ACP countries to negotiate as a unified entity with EU
Brussels: Seventy-nine countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific will speak with one voice as they prepare to negotiate a major partnership framework with the European Union.
The new accord will follow on the current ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (also known as the Cotonou Agreement), which covers trade, development cooperation and political dialogue between the two parties until 2020.
Leading up to the launch of negotiations for the post-Cotonou period in 2018, there is a clear common interest in aligning future ACP-EU cooperation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Wide stakeholder consultations are envisaged by the ACP Group while some basic premises have been discussed by member state representatives in Brussels and shared with European counterparts at the ACP-EU Committee of Ambassadors, under the Malta’s presidency of the EU.
“These basic principles highlight the importance the ACP Group places on negotiating as a unified entity, aiming for a mature political partnership based on mutual respect. The ultimate aim is to facilitate poverty eradication, sustainable development and improve the livelihoods of the one billion people that live in our countries,” stated ACP Secretary General Patrick I. Gomes.
Based on the outcomes of the 7th an 8th Summits of ACP Heads of State and Government in 2012 and 2016 respectively, several basic points have been outlined to guide member states in preparing for negotiations to reshape relations with the EU after 2020:
1) The ACP Group of States is committed to remain united as an inter-governmental organisation;
2) As a unified trans-regional entity, the ACP Group will negotiate a successor agreement to the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement;
3) Formally structured relations with regional and continental groupings of developing countries will be an important aspect of the negotiations;
4) Principles and mechanisms for inclusive policy formulation, decision-making and programme implementation with Non-State Actors will be given serious consideration during the negotiations;
5) The substantive thematic areas and pillars of an ACP-EU post-Cotonou Agreement are (i) Trade, Investment, Industrialisation and Services; (ii) Development Cooperation, Technology, Science and Innovation/Research; and (iii) Political dialogue and Advocacy;
6) An ACP-EU post-Cotonou Agreement should maintain the core geographic and geopolitical character of the ACP Group structured in six regions of Central, East, Southern and West Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific, while being open to different types of association with other developing countries;
7) The negotiation process is envisaged as leading to a legally binding agreement;
8) A dedicated development finance mechanism is to be included within a negotiation framework for an ACP-EU post-Cotonou Agreement.
In addition, the ACP Group will also advocate for preferential trading agreements that are development-oriented, as well as structural support for debt management, trade facilitation and innovative development financing, especially for members with Middle Income status.
ACP and European countries have been in a comprehensive and structured partnership since 1975. The current treaty between the two blocs — the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement — was signed in 2000 for a period of 20 years. Joint ACP-EU actions and programmes under the partnership have made valuable contributions to the sustainable development and growth of ACP developing countries, as well as global development objectives.