PRESS RELEASE, Brussels, 23 May 2018

ACP Group Set to Negotiate as One in a new Modern Post Cotonou Agreement

 The 107th Session of the ACP Council of Ministers will be held in Lome, Togo from 29th to 30th May 2018 under the Presidency of Jamaica, at a very crucial time of the ACP-EU Relations. This meeting remains an important milestone towards opening negotiations with the countries of the Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the European Union (EU). Seventy-nine countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific will speak with one voice as they prepare to adopt a negotiating mandate between the ACP and the EU post -Cotonou Agreement.

Preceding this Session of the ACP Council of Ministers is a special session of ACP Council of Ministers convened on 27th May 2018 and dedicated to Post Cotonou Negotiations. Leading up to the launch of negotiations for the post-Cotonou period in 2018, there is a clear common interest in aligning future ACP-EU cooperation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Apart from the discussions on the future of the ACP Group and its relations with the European Union, the 107th Session of the ACP Council of Ministers will address strategic matters such as repositioning the ACP group as a more effective global player in order to respond better to the needs and aspirations of its ACP Member States. Ministers will also address ways of leveraging the principles of complementarity and subsidiarity between the ACP Group and the Regional and Continental organisations, sustaining financing of the group and lastly advancing the climate change agenda in a repositioned ACP Group.

Central to the discussions in Lome is the revision of the Georgetown agreement, amendments would include:- examination of provisions such as the Preamble of the Agreement, the criteria and categories of membership in the organisation, giving close attention to the call of ACP Heads of State and Government at their Seventh Summit in 2012 for "contacts and relations with other States and groups of States" to feature prominently.

Other key items on the agenda include commodities & trade issues, sustainable economic development, and development finance.

In the margins of the 107th Session of the ACP Council of Ministers, an inter agency consultation will be held with the Continental and Regional organisations, such as the African Union Commission (AUC), CARICOM, Pacific Island Forum (PIF) on 26th May 2018. The ACP Group recognises the important and active role played by the regional and continental organisations and calls for need to preserve and built upon such collaboration in a post –Cotonou Agreement. The focus of the meeting will be to ensure the contributions of the RECS and RIOS into the ACPs Group Negotiating Framework for a post-Cotonou Agreement.

The ACP Council of Ministers is the main decision-making body of the ACP Group under the Summit of Heads of State and Government.

Cameroonian deputy, Joseph Hycianthe Owona Kono, takes off his function as newly elected Chair of the 49th ACP Parliamentary Assembly as well as co-Chair of the ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly. His mission lasted a whole week in Brussels, Belgium, from the 19th of March 2018. 

DÉCLARATION DE L'ASSEMBLÉE PARLEMENTAIRE ACP RELATIVE À LA PRÉSERVATION DE L’UNITÉ ET DE LA SOLIDARITÉ DU GROUPE ACP

L'Assemblée parlementaire du Groupe des États d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique, réunie pour sa 49e session le 21 mars 2018 à Bruxelles (Belgique).

A. Rappelant les objectifs de l'Accord de Georgetown, notamment la consolidation et le renforcement de la solidarité et de l’unité du Groupe ACP ;

B. Considérant le préambule de l’Accord de Georgetown dans lequel les fondateurs se déclarent désireux de renforcer l’identité politique du Groupe ACP pour lui permettre d’agir et de parler d’une seule voix dans les enceintes et organisations internationales ;

C. Considérant  la Déclaration de Sipopo adoptée par le 7e Sommet des chefs d’État et de gouvernement ACP, dans laquelle ces derniers affirment sans équivoque que le Groupe ACP doit rester uni en tant qu’organisation intergouvernementale composée de 79 États membres d’Afrique sub-saharienne (48), des Caraïbes (16) et du Pacifique (15) ; 

D. Considérant également la déclaration de Port Moresby et le Communiqué de Waigani sur les perspectives d’avenir du Groupe ACP adopté par le 8e Sommet des chefs d’État et de gouvernement ACP tenu à Port Moresby (Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée) les 31 mai et 1er juin 2016 ;

E. Accueillant avec satisfaction le soutien et l’engagement de l’Union africaine, du Forum du Pacifique et du CARICOM en faveur des idéaux communs d’éradication de la pauvreté et de réalisation des objectifs de développement durable ;

F. Soucieuse de ne prendre aucune décision de nature à entraîner une fragmentation du Groupe ACP et, partant, à remettre en cause l’unité ancrée dans les valeurs du Groupe ACP ;

G. Consciente de la nécessité de définir des objectifs solides et encore plus ambitieux afin de faire face aux défis auxquels les pays ACP sont confrontés aujourd’hui, et convaincue que la capacité à relever ces défis réside dans un modèle d’unité des pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique ;  

1. Se félicite de la position historique des Chefs d’Etats et de Gouvernement en faveur du maintien d’un Groupe des Etats ACP uni en tant qu’entité indivisible, mettant à profit son importance numérique pour jouer un rôle de premier plan dans le règlement des questions relatives au développement international ; 

2. Encourage tous les États membres à réaffirmer leur attachement aux idéaux et valeurs énoncés dans le document-cadre d’orientation ACP « Vers le Groupe ACP que nous voulons », adopté par le Conseil des ministres ACP lors de sa 105e session tenue à Bruxelles les 3 et 4 mai 2017 ;

3. Appelle tous les États membres du Groupe ACP à rester unis et à entreprendre les négociations sur l’accord appelé à faire suite à l’Accord de Cotonou en tant qu’entité unique, conformément à la vision et à la mission du Groupe ACP définies lors de leurs 7e et 8e Sommets, ainsi que dans le document-cadre d’orientation ACP intitulé « Vers le Groupe ACP que nous voulons ». 

