ACP Press Release: 27 May 2011— The 93rd Session of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of Ministers opened today in Brussels, Belgium with the stalled Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) negotiations with the European Union (EU), the fight against poverty and the future of the ACP Group amongst the major issues to be discussed. Opening the meeting today in Brussels, Secretary-General of the ACP Group, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas said that with the exception of the Caribbean, the negotiations over the EPAs with Europe have sadly not made the kind of progress in five other regions as “we would all love to see”. He added that linked to the lack of progress in the EPAs, is the failure to resuscitate the Doha Round. “To all intents and purposes, the international trading regime is not evolving in such a manner as would take on board the development needs of the poorest countries,” he said. ACP Ministers will be briefed on the latest state of play of the EPAs in the meeting, which is expected to finish on Sunday. Fighting Poverty Dr Chambas has urged the ACP members to commit to bolder action, especially in light of the recently concluded Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries and the upcoming High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness scheduled to be held later in the year in Busan, South Korea. He acknowledged that rising fuel and food prices pose a major challenge to some of ACP’s member countries, in addition to the abiding challenge of climate change, land-grabbing for biofuels cultivation is threatening to undermine food security and the livelihoods of millions of people. Future of the ACP Group The Ministers will also exchange views on future of the ACP Group taking into account the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement with the European Union in 2020. A Working Group has already been set-up by the ACP Council of Ministers to look at the future perspectives of the organization. “I believe we have little choice but to place our minds in the frame of thinking the unthinkable,” he said that when referring to the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020. He said it was in view of this that late last year the ACP constituted a Working Group on the Future of the ACP Group under the Chairmanship of the Distinguished Ambassador of Mauritius, H. E. Mr. Sutiawan Gunessee. The Council of Ministers will also be debating reports from ministerial consultations and committee reports on banana, sugar, cotton, development finance cooperation and fisheries issues. ENDS