Mr. Mike Eman, Chairman of OCTA and Premier of Aruba,
Excellency, Mr. Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development,
Excellencies, Members of the European Parliament,
Chairman of the Conference of the President of the Outermost Regions,
Distinguished participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is with great pleasure and honour that, upon your kind and appreciated invitation, I am here today on behalf of the 79 member states of the ACP Group, to share with you some thoughts at this important 15th OCT-EU Forum gathered here in this beautiful island of Aruba.

This Forum is taking place at a very crucial moment when the world, and particularly the global south is facing challenges such as insecurity, climate change, energy shortages, among others. Therefore, it is significant that this 15th OCTA-EU Forum will focus on some of these vital issues for our common development and that of our citizens, the ultimate beneficiaries of our joint endeavour.

With 79 Member States, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group comprises a tri-continental, inter-governmental organization that committed itself to fighting against poverty in a joint effort among our members, but also with other development partners, principally the European Union, in our unique, and valued partnership of more than four decades.

OCTs under the 11th EDF

From the first Lome Convention in 1975, the special relationship of the EU with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of developing countries up to the current Cotonou Partnership Agreement has been widely admired and recognised globally for significant lessons on to trade and economic cooperation, political engagements on human rights and good governance. The 25 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) with special links to EU Member States are embedded in the provisions of Part IV of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and the detailed rules and procedures laid down in the Overseas Association.

The European Development Fund (EDF) has served in an effective and transparent manner to deliver by joint management substantial assistance for development cooperation with both ACP states and the OCTs. It is admirable that the financial envelope of 364.5 million Euros covering the period 2014-2020 is meant to contribute significantly to addressing major challenges facing the OCT’s in their quest for sustainable development for all, but also to meet the underlying objective of the OCTA Strategy 2015-2020: the creation of inclusive, participative, smart and sustainable societies.

Possible areas of cooperation under the 11th EDF

Given the geographical and economic links between the many ACP countries, particularly the SIDS, and the OCTs, we face the same opportunities as well as challenges notably in the areas of environment and climate change, maritime security, high transport costs, amongst others.

While both the ACP and OCTs have over the years benefitted from the EDF and have overtime accumulated wealth of expertise in the areas of programming and the implementation of programmes, this unique and common feature has however not been extensively utilised nor, obviously, yielded a common platform from which these important lessons and experiences could be exchanged for the benefit of our peoples. A possible vehicle through which the ACP and the OCTs could learn from each other, and share with other developing countries, is South-South and Triangular Cooperation.

Increasing awareness and recognition of the role of the ACP Secretariat as a facilitator and hub for South-South & Triangular Cooperation (SS&TrC) have been shown, for example, by the ACP’s participation in and organization of joint events related to SS &TrC, and dissemination of information on SSC related activities, including the case studies in which the ACP has played a key role.

For instance, priority programmes in areas of climate change, human development, energy and other sectors being implemented at both national and regional levels by the ACP SIDS and the OCTs, certainly provide an important avenue for collaboration. Given the unique features of SIDS, the ACP Group has established a SIDS Forum, as a permanent platform with a mandate to coordinate at both strategic and operational levels, all interventions that are geared to addressing the challenges faced by the 37 ACP SIDS in line with the SAMOA Pathway – “Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action”.

Among the key specific areas of intervention of the platform are the following:
(i) Sensitizing relevant stakeholders and advocacy for SIDs;
(ii) Building partnerships for the implementation of the SIDS Agenda;
(iii) Facilitating access to financial resources for ACP SIDs; and
(iv) Supporting the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway at the regional and national levels.

Another important avenue for the ACP-OCTs collaboration at regional level is provided in Annex IV Chapter 4 article 6 paragraph 4 of the Cotonou Agreement as stipulated below:

The participation of non-ACP developing countries to regional programmes shall be envisaged only to the extent that:

a.The centre of gravity of the projects and programmes funded under the multi-annual financial framework of cooperation remains in an ACP country;
b.equivalent provisions exist in the framework of the Community’s financial instruments; and
c. the principle of proportionality is respected.”

The challenge is how in the future this avenue can be beneficial to ACP-EU-OCT relations.

Future Cooperation Post Cotonou

The world is undergoing dramatic changes which demand appropriate responses to deal with current and future challenges. In this context the ACP-EU relations remain fully committed to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Extensive consultations and studies are also being harnessed towards defining the policy framework document for the post-2020 ACP that will give strategic leadership in the fight against poverty, as a contribution for sustainable development to be enjoyed by people of all countries across the planet.

As the Cotonou Partnership Agreement comes to an end in February 2020, a revised 1975 Georgetown Agreement, enshrining a vision of an ACP we want, will constitute a ground for the future of the group and its partners for the attainment of common goals.

Furthermore, the ACP Heads of States and Governments in their Sipopo and Port Moresby Declarations, respectively, in the 7th and 8th Summits provide a determination for an unequivocal commitment to the objectives and principles of peace and security of all nations and solidarity among the countries of the gobal south and to remain a unified and trans-regional entity.

The ACP Council of Ministers, held in Brussels from 29th to 30th November 2016, identified three strategic pillars that could form the basis of a comprehensive all ACP umbrella in post-2020 to deepen and radically change the current Cotonou partnership by addressing:

1. Trade, investment, industrialisation and services;
2. Development cooperation, technology, science and innovation/research;
3. Political dialogue and advocacy including peace and security.

In preparing the negotiations for the Post-Cotonou agreement, the ACP Group continues to engage its national, regional and continental stakeholders to identify and define the building blocks for a legally binding agreement that consolidates the acquis of the current Agreement.


These brief suggestions, I hope, offer some scope on how the ACP with OCTs would jointly organise to explore ways and means for a relevant and dynamic post-Cotonou Agreement.

In conclusion, allow me to congratulate the organizers of this Forum, the OCTA and the EU, and thank you Mr. Premier, for the generous hospitality and wish you fruitful discussions for a successful meeting.

Thank you for your kind attention.