(Photo: à l'ouverture de la 46ème session de L'Assemblée Parlementaire ACP, de gauche à droite -Secrétaire Général du Groupe ACP S.E. Dr Patrick I. Gomes, Secrétaire Général Adjoint du Groupe ACP chargé des Affaires Politiques et du Développement Humain Amb. Leonard Emile Ognimba, Coprésidente intérimaire de l'Assemblée Parlementaire Paritaire ACP-UE et 2ème Vice-Présidente de l'Assemblée Nationale du Togo L'hon. Mémounatou Ibrahima et le Président du Comité des Ambassadeurs ACP, l'Ambassadeur d'Éthiopie S.E. M. Teshome Toga Chanaka.)


Hon. Mémounatou Ibrahima, Acting President of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly

Honourable Members,

Excellencies ACP Ambassadors present

Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the ACP Group, I want to express a warm welcome to all of you distinguished parliamentarians to this 46th Session of the Parliamentary Assembly. Allow me to also say how delighted I am to have this opportunity to address your meeting this morning.
Before I proceed, let me thank you, Hon. Ibrahima Mémounatou, for having graciously accepted the responsibility of Acting President of the ACP PA and Acting Co-President of the JPA. Please be assured of the full support of the ACP Secretariat during your interim tenure.
On the same token, I wish to pay tribute to the former Co-President Hon. Netty Baldeh for the excellent way he outstandingly guided the ACP Parliamentary Assembly and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, may I through you Madam President convey my gratitude to Hon. Netty Baldeh on behalf of the ACP Group.
Madam President
Honorable Members
In the last two sessions, you have had a lot of discussions with the ACP Group and the EU on the ACP-EU relations Post 2020.
Today I come to you not only to update you but to also reach out to you as key players of the ACP-EU Partnership.
The Secretariat has just concluded intensive meetings of the ACP Council and ACP- EU Council of Ministers that took place in Brussels from 3 to 5 May 2017. The ACP Council approved a policy framework document entitled the “ACP We Want” that will guide its Members with the preparations of post 2020 negotiations.
The Committee of Ambassadors were mandated to constitute a central negotiating group and technical negotiating groups to determine core guiding principles which are to negotiate as one, secure a legally binding agreement and maintaining the acquis of the Cotonou Agreement.
The Council also mandated the Committee of Ambassadors to review the Georgetown agreement while taking into consideration relevant decisions of the ACP Summits and Council of Ministers.
The Secretariat has begun to implement Council decisions and you will be updated on the progress during your intercessional meetings in October 2017.
Madam President
Honorable Members
We meet today at a very critical time of the ACP-EU relations. A journey that begun 42 years ago that has defended the weak, protected the rights of the voiceless, supported nations in the spirit of the ACP family when disaster hit, defended democracy of the nations and stood for justice and peace for all which characterizes the spirit of the ACP Family. This has been possible through the tireless efforts of this August Assembly.
It has fallen to you on numerous occasions to defend the ACP values in various fora both at home and during these kinds of meetings. This is the kind of solidarity that continues to shape the successes we have had and guided us through challenges that have crossed our path.
History is written by the courageous men and women coming together to discharge their duty with determination and distinction like those represented here today. This is the spirit of this Parliamentary Assembly which is one of the most vibrant statutory organs that enriches the tradition of political dialogue.
Madam President
Honorable Members
As I indicated earlier today I come to you not only to engage with you but to also reach out to this ACP Parliamentary Assembly by tapping into your extensive and collective experience on the Cotonou Partnership which can birth new ideas that will make ACP Post 2020 partnership one that is fit for the global agenda and meets the needs of our citizens.
The ACP Group has begun its outreaches as well to the ACP Regions and EU Member States. These outreaches are the platform for the ACP to provide relevant information to ACP stakeholders for the preparations of the Post 2020 negotiations. The outreaches also allow the ACP Group to articulate a clear vision on its approach on Post 2020 negotiations that will provide the much-needed ownership of the process.
These outreach missions include engagement with ACP Stakeholders specifically the African Union, CARIFORUM, Pacific Islands Forum, Members of Parliament, Regional Economic Communities, Regional International Organizations.
The ACP Group will also engage with EU Member States, those who have a favorable view towards the ACP and those who might be less enthusiastic of Post 2020.
The ACP Secretariat will also endeavor to actively participate in events and opportunities where the ACP Group will play a prominent role.
Madam President
Honorable Members.
