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.