Brussels, 24 March 2015/ ACP: Politicians from more than 60 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries gathered in Brussels last week to discuss key political issues in their respective regions, and prepare for the upcoming joint assembly with European Parliamentarians scheduled for mid-2015.

The plenary session of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly on 18 March was also the first time for members to hear from the new ACP Secretary General Dr. Patrick Gomes, since he took office on 1 March. (View photos from this event)

During his address, the Secretary General emphasised that his “tenure of office will essentially be a transitional and repositioning preparatory period for the future of the ACP Group beyond 2020.”

However, he added that although 2020 marked the expiry of the ACP’s current partnership framework with the EU, “the Constitutive Act of the ACP Group – Georgetown Agreement, has its own life outside of ACP-EU relations”.

Dr. Gomes called for the ACP Group to engage more actively with each other as member states, as well as other developing countries and regions in the Global South. He outlined five strategic policy areas for the 79-member organisation to pursue, including: promoting trade, industry and regional integration; building sustainable, resilient and creative economies; supporting global justice and human security; advancing the rules of law and good governance; and financing for development.

“In order to achieve these ambitions, our institutional architecture will have to be radically reformed and transformed,” said the Secretary General.

He stressed the need to reorient the ACP Group and Secretariat as a knowledge management institution focussing on development programmes, proposing that the ACP Group become an "inter-regional organisations coordinating hub" as well as a facilitator for international development cooperation. To ensure financial sustainability, the ACP is pursuing the idea of an ACP Trade Finance and Investment Facility and a long-term Development Fund.

“At the core of our joint action will be South South and Triangular cooperation,” Dr Gomes added.

The presentation was met with widespread support from the meeting, with over two dozen MP’s from across the ACP regions taking the floor to offer words of congratulations and encouragement.

The Vice-Speaker of the National Assembly of Uganda Hon. Jacob Oulanya told the Secretary General: "You are part of the thinking that inspired many of us a few years back when you made a statement on behalf of the Ambassador's Working Group in which you called us to start thinking about the changes we should make about our future as ACP…. If we don't find new possibilities, new opportunities, we cannot exist in this partnership.

"… For the support, we will give it to you. For the initiative we will wait for you to guide us on how we should move.”

The Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Hon. Fitz Jackson assured the Secretary General of the support of the parliamentarians in his task to lead the ACP Group of States into a more relevant and effective body in international development.

The 37th session of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly was followed by the Bureau meeting of the ACP-EU joint body at the European Parliament to prepare for the next full joint assembly.

Read the Secretary General's full statement

(Top photo: ACP Secretary General Dr. Patrick Gomes and Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Hon. Fitz Jackson of Jamaica; (below) Meeting participants)

– ACP Press