Summary Report of Public Consultation on Future of ACP-EU Relations Released

Alicia Nicholls

The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group and the European Union (EU) are currently in a period of reflection on the future and form of ACP-EU cooperation post the expiration of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) in 2020. The EU launched a public consultation “Towards a New Partnership between the EU and the ACP Countries after 2020” which took place between 6 October to 31 December 2015. Last Monday, the European Commission released its summary report of this public consultation.

A wide variety of stakeholders submitted responses, including the ACP Young Professionals Network whose response may be viewed here. Public authorities/ international organisations was the largest category of shareholder which sent responses, followed by civil society organisations.

As part of the ACP group, CARIFORUM countries have enjoyed a privileged relationship with the EU for the past four decades. The EU is a major trade, investment and development partner for CARIFORUM countries and it is in the region’s best interest to ensure that any new framework for EU-ACP engagement takes into account the region’s interests and concerns.

It is therefore quite unfortunate that there was such poor representation of CARIFORUM stakeholders among those which submitted responses as part of the joint consultation. Of the 103 responses received, only one came from a stakeholder within a CARIFORUM state – Jamaica.  The overwhelming majority of non-EU responses were from entities based in African countries.

Key points from the Summary Report

It was noted in the summary report that the major problem highlighted by respondents was “the difficulty to attribute progress or lack thereof specifically to the CPA framework or to EU policy as a whole”.
Some of the other key points noted in the summary report are that:
  • Respondents were generally of the opinion that the Cotonou Partnership has had a positive contribution to human and social development, including poverty reduction. However, opinions seem divided on its contribution towards sustainable and inclusive economic development.
  • Respondents, however, had a more critical opinion of the CPA’s effectiveness with respect to several other areas, including private sector development and foreign direct investment.
  • Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was the main priority put forward in regards to the future of joint ACP-EU relations, with private sector development, improved business environment and business promotion being identified as priorities in the framework of sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
  • With respect to the future form of ACP-EU collaboration, a large majority of respondents favoured a stronger role for civil society actors and the private sector.
The full summary report may be accessed here.
Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.
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