Fully aware of the magnitude of the task ahead, the Secretariat is comforted by the fact that we can count on your support as key players in the ACP We Want which is driven by courageous leadership, constructive dialogue and collective approach. I call on you to support the ACP Group in its process of preparing for Post 2020 negotiations.
As a result of the discussions conducted by the Committee of Ambassadors as well as the Council of Ministers, the following core guiding principles for negotiations were drawn out.
a) The ACP Group of States shall remain united as an intergovernmental organization that will negotiate as a unified trans-regional entity with formally structured relations with the regional and continental groupings of developing countries.
b) An ACP – EU Post Cotonou Agreement should maintain the core geographic and geo-political character of the ACP Group structured in six regions of Central, East, South and West Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific while being open to different types of association with other developing countries.
c) A legally binding ACP –EU Post Cotonou Agreement that is essential for predictability, transparency and mutual accountability
d) A dedicated development finance mechanism to be included within the negotiation framework for the Post Cotonou ACP-EU Agreement.
I count on you to leverage your constituencies in raising awareness of the Cotonou Agreement and the new political cooperation Post 2020. Through using various outreach and engagement opportunities that will affirm these core guiding principles of negotiating the Post 2020.
I also count on you as our elected representatives to initiate and keep the discussions of the future Post 2020 alive amongst your own Parliament discussions, Government institutions and all stake holders.
I implore you to engage with your counterparts in the European Parliament in driving the agenda of a balanced dialogue and partnership. Post 2020 agreement should be characterized by a dialogue of equals.
And finally Madam President, in your last meeting, we highlighted the key strategic pillars that have been identified for negotiating Post 2020 that include:
· Trade, Investment, Industrialization and Services,
· Development Cooperation, Technology, Science and Innovation and research and
· Political Dialogue and Advocacy
The lessons and challenges we have drawn from the Cotonou Agreement call for a shift in approach. As we begin to outline the specificities on each of the pillar, I look forward to having your valuable input on these strategic pillars.
Madam President
Honorable Members
Allow me to also update you on other outreaches that have taken place or will be taking place. As part of the implementation of Council decision of the 105th Session, the Secretariat undertook a mission to Guinea Conakry to meet with HE President Alpha Conde, the new Chairperson of the African union. The objective of this mission was to provide relevant information on the Post 2020 processes and outputs by highlighting the ACPs Road Map for the negotiations which includes a central negotiating group that will provide oversight and guidance. It will also include technical studies to be undertaken.
The ACP Group received full support by the President on the approach and principle that ACP will negotiate with the EU as unified entity drawn from all the three regions.
Next Month the ACP Secretariat will host the 1st Meeting of the ACP Non-State Actors. This meeting will bring together representatives of Non State Actors from all the 6 regions of the ACP Group to examine the future of ACP-EU Relations Post Cotonou under the theme the role of NSA towards the ACP We want.
The purpose of this meeting will be to provide input that will feed into the three strategic pillars of the post 2020 negotiations.
Madam President
Honorable Members
As I conclude, the ACP Group has always boasted of the collective role we are playing in tackling global challenges. We are living in times of great challenges and threats to humanity and this august assembly will remain a catalyst for global action and order.
I am convinced Madam President that we can play an even greater role with much needed support from the ACP Parliamentary Assembly.
I wish therefore to submit that in our discussions on the Future of ACP-EU Relations Post 2020 and every other activity we undertake on the debate of Post 2020 let us defend the ACP cause and never lose sight of what is our ultimate objective is: That is, to lift our people out of poverty and the attainment of sustainable development.
I am inspired by a quote from the late Nelson Mandela – What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others.”
Through this August Assembly, and in collaboration with your counterparts in the JPA, decisions are made that affect the course of the lives of our people. It is my hope and wish that with your guidance and support in the post 2020 negotiations, we shall together courageously craft an agreement that will pave way to making a difference in the lives of many millions in our respective Member States.
With these few remarks, I wish to thank you for your indulgence and kind attention and wish you successful deliberation and an enjoyable stay in Malta.
Patrick I. Gomes
ACP Secretary General