Image Credit: European Commission - Photo: 2018

The ACP Group Deepens Ties with the EU for Global Actions

By Phil Pascal

The writer is a Caribbean journalist and Commentator on development issues. This is the second article in a two-part Series on the next stage of ACP-EU relations in the Post-Cotonou Agreement with the EU. In the earlier commentary the writer explained the principles and processes by which the ACP Group has set about establishing the inclusive and participatory inter-governmental framework for negotiations of a Post-Cotonou Partnership Agreement (PCPA).

BRIDGETOWN (ACP-IDN) –The single undertaking of the new Agreement builds on the successes of the present one signed in Cotonou, Benin in West Africa for a 20-year period. But it also shows evidence of being ready to critique weaknesses and adapt seriously to the changing circumstances – political, economic and cultural – of the 21st century.

From a brief examination of the ACP Negotiating Mandate and EU’s Negotiating Directives, one can see that the principal objective of the PCPA, as agreed within the two groupings, is to contribute to the attainment of sustainable development in all African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, defined as an inter-governmental group by the Georgetown Agreement.[1]

To contribute this, the ACP and EU declare that the driving motivating force will be a strengthened and deepened political and economic partnership, in which the ACP Group assumes the role of a more effective global player.

The PCPA will enable ‘Alignment to the UN’s Agenda 2030‘ and the SDGs as the overarching development framework of the Agreement. Operationally, the two groupings will bring to bear their numerical strength, common policies and mutual interests, once agreed, to give due cognizance to UN Conferences and Summits, as for example, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the UN Declaration on the Right to Development, as well as continental and regional agendas such as Agenda 2063 in Africa.

These global actions will aim at the deepening and widening of regional integration of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Integration Organisations (RIOs) in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

The PCPA will contain essential and fundamental elements to reaffirm commitment to democracy, peace and security, post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation, in recognition of the pre-eminence of these issues to sustainable development and vice-versa.

The new agreement furthermore builds on the limited success of the current efforts aimed at the promotion of regional integration, and respect for the principles of subsidiarity, complementarity, and proportionality in relation to regional and continental groupings, as well as maintaining the geographical and geopolitical character of the ACP Group.

Multilateral trade and private sector development

Yet another objective is critical assessment and support for multilateralism, and a fair and equitable rules-based world order to resolve global challenges and concerns. This approach by the ACP includes the rejection of unilateral coercive and arbitrary measures contrary to international law. Of great concern to the ACP is a thorough critique of black lists and certifications in the areas of financial services that affect ACP States.

In recognition of a rules-based international trading system, there will be scope for promotion of preferential trading arrangements, including those among ACP countries as envisaged by the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) or the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and WTO-compatible Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

Along with the defense of rules-based trade, an important innovative element of the PCPA is the increased role of the private sector in the social and economic transformation of ACP Member States.

This is portrayed in particular, in various measures such as by improving the business climate for private sector development; strengthening entrepreneurship as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); increasing access to financing for MSMEs; and improving competitiveness and access for MSMEs to national, regional and global markets.

To those specific sectoral issues, the ACP has identified major cross-cutting themes that must be anchored in the central core of common interests and values as shared priorities to bind the groupings of ACP and EU states in undertaking effective global or regional actions in keeping with principles of subsidiarity, complementarity and proportionality..

The thematic issues to be addressed will include: capacity building; vulnerability and resilience building; ocean and seas; climate change and environment; gender equality; health; youth and demographic dividend; culture and development; peace, security and democracy.

Those cross-cutting themes, not as sectors in their own right will be addressed in the three strategic pillars, the ACP Mandate has identified on which to build the realisation of sustainable development in ACP member states.

Strategic pillars and a dedicated financial protocol

Briefly described below the three pillars are:

Pillar 1: Trade, Investment, Services and Industrialization. The overall objective of this pillar is to implement trade, investment, industrialization and services policies that would positively address the challenges associated with inequality, poverty, underdevelopment and vulnerability in a shared pursuit of sustainable development.

Pillar 2: Development Cooperation, Technology, Science and Research and Innovation. This Pillar redefines the concept and practice of development cooperation, moving away from the perception of “aid-dependency” to development finance cooperation in its entirety, while reiterating the need for development finance modalities to be more targeted, flexible and predictable.

These are underpinned by full respect and observance of the principles of co-management and joint decision-making. It is also emphasised that development cooperation contributes to the socio-economic benefits produced by increased investments in science and technology, as well as from the economic and social benefits emanating from enhanced research and innovation capacity. In this sense, the pillars are not mutually inclusive but complement each other for a cumulative impact that can be transferred by application to regional contexts.

In the new Agreement, the modalities of development finance cooperation shall include the provision of adequate and predictable financial resources, expressed in the form of a dedicated Financial Protocol.

Moreover, appropriate technical assistance and capacity building, to support and promote the efforts of ACP States to achieve the objectives set out in the Agreement, on the basis of mutual interest and in a spirit of partnership, must continue as an essential feature of development cooperation.

Pillar 3: Political Dialogue and Advocacy. As essential elements of the Agreement political dialogue and advocacy are complementary. The aim of Political Dialogue must be to achieve practical and peaceful solutions to global challenges faced by the ACP Group and contribute to building peaceful and stable societies as called for in SDG 16.

This entails to strengthen policy frameworks, legitimacy of institutions, enable access to justice and provide an opportunity to define common actions and commitments in areas of mutual interest including fundamental freedoms, rule of law, peace, security and stable societies.

In relation to Advocacy, the objective would be to fully harness the ACP Group’s potential, leveraging its numerical strength and competencies to promote the collective cause of its membership at the regional global levels.

In this regard the ACP Group will seek meaningful consultations and strengthened cooperation with the EU within international fora, as well as promoting and sustaining effective multilateralism.

In conclusion, it is important to note that in the new Agreement, the ACP strongly proposes that the means and modalities for the implementation of the SDGs must of necessity include the provision of adequate and predictable financial resources, expressed in the form of a dedicated Financial Protocol.

This is a sine qua non to achieve the objectives set out in the Agreement on the basis of mutual interest and in a spirit of partnership.

In this regard, provision of a dedicated Multiannual Financial Mechanism available to all ACP States, including those that have or will graduate to Middle-Income Status, must aim to deliver substantial and predictable resources to realize the objectives of and to incorporate the internationally-agreed principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

But more importantly, such a mechanism will contribute to the design and implementation of programmes that promote the structural transformation of ACP economies and societies and realize the goals of sustainable development.

Herein lies the fundamental basis by which the UN’s Agenda 2030 can become concrete reality in the lives of people in both ACP and EU countries.  [IDN-InDepthNews – 08 August 2018]

Image Credit: European Commission

This report is part of a joint project of the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States and IDN, flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

[1] The Georgetown Agreement, the constitutive Act establishing the ACP Group was first signed in 1975 in Georgetown, the capital city of Guyana the membership is composed of 48 Sub-saharan African, 16 Caribbean and 15 Pacific countries. Six North African Arab countries have a special partnership Agreement with the EU.

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top