The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) is a unique and permanent democratic institution which brings together an equal number of elected Members of Parliament from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states and Members of the European Parliament.
Most of the work of the JPA is directed towards promoting human rights, democracy and greater understanding and cooperation between the European Union and the ACP states. The JPA aims to monitor the progress of the partnership and its contribution to the social and economic development of ACP states, as well as trade relations. To this ends, the JPA discusses and adopts resolutions on a variety of issues covered by the partnership, makes recommendations and contributes to parliamentary oversight.
A new framework for parliamentary cooperation beyond 2021
A new Agreement between the Organisation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), which was negotiated from September 2018 to December 2020 will soon replace the Cotonou Agreement. The new agreement also provides for a concrete institutional parliamentary dimension based on annual meetings of the JPA and, in addition, the setting up of three Regional Parliamentary Assemblies (RPAs) for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific respectively. These RPAs will bring together Members of the European Parliament and parliamentarians from the ACP countries, who will at the same time be Members of the JPA, thus ensuring links between the different pillars and levels of the partnership.
Current composition and working methods
Under the Cotonou Agreement, which was concluded in 2000 for 20 years, the representatives of the 78 Members of the OACPS meet their 78 European Parliament counterparts in plenary session for one week twice a year. The representatives of the OACPS must under normal circumstances be Members of Parliament. The JPA meets alternately in an OACPS or an EU Member State. The Assembly adopted its own Rules of Procedure to establish its way of functioning and ensure sound democratic practices.
The Assembly elects 2 Co-Presidents to direct its work, and also elects 24 Vice-Presidents (12 European and 12 ACP). The two Co-Presidents and the 24 Vice-Presidents constitute the JPA Bureau. The Bureau meets at least four times a year in order to ensure the continuity of the JPA’s work and to prepare new initiatives aiming in particular to boost and improve cooperation. It also considers topical political questions and adopts positions on all human rights cases.
Three standing committees were created in 2003 to draw up substantive proposals which are then put to the vote in the JPA plenary. These Committees are:
The Assembly regularly organises exploratory or fact-finding missions. JPA Members are thus in direct contact with the situation on the ground in the various developing countries which are signatories of the Cotonou Agreement. The impact of the JPA’s work thus goes well beyond economic considerations, and embraces the fundamental objectives of the Cotonou Agreement to ‘promote and expedite the economic, cultural and social development of the ACP States, with a view to contributing to peace and security and to promoting a stable and democratic political environment (Article 1)’.
The ACP-EU JPA is a democratic, parliamentary body that aims to promote and defend democratic processes in order to guarantee the right of each people to choose its own development objectives and how to attain them.