Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo met with influential leaders and eminent decision-makers from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU) to discuss the legacy and future prospects of the ACP-EU Partnership, among other issues.
Under the theme ‘From Lomé to Cotonou Post-2020: a changing perspective in the ACP-EU relationship’, the High Level event aimed for a fruitful exchange of views in order to evaluate experience and debate options for ACP-EU relations beyond 2020, when the current Cotonou Partnership Agreement is due to come to an end.
Jagdeo, a former President of Guyana and a member of the ACP Eminent Persons Group, was part of a panel debate that included a number of influential figures.
He addressed the valuable nature of the partnership between EU and ACP, as underpinned by the Lomé Convention and the Cotonou Agreement.
The Lomé Convention is a trade and aid agreement between the European Economic Community (EEC) and 71 ACP countries, first signed in February 1975 in Lomé, Togo.
The Cotonou Agreement is a treaty between the European Union and the ACP countries. It was signed in June 2000 in Cotonou, Benin’s largest city, by 78 ACP countries (Cuba did not sign), and the then fifteen Member States of the European Union.
Jagdeo pointed out that for many ACP countries the EU had been the largest source of development funding. However, he stressed that many elements of that partnership did not work because they were asymmetrically determined by the EU without a full understanding of the realities of many member states of the ACP, particularly the island states.
At the meeting, the Opposition Leader also explored the evolving challenges to any future partnership beyond 2020 when the Cotonou agreement ends.
He outlined too the key elements of the work of the Eminent Persons Group of which he is the Vice Chairman. Jagdeo stressed the necessity of the Heads of State and Government examining the report in their upcoming meeting in Papua New Guinea so as to approve the key framework to guide the negotiations with the EU for the post-2020 relationship.
The longstanding partnership brings together 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the 28 Member States of the EU under a comprehensive cooperation agreement, covering trade, political dialogue and development cooperation.
The event was co-organised by the ACP Secretariat and the European Commission. It represents a first opportunity to jointly discuss the ACP-EU relationship at this level since internal processes for reflection on the topic were launched by both sides.