OACPS Ministers endorse new OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement, proposals on Fisheries and the EU Blacklist at 111th session of the Council of Ministers
Brussels, 18 December 2020/OACPS: Meeting virtually on 14, 15 and 17 December 2020, the Council of Ministers of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) approved eight decisions and two resolutions on key issues affecting its Member States (MS) and pertaining to the administrative and financial management of the Organisation during the 111th session of the OACPS Council of Ministers.
Chaired by H.E. Prof. Palamagamba John Aidan Mwaluko Kabudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation, United Republic of Tanzania, and President-in-Office of the OACPS Council of Ministers, the ministerial meeting brought together ministers, ambassadors and representatives from all of the OACPS’ 79 Member Countries across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Following the reaching of a political deal between the OACPS and the EU on 3 December 2020, the Council of Ministers endorsed the Political Agreement of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement. Making his final presentation on the Negotiations, H.E. Prof. Robert Dussey, Togo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Integration and Togolese Abroad, the OACPS’ Chief Negotiator and Chair of the Ministerial Central Negotiating Group, described the new Agreement as “strategic, people-centred and a force for advancing multilateralism.”
The new Partnership Agreement, which will have a significant impact on over 1.5 billion people across the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions and the European Union (EU), is currently undergoing legal scrubbing before the chief negotiators can initial the text in January of 2021, marking the end of the negotiations. The signature of the agreement will occur later in 2021 in, Apia, Samoa. The transitional measures for the Cotonou Partnership Agreement have also been extended to 30 November 2020.
Following through on Secretary-General, H.E. Mr Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti’s stated commitment to restructuring to make the Organisation fit-for-purpose, the Council approved several decisions in this sense.
With respect to the closure of the ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), which was to take effect from 31 December 2020, the recommendation made by the OACPS Committee of Ambassadors to extend the operations of the CTA and the term of office of members of the Executive Board to 30 November 2021 was also accepted.
Council received an update on the human rights situation in West Papua and called on the President of the OACPS Council of Ministers to write to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) to request an urgent mission to West Papua to provide an evidence-based, informed report on the human rights situation in that province as soon as possible.
Reaffirming the commitment of OACPS member countries to the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including achieving the time-bound target 14.6 of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 related to – Life Below Water, and in the hope of achieving a balanced outcome that positively impacts the health of fish stocks, ocean biodiversity and livelihoods, the Council emphasized the need for appropriate and effective treatment for Member States of the OACPS to assist them in building their capacity to exploit their fisheries resources and to comply with World Trade Organization (WTO) disciplines on fisheries subsidies.
The inclusion of Member States of the OACPS on the EU’s List of Third Countries at High Risk for Anti-Money Laundering and the Financing of Counter Terrorism (AML/CFT) continues to be a contentious issue for the OACPS despite the exchange of letters between the OACPS and the relevant EU institutions. In light of the existing situation, and recognizing that the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism is an immense global challenge and of equal concern to the OACPS as it is to the EU, the Council expressed its deep concern for the unilateral, non-transparent and discriminatory approach adopted by the EU in publishing the list of “small developing countries”, especially with respect to the additional socio-economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and recommends a programme of action to effect a reasonable compromise in response to the situation.
The signed list of decisions and resolutions will be posted in due course.