ACP-EU Council of Ministers Vanuatu Pacific Ballroom11 June 2012, Port Vila: More than 300 officials from the European Union and the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States will convene this week in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu for one of the most important meetings of the year between the two groups.

The 37th session of the ACP-EU Council of Ministers – the highest decision-making body of the ACP-EU partnership – will be held on the 14th and 15th of June, preceded by the 95th session of the ACP Council of Ministers held on the 11th to 13th at the Warwick Le Lagon Resort in Port Vila.

“It is well-known that one of the cornerstones of the ACP-EU Partnership is open and consistent dialogue between our developing countries in the South and our more affluent partners in the North. This constitutes a unique framework where relations should be driven by cooperation and mutual benefit rather than conflict or competition,” said ACP Secretary General Dr Mohamed IbnChambas.“There are a number of very key items we will be discussing over the week relating to trade cooperation, development financing, as well as political and sustainable development issues.”

Included on the agenda are ACP declarations on specific products such as cotton, the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), preparations for the United Nations Rio+20 conference in Brazil, and a performance review of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) cycle, which financesdevelopment programmes in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries from 2008 to 2013.The Joint Council will also take a decision on the accession of South Sudan to the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, which would take ACP Group membership up to 80 countries.

In the lead up to the joint sessions, the ACP Council of Ministers will hold its own strategic discussions on the key issues and review the Group’s progress towards objectives.

“The timing of these meetings falls just before the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio +20, and I am pleased to report earnest preparations towards an ACP group position. The ACP and the EU will also be considering a joint declaration for Rio, confirming our renewed commitment for advancing the sustainable development agenda,” added Dr Chambas.

The ACP-EU Joint Council of Ministers is composed of a representative from every ACP and EU country and a representative from the European Commission, who meet once per year to engage in political dialogue and adopt policy directives related to the implementation of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement. The Council is presided over by two co-presidents – Danish Minister for Development and Cooperation Hon. Christian Friis Bach and the St Lucia Minister for External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation Hon. Alva Baptiste.

(Pictured: A conference room at the Le Lagon Resort in Vanuatu, where the committee meetings take place/

– ACP Press