[June 2012]Horsens, Denmark, recently witnessed the latest ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA). Apart from topics frequently discussed by the MEPs and their counterparts from the ACP Countries during previous meetings, they also took a deeper look at the consequences of the instability in Africa. While Louis Michel, Co-President of the Assembly, spoke in particular of the potentially devastating consequences of political insecurity in Mali for neighbouring states, such as Niger, Mauritania and Senegal, the side effects of the Libyan conflict on both the ACP Group and the EU were also discussed. Addressing the deputies, Mr. Michel also warned that the current crisis in the Sahel region could not be solved without both political and military intervention.
Renewed calls for flexibility on trade negotiations also echoed from the meeting. The President of the ACP members, Hon. Musikari Kombo (Kenya), demanded a withdrawal of the EU proposal to amend market access laws, which would set a deadline for finalising Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) for ACP countries, or else lose duty- and quota-free access to EU markets.
Moreover, ACP Secretary General Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas appealed for an approach based on “partnership”, with coherence between trade policies and development goals. “We will continue with the negotiations with a view of concluding EPAs that will be development-friendly – that is, EPAs which address our supply side constraints, development constraints and infrastructure constraints which do not enable us to produce and take advantage of the big European market.”
Fiji took advantage of this meeting to call for support and understanding from the EU and the ACP regarding the political situation in the country, and reforms and processes involved. Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola assured that Fiji’s journey toward parliamentary elections is on-track and in line with the government’s Roadmap for Democracy, and Sustainable Socio-Economic Development.
Future meetings at ACP-EU level will take place in Vanuatu. The country will the 37th session of the joint ACP-EU council of ministers between June 11 and June 15, 2012. It will be preceded by the 95th session of the ACP council on ministers in Port Vila. The conference is expected to attract 1,000 participants from ACP and EU member states.
Other ACP-EU issues also attracted the attention of the media, most notably regarding the Southern Africa Development Community SADC.....