The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, has urged the member countries of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) grouping to stand together as they engage the European Union in the Post-Cotonou negotiations.
“We need inclusive engagement with the European Union (EU) in whichever form you want to call it, but we need to be there and should do it courageously,” said Oulanyah.
The Deputy Speaker made the call while speaking at the 51st Session of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly taking place in Brussels, Belgium. The ACP brings together 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Oulanyah on his part noted that the ACP does not support regionalism that could be tantamount to divide and rule saying, “The ACP should negotiate as one unit because they have always been one”.
He was responding to remarks by the ACP Secretary General H.E. Dr. Patrick Gomes who noted a glaring difference in the negotiation mandates of both parties, which gave the EU an upper hand.
“Where the ACP is calling for a stronger Parliamentary dimension, the EU is advocating for a regional approach that could mean it enjoys the leverage to enter separate agreements with the different blocs of the ACP group,” noted Dr. Gomes.
The ACP has commenced negotiations with the EU on a new partnership agreement that comes on the heels of the current partnership governed by the Cotonou Agreement that will expire in 2020.
According to the ACP chief negotiator and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in Togo, Prof. Robert Dussey, the post-Cotonou agreement should help in achieving sustainable development in the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
“The right of ACP peoples to development, the SDGs, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 must be at the heart of the future ACP-EU partnership agreement,” adds Prof. Dussey.
Ahead of the negotiations, the Secretariat has commissioned a study of the Impact Assessment of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly to be carried out by Ambassador Kembi Gitura of Kenya – former chairperson of the ACP-Committee on Economic Development, Finance and Trade.
The ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000, was concluded for a 20-year period from 2000 to 2020.
The fundamental principles of the Cotonou Agreement include equality of partners, global participation, dialogue and regionalisation.