Ladies and gentlemen of the press,
Let me welcome you and thank you all for being here.
For more than four decades, the ACP-EU partnership has been steadily deepening and broadening. The successive Lomé Conventions and the Cotonou Partnership Agreement have been important instruments in supporting ACP States' efforts to address various challenges in the pursuit and maintenance of people-centred development. Under the negotiations for a post-Cotonou partnership agreement, taking place in a fast-moving 21st century of technological change, the ACP States will strive for a modern, adaptable and responsive agreement that will contribute to accelerating the transformation of their economies.
The expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020 offers both sides an exceptional opportunity to modernise their relations so that they are in line with current and new realities. The new partnership should enable the ACP Group and the EU to refine their approaches to national and regional issues together and define their capacity to work together towards a stable and progressive international environment that leaves no one on the side.
The ACP Group is working to ensure that the objective of the new agreement is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development in all ACP countries through a strengthened and deepened economic and political partnership, as well as to position the Group as a more effective actor on the international stage. This will require alignment with the development agenda for 2030 and the SDGs, which will provide the overall framework, taking due account of United Nations conferences and summits, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development, continental and regional programmes, such as the African Union's Agenda 2063, and the deepening and broadening of regional integration in the Caribbean and the Pacific.
As you may be aware, the official opening of the negotiations took place in New York on 28 September 2018 on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly. It was a symbolic event. We have demonstrated our determination to work together and cooperate in finding solutions to the global problems affecting our countries, not only the ACP States but also those of the European Union. Such cooperation is more than necessary at a time when we are making concerted efforts to combat the growing negative attitude towards multilateralism.
The ACP Group has established a negotiating structure chaired by Ambassadors, both for the central negotiating group and the technical negotiating teams. This structure is based on the principle of inclusiveness, as all ACP regions participate in this member-driven process. The central negotiating group is chaired by Togo, with Guyana and Papua New Guinea as Vice-Presidents. The technical negotiating teams responsible for discussions on the strategic pillars of the ACP Mandate are chaired by Trinidad and Tobago, Samoa and Zimbabwe.
It is a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to address the first session of the technical negotiations. The two sides will first agree on the practical modalities, including the practical modalities for the negotiations.
They will compare the European Union Negotiating Directives and the ACP Group Negotiating Mandate to establish how the structure and strategic priorities of the future agreement will be aligned.
We hope that the new partnership will help to stimulate the development of our countries. We plan to conclude an agreement that considers the realities of the modern world.
Thank you for your kind attention. I am now ready to answer a few questions.