The Rt.Hon. Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah says that the European Union Parliamentarians disrespect their African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) counterparts in negotiations aimed at fostering the partnership.
Oulanyah said that in the Post 2020 negotiations between the ACP and EU, there is need for mutual respect, which has been lacking.
“We have not been talking as equals and there has been no respect on the other side of the partnership. If we are talking about the ACP we want, then that discussion must be more enriched than the way we are handling it at the moment,” he said.
The Deputy Speaker made these remarks while reacting to a statement by the Secretary General of the ACP Group HE Dr. Patrick Gomes at the opening of the 46th Session of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly on Friday, 16th June 2016 in Malta.
Dr. Gomes had briefed the Assembly that the ACP Group through their eminent ambassadors were due to start negotiations with their European counterparts on the Post Cotonou negotiations.
Oulanyah said that the Cotonou Agreement was framed with the economic interests of the European countries in mind, without taking into consideration those of the ACP states.
“We need to start thinking because we know the context in which these agreements were framed. Lome -Cotonou were framed to take over from initial colonization of these countries which are now ACP, because legally they could no longer control these countries,” he said.
The Deputy Speaker added that, “the European states needed to negotiate the framework where they will still have access to the natural resources of the ACP states without force”.
He described the experience they as ACP representatives had had with their European counterparts in the negotiations on several issues as annoying.
“Are we ready for these negotiations? There are incidences were we were disrespected openly and where our opinions are ignored and decisions are taken irrespective of what our views are,” he stated.
Oulanyah called on the ACP Group to restructure the whole arrangement and seek partnerships with other countries.
“With these new comers in the world economy, let us look elsewhere and not hinge on this old and almost useless European relationship that we have. The Chinese are there and the Indians are coming up; why are we sticking up with the Europeans when we are being disrespected?” the Deputy Speaker mused.
He also called for an assessment of both the 40-years partnership and what has been achieved and also of the impact of the ACP in the world.
“Do we have any influence elsewhere rather than in Brussels and the countries we rotate in? Have we changed anything in the world? These are the discussions we need to start having so that we see if at all this framework is a necessary thing to continue holding,” he said.
Hon. Fitz Jackson from Jamaica added that there is need to make the ACP more effective and move away from an Assembly that only takes positions on issues.
“How can we move from just taking positions and have an impact on our colleagues from the EU? We need to pursue issues about which we have strong feelings right to the end and this will only be possible if we have consensus, he said.
The current ACP-EC Partnership Agreement was signed in 2000 in Cotonou, Benin and was revised in 2005 and 2010. It was concluded for a 20-year period and expires in 2020.
There has been debate on status of the agreement, and discussions on the major features of the partnership after 2020 between the EU and the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), with the aim to take stock of the current Partnership Agreement and to explore if it remains a valid framework for future cooperation.
Hon. Jack Wamanga Wamai (Mbale Municipality) and Hon. Juliet Ssubi Kinyamatama (Rakai District) are attending the Meeting. Uganda’s Deputy Head of Mission to Rome, Italy, Ambassador Mumtaz Kassam is also in attendance.