ACP Group set to negotiate modern post Cotonou Agreement as single entity
BRUSSELS, CMC- African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of Ministers, which is currently chaired by Jamaica, is to meet in Togo later this month amid what ACP officials have described as “a very crucial time of the ACP-European Union relations”.
The ACP Council of Ministers is the main decision-making body of the ACP Group under the Summit of Heads of State and Government.
“This meeting remains an important milestone towards opening negotiations with the countries of the Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States and the European Union. Seventy-nine countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific will speak with one voice as they prepare to adopt a negotiating mandate between the ACP and the EU post -Cotonou Agreement, “ACP Secretary General Dr. P.I, Gomes said at a media briefing today.
The 107th session of the ACP Council will be held from May 29-30 and Gomes said there will be a special session of ACP Council of Ministers May 27 dedicated to post Cotonou negotiations.
The Cotonou Agreement is a treaty between the European Union and the ACP that was signed in June 2000 in Cotonou, Benin’s largest city. It entered into force in 2003 and was subsequently revised in 2005 and 2010.
It is regarded as the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU and in 2010, ACP-EU cooperation has been adapted to new challenges such as climate change, food security, regional integration, state fragility and aid effectiveness.
The fundamental principles of the Cotonou Agreement include equality of partners, global participation, dialogue and regionalisation. The agreement is re-examined every five years.
“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,” said the Guyana-born diplomat.
The ACP Secretariat said the Council meeting will address strategic matters such as repositioning the ACP group as a member states.
The ministers will also address ways of leveraging the principles of complementarity and subsidiarity between the ACP Group and the Regional and Continental organisations, sustaining financing of the group and lastly advancing the climate change agenda in a repositioned ACP Group.
Gomes said that central to the discussions in Lome is the revision of the Georgetown agreement including the examination of provisions such as the preamble of the Agreement, the criteria and categories of membership in the organisation, paying close attention to the call of ACP Heads of State and Government at their Seventh Summit in 2012 for “contacts and relations with other States and groups of States” to feature prominently.
Other key items on the agenda include commodities and trade issues, sustainable economic development, and development finance.
In the margins of the ACP Council of Ministers, an inter-agency consultation will be held with the continental and regional organisations, such as the African Union Commission (AUC), CARICOM, Pacific Island Forum (PIF) on May 26.
“The ACP Group recognises the important and active role played by the regional and continental organisations and calls for need to preserve and built upon such collaboration in a post –Cotonou Agreement,” Gomes said, adding the focus of the meeting will be to ensure the contributions of the RECS and RIOS into the ACPs Group Negotiating Framework for a post-Cotonou Agreement.