Pacific ACP leaders intensify preparations for ACP-EU negotiations
Brussels, 5 September 2017/ ACP: Heads of Pacific ACP governments are moving forward with groundwork on negotiations for a renewed trading, development and political partnership with the European Union, as part of the larger African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States.
With the current ACP-EU agreement expiring in 2020, negotiations for a follow-up partnership are set to launch in less than a year, no later than August 2018. Fourteen Pacific Island members of the ACP Group (PACP States) met in Apia, Samoa, before the 48th Pacific Leaders Forum, to consolidate their positions on a number of issues. ( Read the full text of the Summary Decisions of the meeting)
“I call on the PACP States for their active participation in these important discussions with the EU, to ensure that, as the ‘Blue Pacific’ we are able to voice our priorities and challenges in areas such as climate change, renewable energy and sustainable development, including the management and conservation of our Ocean and its resources,” said the Chairman of the Pacific ACP meeting, the Prime Minister of Samoa Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.
At the gathering, also attended by the ACP Secretary General Dr. Patrick Gomes, PACP leaders endorsed the ACP policy framework as outlined in the document “Towards the ACP We Want”.
The document details the visions and goals for the ACP Group in the 21st century, three strategic pillars for the post-2020 era (Trade, Investment, Industrialisation and Services; Development Cooperation, Technology, Science and Innovation; and Political Dialogue and Advocacy), as well as outlooks for the ACP’s future relationship with the EU.
Leaders also endorsed a Resolution on the future of the ACP Group post-2020.
“As the expiry of the (ACP-EU) Cotonou Agreement in 2020 approaches, we will need to be proactive in ensuring that the development support under this arrangement is channelled effectively to our region and aligns with our regional priorities. We must also ensure that our priorities are reflected in any future partnership agreement with the European Union,” said the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Dame Meg Taylor at the event.
Papua New Guinea and Samoa were chosen as ministerial representatives to the ACP’s Central Negotiating Group.
Meanwhile, an “aide memoire” on the basic principles to guide the 79-member bloc during ACP-EU talks was circulated by the ACP Secretary General Gomes, citing key principles such as negotiating as one entity, forming structured relations with the regional and continental groupings, focusing on three thematic pillars, and having a legally-binding agreement, amongst others.
No more cuts
Pacific ACP leaders urged the EU not to make any cuts or further rebalancing of EU development assistance allocated for the Pacific region. The Pacific Regional Indicative Programme (PRIP) is a regional package channelled through the European Development Fund, now in its 11th cycle (EDF11) covering the period 2014-2020.
“It is extremely disappointing that the region has still not been able to drawdown on the regional envelope of EDF11 funds to address the agreed priority areas identified by the region,” PIFS Secretary General Dame Taylor told members.
“Further, the region has witnessed in recent months, a redistribution of funds within the regional indicative programme. It has also been brought to my attention that the European Union is considering a reduction in the allocated funds for the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme, particularly in the focal area on Regional Economic Integration.”
Leaders highlighted the importance of regional economic integration (REI), urging the EU that the allocation of €37 million should not be reduced any further.
At the same time, regional organisations as well as the ACP Secretariat were urged to raise more awareness on how to benefit from the “Intra-ACP” envelope of the EDF11, worth more than €3 billion, through multi-country initiatives. This includes the ACP Private Sector Development Strategy and the Investment Facility.
(Photo: Prime Minister of Samoa and Chair of the Pacific ACP leaders meeting/ PIFS)
– Press ACP