The 108th Session of the Council of Ministers of the African,Carribean and Pacific Group(ACP) has ended in Brussels,Belgium with member countries reaffirming that the duration of the Post Cotonou Agreement with the European Union (EU) should be 20 years. The two parties had previously agreed to adopt a Post 2030 context where and if need be.
Meeting from December 12 to 14, 2018, the ACP Group further reaffirmed that this new Agreement shall be a single,legally binding,long term Partnership Agreement that will embody a foundation and three Regional Protocols which together will be legally binding.Besides, emphasis was laid on the fact that the Negotiations with the EU should ensure the integrity, unity, solidarity, the fraternity of the ACP Group and that the future Agreement should facilitate intra- ACP Cooperation in a coherent and consistent manner.
Cameroon's Delegation to this 108th Session of the Council of Ministers of the ACP Group was Headed by Alamine Ousmane Mey, Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development (MINEPAT). Other members of this Delegation included Basilekin lll Achille, Secretary General in the Ministry of External Relations and Daniel Evina Abe'e, Cameroon's Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union. The Session was chaired by Issa Doubragne, Minister of Economy and Development, Chad.
In keeeping with the Georgetown Agreement, the Secretary General of the ACP Group,Dr. Patri ck I. Gomes, presented the report of activities which laid emphasis on the Strategic Management Plan for period 2017 - 2020. The Strategic Objective of this Plan as presented included:- enhancing Intra-ACP Cooperation, Enhancing ACP-EU Relations, Advancing South- South Triangular Cooperation, Enhancing the Financial sustainability of the ACP Group, Reforming the ACP Secretariat and Enhancing the visibilty of the ACP Group.
On Enhancing Relations with the EU, Dr. Patrick I. Gomes disclosed in his report that the pre-eminent matter being addressed at moment by the Secretariat was centred on the process of Negotiating a New Partnership Agreement with the former. He said active Negotiations for a Successor Agreement for Post Cotonou Partnership were held in the offices of the Delegation of the EU to the United Nations in New York on 28/09/2018. In attendance were Hon. Prof. Robert Dussey, Togo's Minister of Foriegn Affairs, Cooperation and African Integretion, who is ACP Group's Chief Negotiator for the Post Cotonou Successor Agreement as well as his EU counterpart, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica.
Talking about finances, the ACP Group Secretary General said that late payment and non payment of dues by member countries had continued to pose a serious problem for effective financial management.He further disclosed that as at 31/10/2018 only 53.7% of dues have been collected, pointing out that only 35 member countries have paid their contributions,while 33 others have not made a single contribution.Worse still, the outstanding unpaid arrears of contributions by some 29 ACP member countries, as revealed by Dr.Patrick I. Gomes today stands at a colossal 2,416,967.90 Euros, which is equal to 1,585,530,942 francs CFA.
On the Enhancement of the ACP Group's visibilty, the Secretary General announced that an offer was being considered in collaboration with Brussels Press Club to sponsor annual Journalism Award where Journalists of the ACP and EU will receive a prize for publishing an article on any ACP programme at National, Regional or Global levels.
Other highlights of this 108th Session of the Council of Ministers included:- Report of the ACP Ministerial Central Negotiating Group, Report of the Council of Ambassadors, Report of the Editing Committee of the Council of Ministers, Report of the review of the Georgetown Agreement, Presentation of an external audit report. The draft budget of the ACP Secretariat was also examined and adopted at 16,035,346 Euros (10,519,186,976 frs.CFA).
Georgetown Agreement, it should be recalled is the ACP Group's Fundamental Charter which was signed in 1975 at the time of the First Lomé Convention. It lays down the rules for cooperation between the countries' three continents - the main link being shared Aid from the European Union.