 

Bruxelles, le 21 mars 2018 

                                                              

It was on Friday the 23rd of March 2018 at ACP House that top dipolmats sitting around the table with Secretariat General, Dr. Patrick Gomes, in a ceremony chaired by Dr. Natalie Corrrie Kordas opened a fresh new page in developments on women's rights in the three continents covered by the 79-nation group. 

Brussels, 10 December 2017/ ACP:

Decision-makers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States approved key policy and administrative actions for the organisation, while also taking a stand on major issues affecting ACP countries.

The 106th session of the ACP Council of Ministers was held on the 4th to 6th of December at the ACP headquarters in Brussels, chaired by the Minister of Trade, Industry, Informal Sector and SMEs of the Republic of Senegal H.E. Mr. Alioune Sarr. The Council of Ministers took 16 Decisions, passed five Resolutions and made one Declaration, including the approval of the Secretariat’s work programme and budget for 2018.

 

Post-Cotonou Negotiations

The Council of Ministers instructed the Committee of Ambassadors to take several steps in preparation for upcoming negotiations with the EU for a renewed ACP-EU partnership agreement. These include elaborating the core guiding principles for negotiation, engaging with regional and continental organisations to consider regional specificities, conducting a comprehensive analysis of the EU’s preferred scenario for post-Cotonou ACP-EU relations, and completing outstanding studies related to the negotiations.

Ministers also agreed to convene a special session of Council dedicated to Post-Cotonou negotiations on 27th May 2018, preceding the 107th meeting of the Council of Ministers to be held in Lomé, Togo.

 

EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions

The Council of Ministers passed a resolution strongly condemning the unilateral and discriminatory practices of the EU in publishing a list of “non-cooperative tax jurisdictions”, which includes eight ACP states, despite these countries being compliant or largely compliant with the standards set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) - the international body recognised for setting norms and standards on tax cooperation at the international level.

The Council noted that the ACP countries blacklisted are mostly small, developing states with vulnerable economies, which will suffer further negative economic impact and extensive reputational damage from the EU’s unilateral actions, which go against the spirit of partnership enshrined in the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement and undermines the trust and confidence leading up to Post-2020 negotiations. The Council demanded that the EU enter into dialogue with the ACP to resolve this matter.

 

Sale of African migrants in Libya

In a strongly worded declaration, the ACP Council of Ministers unanimously condemned the inhumane auctioning of migrants in Libya, which has been documented in the media. Denouncing these actions as “despicable acts of slavery” amounting to crimes against humanity, the Council called on the cooperating development partners to take a holistic and development approach in addressing the challenges of migration, including effective means of countering human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.

The Council commended the Libyan authorities for their immediate response in investigating these heinous acts, as well as the swift engagement of the African Union. The Council of Ministers requested the Government of Libya to provide all necessary assistance to ensure the full respect of the rights of migrants and refugees.

 

Resolutions on situations in Guyana, Belize, Cuba

The Council of Ministers adopted resolutions in full support of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of ACP member states, urging just and peaceful resolutions of territorial disputes between Guyana and Venezuela, as well as Belize and Guatemala. The Council also expressed its full support and solidarity with Cuba in its fight against the economic, commercial and financial blockade and extra-territorial measures imposed by the United States.

 

Enhancing trade among ACP countries

Several decisions were taken on trade, including a commitment to enhance intra-ACP trade and economic relations by setting up an ACP-wide trade information portal for ACP individuals and businesses in search of information on manufactured products, commodities, services, investment opportunities and best practices. Ministers also endorsed an incremental approach to intra-ACP trade, targeting areas that could being immediate benefits such as dealing with non-tariff measures and trade facilitation.

To tackle non-tariff measures set by the EU that impede, the Council of Ministers mandated the establishment of a new programme to support ACP states to cope with the myriad of SPS (Sanitary & Phyto-Sanitary), TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) and other challenges related to exporting to the EU market.

The Council of Ministers also passed a resolution welcoming progress towards the implementation of the ACP’s “New Approach” to commodities, which focuses on transforming ACP commodities by enabling integration into regional and global value chains. The Council urged the expeditious completion of a new programme on value chains that will provide support to sectors such as cotton, sugar, banana, cocoa, kava, fisheries and rum.

 

Post-2020 ACP-EU trade

Looking towards trade with the European Union after the current ACP-EU Partnership Agreement expires in 2020, the Council of Ministers welcomed the EU’s assurance that trade and development cooperation will continue to play a key role in future relations, including Aid for Trade. The Council acknowledged that the cornerstone of future ACP-EU trade relations will likely be the reciprocal but asymmetric Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), for export growth and diversification. However, ministers underscored the need for the future partnership framework to allow discourse on cross-cutting issues under EPAs as well as bilateral and multilateral trade.

 

Budget 2018

The Council of Ministers approved the budget of the ACP Secretariat, to the tune of €15,798,678 for the 2018 financial year. A revised scale of contributions for ACP Member States was also approved, with effect from 1 January 2019.

 

Next Council session

The 107th session of the ACP Council of Ministers will be held in Lomé, Togo, to be followed immediately by the 42nd session of the Joint ACP-EU Council of Ministers (28 May – 1 June 2018).

Within the framework of the 105th Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group that held on its first day of discussions in Brussels, Belgium on Tuesday the 2nd of May 2017, Cameroon's Minister of Economy, Louis Paul Motaze chaired the talks. He was assisted by the Ambassador of Cameroon, Daniel Evina Abe’e in his capacity as

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