Official Journal of the European Union

C 215/2


The future of ACP-EU relations beyond 2020

European Parliament resolution of 4 October 2016 on the future of ACP-EU relations beyond 2020 (2016/2053(INI))

(2018/C 215/01)

The European Parliament,

having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000 (the Cotonou Agreement), and to its revisions of 2005 and 2010 (1),

having regard to the Georgetown Agreement of 1975 setting up the ACP Group, and to its revision of 1992 (2),

having regard to the Commission communication of 8 October 2003 entitled ‘Towards the full integration of cooperation with ACP countries in the EU budget’ (COM(2003)0590),

having regard to the Joint Consultation Paper of the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 6 October 2015 entitled ‘Towards a new partnership between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries after 2020’ (JOIN(2015)0033),

having regard to its earlier resolutions on ACP-EU relations, in particular that of 11 February 2015 on the work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (3), that of 13 June 2013 (4) on the second amendment to the Cotonou Agreement of 23 June 2000, that of 5 February 2009 on the development impact of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) (5), and that of 1 April 2004 on the budgetisation of the European Development Fund (6),

having regard to the past resolutions of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, and in particular that of 9 December 2015 on ‘Forty years of partnership: evaluation of the impact on trade and development in the ACP countries and prospects for enduring relations between the ACP countries and the European Union’ (7),

having regard to its previous resolutions on policy coherence for development (PCD),

having regard to the joint statement of 9 December 2015 by the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly on the future of ACP-EU relations (8),

having regard to the EU global strategy for foreign and security policy, submitted to the European Council at its meeting of 28 and 29 June 2016,

having regard to the joint communication of the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 21 March 2012 entitled ‘Towards a renewed EU-Pacific development partnership’ (JOIN(2012)0006),

having regard to the joint communication of the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 26 June 2012 entitled ‘Joint EU-Caribbean partnership strategy’ (JOIN(2012)0018),

having regard to the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, adopted by the African and European Heads of State and Government at the Lisbon summit on 9 December 2007 (9),

having regard to its resolution of 6 October 2015 on the role of local authorities in developing countries in development cooperation (10),

having regard to the joint ACP-EU declaration of 20 June 2014 on the post-2015 agenda (11),

having regard to the Sipopo Declaration of the 7th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government held on 13 and 14 December 2012, entitled ‘The Future of the ACP Group in a Changing World: Challenges and Opportunities’ (12),

having regard to the Third International Conference on Financing for Development of 13-16 July 2015 and to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, endorsed by the UN General Assembly on 27 July 2015 (13),

having regard to the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development and the outcome document adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015, entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ (14),

having regard to the 41st session of the ACP-EU Joint Council, held in Dakar (Senegal) on 28 and 29 April 2016,

having regard to the 8th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on 31 May and 1 June 2016 adopting the Waigani Communiqué on the future perspectives of the ACP Group of States and the Port Moresby Declaration, accepting the final report of the Eminent Persons Group reflecting on the future of the ACP Group,

having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Development and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Budgets (A8-0263/2016),


whereas the strength and acquis of the Cotonou Agreement are based on a number of unique characteristics: it is a legally binding document, it has an unparalleled numerical strength of 79+28 member states, it is comprehensive through its three pillars of development cooperation, political cooperation and economic and trade cooperation, it has a joint institutional framework, and it has a large budget in the form of the European Development Fund (EDF);


whereas the overarching objective of the Cotonou Agreement: ‘reducing and eventually eradicating poverty consistent with the objectives of sustainable development and the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy’ is firmly anchored in Article 1 thereof; whereas the partnership is based on a set of basic values and principles, including respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy based on the rule of law and transparent and accountable governance;


whereas over 80 % of the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) are from ACP regions, which gives particular relevance to the EU-ACP partnership;


whereas there have been changes to the political and economic landscape in the ACP Group and the European Union since the Cotonou Agreement was signed;


whereas the future of ACP-EU relations should be based on a new reflection on the potential and obstacles ahead for EU-ACP cooperation;


whereas the numerical strength of the ACP and EU member states has not sufficiently translated into joint action in global fora;


whereas the ACP-EU partnership has played an important role in progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs);


whereas, on the other hand, results as regards the objectives of poverty eradication and integration of ACP countries into the world economy have been insufficient to date, given that half of the ACP member states are still among the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) and that the ACP member states together account for less than 5 % of global trade and around 2 % of global GDP;


