Wednesday, May 09, 2007

CONCORD meets with Portuguese Presidency

On 3 May, a CONCORD delegation met with Prof. Dr. João Gomes Cravinho, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs & Cooperation of Portugal. Mr. Cravinho explained that the upcoming Portuguese Presidency will deal with a number of dossiers, some of those are 'inherited' while others are put on the agenda as an initiative of the Presidency. Among the inherited dossiers are the EU-ACP negotiations for Economic Partnership Agreements (which the Commission would like to finalise by the end of this year), the Joint EU-Africa Strategy, and the Consensus on Humanitarian Aid. Two issues (out of the list of 12 thematic areas for Policy Coherence) will be put on the agenda by an own initiative: security and migration.

The Portuguese Presidency has asked ECDPM to produce a study on fragile states. This will be the topic of a conference which is planned to take place in July. In November, a meeting is planned where development and defence specialists will discuss issues of common concern. It is hoped that these initiatives will also be
useful for the Commission which is working on a Communication on fragile states. Mr. Cravinho asked CONCORD members for input on the issue of fragile states.

On the issue of migration, Mr. Cravinho is of the opinion that the development community has homework to do. It is too easy to say that development will take away the reasons for migration from South to North. Guidelines may have to be developed concerning the issue of migration and development.

Asked about the Portuguese position on the EPA negotiations, Mr Cravinho said that the issue may be on the agenda of the informal meeting of Development Ministers in September. The CONCORD delegation urged the Development Ministers to be more assertive to ensure that trade relations between the EU and the ACP countries will really be instruments for development from the very beginning (rather than development money being used, ex post, to soften the effects of trade liberalisation).

Concerning the Joint EU-Africa Strategy, the CONCORD delegation expressed apprehension. What could be the significance of such a joint strategy if many things are already 'done and dusted', such as EPAs, the Governance Initiative, EDF Programming, the Communication on fragile states, etc? Mr. Cravinho explained that, for him, this is the beginning of a new process and, hopefully, a new way of working. Member States are taking this seriously and reference was made to the initiative of the German Presidency to establish an ad hoc group of Member States on the Joint Strategy.

Source: EU News - Issue 3, May 2007 (APRODEV, CIDSE, Caritas Europa).

See also Euforic dossiers on EU Presidency.