Brussels, 7 December 2015/ ACP: More than a hundred legislators from across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) convene this week in Brussels alongside Members of the European Parliament to discuss and pass political resolutions on major issues concerning the ACP regions.

Over the next three days, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) will debate a number of topics related to peace and security, trade and development, health and social issues, as well as global challenges such as climate change. Two urgent motions for resolutions will be debated, specifically on migration, human rights and humanitarian refugees, as well as the post-election situation in Burundi.

Setting the tone at the opening ceremony today, Co-President of the Joint Assembly Hon. Louis Michel (Belgium) said that: “‘Fortress Europe’ is not a solution and is unworthy of the humanist values that Europe defends”, adding that it must “shoulder its duty of humanity towards refugees fleeing war, violence or dictatorship”.

Migration has been a critical challenge for the European nations, with a rising influx of refugees from the Middle East and African countries. Hon. Michel pointed out that neighbouring countries in conflict zones, such as Jordan and Turkey are taking in the vast majority of refugees. He emphasised the need to tackle the root causes of migration at the countries of origin, including poverty and armed conflicts.

“We shall of course have to organise the reception of economic and climate migrants, as well as circular migration,” he continued.

In his address, JPA Co-President Hon. Fitz Jackson (Jamaica) highlighted the dangers of climate change to ACP countries, including in particular, the threats posed to Small Island Developing States, not only in terms of their sustainable development but the very survival of some. Renewable energy was cited as a way to allow for economic development without high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

“However, investments in renewable energy will require a lot of financial support and technological transfer if developing countries are not to make the same mistakes in their pursuit of development and poverty reduction,” he stated.

The Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) and the electrification of Africa will be subjects of separate debate sessions on the parliamentarians' programme, in addition to a keynote debate on universal healthcare coverage in ACP countries.

Hon. Jackson also underlined the importance of EU cooperation with ACP countries, and the need for the ACP Group to remain as a cohesive force, in preparation for the renegotiation of the partnership agreement between the two groups of states, which concludes in 2020.

“As we approach the expiry of the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement, we need to see how we can enhance and strengthen, rather than diminish, the partnership… From an ACP perspective, I believe preserving the assemblage of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific must be non-negotiable,” he insisted.

The Assembly will have the chance to question the European Commission, represented by Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Mr. Neven Mimica, on the follow up of previous resolutions and declarations passed by the JPA. Debates will also be held with the ACP and EU Councils, represented by Hon. Mamphono Khaketla, Minister of Finance of Lesotho, and Hon. Romain Schneider, Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs of Luxembourg.

The 30th session of the JPA will culminate on a vote on resolutions on Wednesday 9 December based on reports by the three Standing Committees, as follows:

Committee on Economic Development, Finance and Trade: Forty years of partnership – Evaluation of the impact on trade and development in the ACP countries and prospects for enduring relations between the ACP countries and the European Union (Co-rapporteurs: Jacob Oulanyah (Uganda) and David Martin);

Committee on Political Affairs: Evaluation of the African Peace Facility after ten years – Effectiveness and prospects for the future (Co-rapporteurs: Kombo Gberi (Cameroon) and Mariya Gabriel); and

Committee on Social Affairs and Environment: How to improve economic and social conditions in developing countries, including the contribution of family businesses, in order to prevent health disasters (Co-rapporteurs: Ibrahim R. Bundu (Sierra Leone) and Arne Gericke).

The Assembly also aims for resolutions on two urgent motions:

– The post-election situation in Burundi

– Migration, human rights and humanitarian refugees

The Joint Parliamentary Assembly is one of the key joint institutions of the ACP-EU partnership framework. It acts a consultative body, meeting twice a year to facilitate high level political discussions between parliamentarians from across 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific States and an equal number of Members of the European Parliament.

For more information:

(Photo: Opening session of the 30th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary meeting/ Photo: European Parliament)

– ACP Press