79 ACP Ministers Meeting in Lomé to Discuss Strategy for New Accord with EU

BRUSSELS, 25 MAY 2018 (ACP/IDN) – Seventy-nine African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are set to speak with one voice as they prepare to adopt a negotiating mandate for a pact with the European Union (EU) after the Cotonou Agreement expires in February 2020.

ACP Government Ministers will convene on May 27 for preparatory discussions dedicated to post-Cotonou negotiations.

Two days later, the ACP Council of Ministers meeting in Lomé, the capital of Togo in West Africa, for their 107th Session on May 29-30 will deliberate on repositioning the ACP as “a more effective global player” within the overarching framework of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Ministers will also address ways of “leveraging the principles of complementarity and subsidiarity” between the ACP Group and the Regional and Continental organisations, sustaining financing of the group and advancing the climate change agenda in its repositioned role as global player, representatives of the ACP Secretariat said at a press conference in Brussels.

Central to the discussions in Lomé is the Revision of the Georgetown Agreement named after the capital of Guyana, where it was signed on June 7, 1975.

The Georgetown Agreement and the first Lomé Convention, both endorsed in 1975, established the ACP Group – then comprising 46 member states – to stimulate “regional and inter-regional cooperation amongst the ACP States and amongst developing countries in general, and to strengthen the links between the respective regional organisations to which they belong”, and also to promote implementation of “a new world economic order”.

ACP’s cooperation partner, the European Economic Union (EEC), then counted nine member states. Countries that later joined the Group were still undergoing the process of decolonisation.

According to ACP sources, revision of the Georgetown Agreement after the previous 2003 amendment would include examination of provisions such as the Preamble, and the criteria and categories of membership in the organisation, giving close attention to the call of ACP Heads of State and Government at their Seventh Summit in 2012 for “contacts and relations with other States and groups of States” to feature prominently.

The revised Agreement will ensure that while the foundation is strong and has proven, over the last 43 years of the ACP’s existence, to be deeply grounded, dynamic and open to innovative changes, ACP sources said.

Other key items on the agenda include commodities and trade issues, sustainable economic development, and development finance.

In the margins of their 107th Session, the ACP Council of Ministers will on May 26, 2018 hold consultations with the Continental and Regional organisations such as the African Union Commission (AUC), The Caribbean Community CARICOM, and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).

The ACP Group recognises the important and active role the regional and continental organisations are playing and calls for preserving and building upon such collaboration in a post-Cotonou Agreement, ACP sources said. The focus of the meeting will be to ensure the contributions of the RECS (renewable energy certificates) and RIOS (regional integration organisations) into the Group’s negotiating framework for a post-Cotonou Agreement.

The ACP Group of States is bound by treaty obligations as the largest grouping of developing countries with a permanent secretariat and observer status at the United Nations.

The Group is actively implementing UN Resolutions and Programmes jointly with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), UN WOMEN and the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

The ACP Council of Ministers is the main decision-making body of the ACP Group under the Summit of Heads of State and Government.