Brussels, 10 October 2017/ ACP: Members of Parliament from 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries met with the Bureau of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors in the first joint session of its kind, to discuss issues related to major negotiations for a new partnership framework with the European Union.
Ahead of the 47th Session of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly this week, the Ambassador of Ethiopia and outgoing Chairman of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors H.E. Teshome Toga Chanaka, sitting in for the Chairman-in-Office, Ambassador Amadou Diop of Senegal, presided over an exchange of views between diplomats and politicians on ACP-EU relations post-2020.
“While there is still a bit of time before formal consultations between our two parties begin sometime in 2018, I would like to urge us to be proactive in bringing out the positive results and acquis of the ACP-EU relationship over the past [42] years, and to develop a strategy for engaging institutions and individuals that will be influential in the decision-making process about the future of the relationship, such as Members of the European Parliament,” Ambassador Chanaka said in his opening statement.
President of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly, Hon. Ibrahim Rassin Bundu of Sierra Leone welcomed the exchange and encouraged all parties to work together for the benefit of all ACP populations.
“Although it will be ministers and ambassadors that will negotiate, they need to do so on the basis of views that represent all the divergent needs and interests of the ACP Group. The ACP we want, must be people-driven and not just the preserve of government representatives because the issues touch on the ordinary lives of all ACP citizens. The ACP Parliamentary Assembly looks forward to having a more substantive role in the new institutional framework of the reformed ACP Group," stated Hon. Bundu.
The ACP Secretary General Dr. Patrick Gomes made a presentation on the working policy document entitled "Towards the ACP we want", which outlines the vision, goals and rationale for the ACP Group as an international actor in the 21st century, the three strategic pillars that would guide the work of the ACP for a “reinvented” future, and elements for consideration in a renegotiated relationship with the EU.
Issues raised included the need for greater political commitment from member states; structural, institutional and governance reforms; and securing financial sustainability. Members debated the three focus pillars for the ACP post-2020, including (i) Trade, Investments, Industrialisation and Services; (ii) Development Cooperation, Technology, Science and Innovation/Research and (iii) Political Dialogue and Advocacy.
Dr. Gomes also informed the Assembly of the progress made in preparations for the negotiations process, including the planned formation of a Central Negotiating Group, at the ministerial and ambassadorial levels, as well as Technical Negotiating Teams to face the EU in mid-2018 when the negotiations are expected to start.
A thorough debate with the parliamentarians highlighted the common interest in ensuring a more “balanced” partnership with the European Union, one that would promote the structural transformation of ACP economies. At the same time, there was a strong call for parliamentarians to be more closely involved, better informed, and well-integrated in the monitoring, governance and operations of the work of the ACP Group. Members of the Assembly also urged more detailed information from the ACP Ambassadors and Secretariat on the way forward, to be able to mobilise support on the ground for ACP goals, as well as improved communication between Brussels-based ACP embassies and national parliament representatives.
Following the debate, the Bureau of the Committee of Ambassadors – which includes representatives of the six ACP regions as well as the incoming and outgoing chairs – thanked the parliamentary members for the quality and constructiveness of their inputs.
The ACP Parliamentary Assembly brings together Members of Parliaments from the 79 Member States of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group. Twice a year they meet with Members of the European Parliament in the framework of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly to hold frank and open dialogue on common concerns. The 47th Session of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly Wednesday opens on the 11th of October 2017 followed by inter-sessional meetings of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.
(Photos from top: (from left) Interim President of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly Hon. Ibrahim Rassin Bundu of Sierra Leone with the ACP Secretary General Dr. Patrick Gomes and outgoing Chairman of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors, Ambassador Teshome Chanaka of Ethiopia; Members of Parliament from Samoa, Kenya, and Mali amongst the Assembly members; Jacob Oulanya, MP and Deputy Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament; ACP Parliamentary Assembly members).
– ACP Press