Brussels, 21 November 2014/ ACP: The Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group will devote its landmark 100th session to tackling major issues for the organisation, including its future perspectives as an international coalition.

The meeting, scheduled for 9 – 12 December in Brussels, is set to bring together high level officials of the 79 member countries to take decisions on key trade matters, development finance, and institutional issues, including the Secretariat’s annual budget.

“This event is important as it will focus on very fundamental aspects of how the ACP Group delivers results to its peoples. This includes the leadership and functioning of the organisation, and implementation of reforms that aim to make it more effective in reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development in member states,” said ACP Secretary General H.E Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni.

New Secretary General

The Council of Ministers will appoint a new Secretary General to head the ACP Secretariat from 2015 to 2020, a critical period marking the final leg of the current ACP partnership agreement with the EU. Three candidates have been nominated from the Caribbean region: Ms Patricia R. Francis (Jamaica), Dr. Hamid Ghany (Trinidad & Tobago); and Ambassador Dr. Patrick I. Gome (Guyana).

Future of the ACP Group

A decision is also expected on the final report of the Ambassadorial Working Group on Future Perspectives, which has, since 2011, led an extensive review of ACP-EU relations in view of the 2015 revision of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (now deferred) and its conclusion in 2020. The Working Group was charged with crafting a strategy for the ACP Group to be more effective and visible in the global arena.

In addition, the ACP Eminent Persons Group – an external 12-member panel of prominent personalities, led by former President of Nigeria Chief Olusegun Obasanjo – will submit an interim report and a vision document to the Council, with main outlooks and recommendations on the future orientations of the ACP Group. Based on wide consultations with stakeholders in all six ACP regions as well as European partners, the final report is to be given to ACP Heads of State and Government in 2015.

Development Finance and New EU Commission

The upcoming session of the Council of Ministers will be the first occasion for members to meet with members of the new European Commission, which recently took office on 1 November 2014, including the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ms. Federica Mogherini and Development Commissioner Mr. Neven Mimica.

Mr. Mimica is scheduled to sign National Indicative Programmes with at least seven ACP countries, financed through the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).

Trade matters

The Council of Ministers will consider the state of play of the ACP-EU Economic Partnership Agreements across the various negotiating blocs. Ministerial consultations on commodities (bananas, sugar and cotton) will also take place.

Ebola crisis

The Council of Ministers will hold a special session to exchange views on the humanitarian crisis caused by the outbreak of the ebola virus in several countries in the West Africa region. Discussions will focus on strengthening local health systems, in a follow up to the major symposium organised by the ACP Secretariat in Brussels on 17 October 2014. Following the symposium, the ACP Ambassadors based in Brussels issued a declaration calling for an international conference on ebola, to be coordinated by the ACP Group, the Afircan Union, and the EU.

The 100th session of the ACP Council of Ministers will be chaired by Guinea.

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