whereas trade relations form the second pillar of the Cotonou Agreement, and whereas Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are a means of furthering those relations;


whereas Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are defined in Article 36 of the Cotonou Agreement as development instruments with the ‘aim to foster smooth and gradual integration of ACP States into the world economy, especially by making full use of regional integration and south-south trade’; whereas the inclusion of EPAs in the Cotonou Agreement promotes policy coherence for development;


whereas the Cotonou Agreement takes account of the growing importance of regional integration in ACP countries and in ACP-EU cooperation, as well as its role in fostering peace and security, promoting growth and tackling cross-border challenges;


whereas the Cotonou Agreement addresses new global challenges related to climate change, migration, peace and security (such as the fight against terrorism, extremism and international criminality), but has produced few concrete results in these areas;


whereas meetings of joint ACP-EU institutions, and notably the Joint Council of Ministers, have produced few concrete results and have seen both low and low-level attendance;


whereas the EU finances approximately 50 % of the costs of the ACP secretariat; whereas a number of ACP member states are not paying their full membership contributions;


whereas political dialogue on essential elements, as referred to in Articles 8 and 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, is a concrete and legal means of upholding the common values of the ACP-EU partnership and promoting democracy and human rights, which are fundamental for sustainable development;


whereas there is a clear need to ensure that human rights conditionality is maintained, and to strengthen political dialogue in the new agreement;


whereas, despite the recognition of their importance, the involvement of national parliaments, local authorities, civil society and the private sector in political dialogue has been rather limited; whereas the role of the ACP Group as such has been limited to cases where Article 96 is invoked; whereas political dialogue, and Article 96 in particular, have mostly been used at a late stage of political crises and not in a preventative manner;


whereas despite the clear recognition of the role of national parliaments, local authorities, civil society and the private sector in the Cotonou Agreement following its 2010 revision, their participation in deliberations on ACP-EU policies and activities has been limited;


whereas civil society organisations are facing increasingly restrictive legislation and other obstacles that limit their activities and space;


whereas the ACP region includes a number of overseas countries and territories (OCTs) associated with the European Union whose special links with the EU argue in favour of a move away from the traditional development assistance approach, so as to take better account of their membership of the European family; whereas although OCTs enjoy a special status, they continue to receive funding under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), in the same way as the ACP countries;


whereas the EDF is financed through direct contributions from EU Member States and is not subject to normal EU budgetary rules; whereas Parliament does not have any power over the EDF budget other than by granting discharge for disbursements already made, nor does it have formal scrutiny rights over EDF programming;


whereas under the 11th EDF some EUR 900 million is set aside for the African Peace Facility and some EUR 1,4 billion from the EDF reserve will be used for the EU Trust Fund for Africa;


whereas the domestic resources of the ACP countries, together with remittances from diaspora communities, could play a key part in funding development;


whereas budgetisation of the EDF would allow for democratic scrutiny, enhance visibility and increase transparency in the use of EU development funds; whereas, on the other hand, the multiannual nature of EDF programming allows for resource predictability, and budgetisation could lead to a decrease in development funds to ACP countries in favour of other external policy priorities and could be seen to weaken the privileged EU-ACP partnership; whereas budgetisation of the EDF could also jeopardise the financing of the African Peace Facility, and of other important initiatives such as the Africa Trust Fund, unless a dedicated instrument for financing security expenses linked to development cooperation is created;


Affirms that ACP-EU cooperation is a valuable and unique achievement that has strengthened bonds between ACP and EU peoples and countries and their parliaments throughout the last 40 years; underlines — in light of the ACP countries’ demonstration of their commitment to taking joint action as a group — that in order to improve the effectiveness of cooperation and adapt it to new challenges, a new structure must be adopted that maintains those parts of the ACP-EU acquis that are universal in nature, such as a commitment to human rights and gender equality, human development, good governance and democracy, the objective of the rule of law, and exchange of best practice in a common framework, while the main work must be carried out in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, that is, it must take place in regional agreements that are tailored to specific regional needs and to the mutual interests existing between the EU and the respective region;


