Brussels, 11 July 2012/ ACP: Pacific Politicians will gather in Samoa to dialogue with Members of the European Parliament at the 8th Regional Meeting of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, scheduled for 18 – 20 July.

Fifteen Members of Parliament from the Pacific bloc of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and 15 counterparts from the European Union will discuss a range of issues, including regional integration and cooperation and the state of Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU, as well as exchange views on climate change, the Millennium Development Goals and democracy and human rights.

The sessions will be chaired by the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) Hon. Musikari Kombo of Kenya and Hon. Louis Michel of Belgium. ACP Secretary General Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas will also attend.

Samoan MP and Chair of the ACP Parliamentary Committee on Political Affairs Mr Lenata’i Victor Faafoi Tamapua said the meeting will be a key platform for Pacific representatives to address EU lawmakers directly and openly on issues concerning the region.

“The Joint Parliamentary Assembly has been a very important vehicle through which we have pushed Pacific concerns and agendas at the political level with the EU. For instance in the previous ACP-EU Assembly I attended in Denmark [May 27-30], the European ban on kava and Fijian political situation were discussed. As a result of consistent dialogue in such forums, a high level ACP-EU Parliamentary fact-finding mission will be visiting Fiji in the coming weeks to look into the progress made on the roadmap to the restoration of a democratic government,” said Mr Tamapua.

The fact-finding mission to Fiji will take place after the regional JPA meeting, led by the two Co-Presidents and accompanied by Mr. Glen Benedict Noel from Grenada, Mr. Lenata’i Victor Faafoi Tamapua from Samoa, Mr Frank Engel of Luxembourg (EPP), and Mrs Michele Rivasi of France (Greens).

Mr Tamapua added that the regional JPA meetings allow the Pacific ACP region to make its concerns more visible on the global front, and encourage international cooperation and solidarity with other developing countries through the 79-member ACP Group.

A communiqué produced at the end of the 8th Regional Meeting of the JPA will be taken to the 24th session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly to be held in Suriname this November. The main assembly is held twice a year, bringing together MPs from all 79 members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group and an equal number of peers from the European Union to engage in political dialogue about various issues of concern, within the framework of the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement.

(Pictured: Pacific representatives at the ACP Parliamentary Assembly with ACP Secretary General Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas (centre),in Horsens, Denmark May 2012. Samoan MP Tamapua is second from left)