The European Union and the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), formerly named the ACP Group of States, resumed today talks by teleconferencing at the highest political level, a first since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with the objective to advance talks towards the finishing line on the new ‘Post Cotonou’ agreement. The meeting has provided an important opportunity for the chief negotiators, Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, and for the OACPS Professor Robert Dussey to build on the work, which has continued at technical level over the past. (Image above from archive 2019).
Welcoming this step forward in the negotiation talks, Commissioner for International Partnerships and chief EU negotiator, Jutta Urpilainen, said today: “The ongoing negotiations with OACPS countries remain a priority. Despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the negotiations are progressing in the same cordial spirit that has guided our talks until now. I am pleased to see that we are getting closer and closer to the finishing line.”
Professor Robert Dussey, Togo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Integration and Togolese Abroad, the OACPS’ Chief Negotiator and Chair of the Ministerial Central Negotiating Group, said: “The negotiations for renewed and revamped relations with our European partners have moved forward satisfactorily, despite COVID-19, thanks to modern technology. I am happy to say that the Members of the OACPS remain committed and are on course to conclude a partnership agreement that will also take into account the unprecedented challenges that now confront us at national, regional and global levels due to COVID-19.”
In the coming weeks the EU and OACPS negotiating teams will step up their efforts with the aim of reaching an agreement as soon as possible. Negotiations will continue virtually.
Polling stations have been opened at 6 AM local time (03:00 GMT) and closed at 5PM (14:00 GMT). Despite long queues, no anomalies were detected in the polls, according to the head of the European Union’s observer mission, Cristian Dan Preda.
According to the country’s electoral commission, the CENI, turnout was around 40 percent.
Incumbent President Hery Rajaonarimampianina has many competitors, including four former presidents seeking for a mandate, however his two main challengers are both former heads of state: Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina.
All three major competitors have crisscrossed the island in a chase for votes and each has pledged to accelerate recovery for an economy the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts will grow at more than five percent this year, its highest rate in a decade.
Civil society groups accuse three wealthy front runners of profiting from politics, all candidates vehemently deny.
EU delegation led by Member of European Parliament Cristian Dan Preda (Romania, EPP) will address press on Friday, 9 November to conclude the work of the EU monitoring mission.
The European Union is one of the largest donors of the official development assistance in Madagascar, with the European Development Fund (EDF) being the main financial instrument. For the period 2014-2020, an indicative amount of € 518 million has been set. Its main objective is to fight against poverty, through the strengthening of good governance and the promotion of a sustainable economy.
Hungary is “absolutely interested” in negotiation of a new post-Cotonou agreement insured Péter Szijjártó, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, however it has also some expectations concerning the Migration Chapter of the agreement, namely reflecting reality on illegal mass migration. The mandate to the European Commission negotiators led by Neven Mimica can be given by the Hungarian government as soon as the three following issues are included: in general the migration chapter should meet the realities; the acknowledgment of illegal migration as security threat to Europe; the stopping of illegal migration must be a goal.
“We see that there is a chance to agree on this three points” – Szijjártó continued, underlining that the negotiations with the Commission has lasted for some weeks, and there is no objections from the behalf of Mimica. The minister also underlined that both Balkans and Mediterranean routes for trafficking illegal migrants are active, representing security problems to be urgently addressed.
At the margins of the European foreign affairs Council Péter Szijjártó met with Brussels press-corps, sharing the position of the Hungarian government on the range of issues of international agenda, not the least the mandate to negotiate the post-Cotonou agreement to European Commission Neven Mimica.
Today in Brussels the Foreign Affairs Council is expected to discuss the negotiating mandate for the future agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) 79 countries. The current ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, also known as the Cotonou Agreement, will expire in February 2020.
The Cotonou Agreement is the overarching framework for EU relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. It was adopted in 2000 to replace the 1975 Lomé Convention.
It is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU, covering the EU’s relations with 79 countries, including 48 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Foreign ministers had an initial discussion during January’s Foreign Affairs Council. Development ministers had a discussion on 22 May 2018.
Members of Parliaments from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific gathered in Brussels this week for the 47th session of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly, and a joint intersessional meetings with Members of the European Parliament.
With a limited time before the start of the negotiations for a new partnership framework between the 79 members of the ACP Group of States and the European Union.
One of the key issues of concern for the ACP is the state of preparations, including the shared principles and rationales that would guide the process.
“Negotiations for [a new ACP-EU partnership] are so important that all voices of the ACP Group need to be heard, including parliamentarians, civil society, etc. The ACP we want, must be people-driven… because the issues touch on the ordinary lives of all ACP citizens,” emphasised the President of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly, Hon. Ibrahim Rassin Bundu, MP of Sierra Leone.
During an exchange of views with Brussels-based Ambassadors, the Secretary-General H.E. Dr. Patrick I. Gomes noted the call from representatives for a “radical departure” from the traditional relationship, marked by an “imbalance” between the two blocs of countries in terms of economic might and levels of technology and capacity.
Members urged consolidated efforts to achieve a level of sustainable development whereby ACP developing countries are able to progress from being dependent exporters of raw materials, to being able to add value to their own products.
“The underpinnings of the entire process for a post-Cotonou Agreement rests on the fundamental aim of achieving the structural transformation of ACP economies,” said Dr. Gomes, referring to the current ACP-EU partnership framework known as the “Cotonou Agreement” – a comprehensive and legally binding treaty that governs trade, development cooperation and political dialogue between EU and ACP countries. The agreement was signed in 2000 in Cotonou, Benin, for a period of 20 years.