new challenges such as climate change, food security, regional integration, State fragility and aid effectiveness.
The ACP-EU commitment was expressed in the Declarations of the 7th and 8th Summits of ACP Heads of State and Government in 2012 and 2016, respectively, and in the European Union’s 2016 Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council: A renewed partnership with the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
The co-presidents emphasise that the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement has been a valuable and unique achievement that has strengthened bonds between ACP and EU peoples and countries and their parliaments throughout the last 40 years.
The strengths and acquis of the Cotonou Agreement, they say, are based on several unique characteristics such as a legally binding document; an unparalleled numerical strength of 79 ACP and 28 EU member states; comprehensive coverage through the three pillars of development, political, and economic and trade cooperation; a joint institutional framework; and a large budget in the form of the European Development Fund (EDF).
According to the ACP-EU co-presidents, the pending expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in February 2020 offers the Parties the opportunity to renew, adapt and strengthen this partnership for future development challenges and opportunities building on the Yaoundé, Lomé and Cotonou acquis.
The Co-Presidents call on the Parties to take into account the ACP Group’s geographical representation and integrity, unity and solidarity in the negotiations. In this regard, the Co-Presidents emphasise the importance of the ACP Group and the EU negotiating as single and equal entities respectively based on the principle of single undertaking.
“The negotiations must not fragment the ACP Group into disparate entities, thereby undermining the values of unity and solidarity that have served the Group well during the four decades of its existence,” the JPA co-presidents say.
They acknowledge the need for the Post-Cotonou Agreement to accommodate ACP regional specificities, and to complement ACP regional integration and cooperation processes. “In this regard, Africa should be treated as one indivisible unit but within the existing ACP framework, with economic and political integration prioritized in accordance with Agenda 2063.”
The Co-Presidents reiterate the importance of a strong parliamentary dimension at all-ACP-EU level, as one of the instruments for political and economic dialogue deepening the democratic legitimacy of the Post-Cotonou Agreement. [IDN-InDepthNews – 24 April 2018]
Photo credit: Kenya Parliament
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