Friday, April 24, 2009

Concord met with Parliamentarians from South and North

During the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, that was held from 6 to 9 April 2009 in Prague, Concord discussed with Parliamentarians from the ACP countries and the EU member states about various policy issues. An elaboration of the most important issues on the agenda can be found in a series of Concord Briefing Papers.

Review of the 10th EDF

The 10th EDF financing EC aid to ACP countries runs from 2008 until 2013. The mid-term review of the Country Strategy Papers which form the basis of EDF programming, is scheduled to take place in 2009.

Concord is critical (see Briefing Paper) about the fact that the review of the guidelines which will decide on the scope of the process, are currently only discussed within the European Commission without participation of the EU or ACP Parliamentarians, the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) or Civil Society. These groups were also excluded from programming within the 10th EDF which is in violation of the 'ownership' and 'partnership' principles as promoted by the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA). Concord demands to use the mid-term review as an opportunity to make current EC aid more democratic and in line with the CPA principles.

Review of the CPA

The next review of the CPA is planned to take place in 2010. According to Concord (see Briefing Paper) the review will have serious consequences on the relations between the EU and the ACP countries.

If the European Commission succeeds in streamlining the CPA according to the demands of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES), this will weaken the original Agreement which implies downgrading the EDF to a funding mechanism for the JAES, the funding of non-ACP countries through the EDF and the weakening of ACP institutions. Furthermore this might jeopardize the CPA demands on participation of Non-State Actors and Parliamentarians. Additionally, the Political Dialogue could be weakened limiting it to policies which are of interest to the EU (i.e. migration, security, governance) while ignoring others (the economic, climate and food crises).

Concord believes that overloading the CPA with new political priorities is a serious concern and could undermine essential elements of the agreement relating to human rights and democratic principles.

Civil Society and Parliamentarians

The participation of Non-State Actors and Parliamentarians in all policy and programming processes is one of the core principles within the Cotonou framework. In reference to this the European and Pan-African Parliament recently demanded oversight in the drafting of ACP Country Strategy Papers, which should go beyond 'information only'. The ACP JPA agreed that ACP parliaments should play a role in the Country Strategy Papers. The upcoming reviews will provide an opportunity to examine how this works in practice. Concord praises the effectiveness of its cooperation with the JPA and proposes steps to further improve collaboration through joint agendas and improved communication in-between meetings (see Briefing Paper).

See also the Briefing Papers on

- Intra ACP funds
- Gender and Development
- Governance as new priority in EU-ACP relations
- Africa-EU Strategy

by Martin Behrens

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