Emphasises that both the common framework and the regional agreements should be legally binding; underlines that, in order to strengthen their effectiveness, reduce duplication and avoid overlapping policy frameworks, the regional agreements with Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific should be designed in a way that takes into account existing regional and sub-regional organisations, e.g. the African Union, Regional Economic Communities, regional strategies or regional agreements such as Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), and should allow the inclusion of additional countries, such as northern African countries, or the creation of groupings in accordance with specific interests or needs (e.g. development status, as in the case of LDCs, or geographical peculiarities, as in the case of small island developing states);

Objectives, principles and terms of cooperation


Calls for the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be placed at the centre of a new agreement, and for the creation of strong monitoring mechanisms to ensure that implementation of the agreement contributes to and promotes the SDGs;


Calls for an ACP-EU peer monitoring, accountability and review mechanism to scrutinise SDG implementation in member states on a regular basis, with ACP and EU representatives not only from central governmental institutions but also from parliaments, regional and local authorities, civil society and scientific communities, drawing up yearly conclusions and recommendations for national, regional and global review processes and follow-up;


Stresses, furthermore, that full account should be taken of knowledge-based policies during the programming, adoption and implementation of the sector-specific public policies provided for under the new agreement;


Calls for the fight against, and ultimate eradication of, poverty and inequalities and the promotion of sustainable development to be the overarching objectives of ACP-EU cooperation; insists, however, that a new agreement must primarily be a political project based on the principle of ownership and clearly leave behind the donor-recipient mentality; considers that cooperation should take place in areas of common interest where mutual gains can be expected, not just in economic terms but also with regard to peace and security, human rights and the rule of law, good governance and democracy, migration, the environment, climate change and other areas related to the prosperity of both ACP and EU populations;


Reiterates its view that policy coherence for development (PCD) is a key element for achieving the new sustainable development agenda; believes that the comprehensive nature of the Cotonou Agreement promotes PCD and should therefore be safeguarded in a new agreement; points out the need to maintain specific provisions on PCD and to strengthen dialogue on related issues in the framework of the new agreement; recalls its proposal of instituting standing PCD co-rapporteurs in the framework of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly;


Believes that respect for internationally agreed aid effectiveness principles is key for accomplishing the 2030 Agenda, and considers that a reference to this should be included in a future agreement;


Calls for the essential elements in the Cotonou Agreement regarding human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law to continue to form the value-based foundation of a new agreement; calls for good governance to be added as an essential element, in line with new SDG 16, covering peace and justice and effective institutions; reiterates the importance of fully implementing Article 9 of the Cotonou Agreement;


Stresses that political dialogue is a fundamental part of the Cotonou Agreement, and that Articles 8 and 96 are a concrete and legal means to uphold the essential elements of ACP-EU relations, though they have not always been used effectively in the past; calls for political dialogue to remain a central and legal pillar in the overarching framework and at the regional level of the new agreement; calls for political dialogue to be used more effectively and systematically and in a proactive way in order to prevent political crises;


Points out that Article 97 of the Cotonou Agreement provides for a consultation procedure and appropriate measures to deal with serious cases of corruption, and considers it regrettable that this article has been invoked only once to date; calls for that procedure to be strengthened in the new partnership agreement between the EU and the ACP countries, so as to make it fully operational;


Underlines in this regard that political dialogue is a valuable basis for improving the situation of the peoples of the partner countries; regrets the insufficient use of this instrument and its weak effectiveness so far; calls, therefore, for improved monitoring of the human rights situation and of the other essential and fundamental elements of the agreement, stresses that the monitoring must be inclusive and participatory and calls for a regular biennial or multiannual evaluation and joint reports on respect of these elements by all ACP-EU member states with the purpose of naming, shaming and praising; calls for the results of these reports to be presented at the overarching ACP-EU meetings and used as a basis for political dialogue and for them to be consulted during national, regional and global SDG implementation reviews;


Calls for stronger participation of national parliaments and regional and local authorities, both in ACP and EU countries, at all stages of ACP-EU policies and activities, from future planning and programming to implementation, evaluation and monitoring, particularly from the viewpoint of the principle of subsidiarity;


Urges all the parties to the new agreement to undertake to give local and regional government greater autonomy and build up its capacity, so that it is able to carry out its duties effectively and to play a significant role in the development of ACP countries;


Calls for stronger involvement in political dialogue, programming and implementation and support for capacity-building by civil society, especially for local groups that are directly concerned by policies; underlines in this regard the danger of shrinking space for civil society in some countries, and the need also to include groups such as minorities, young people and women that are unable to organise their interests or that are, despite a legitimate democratic interest, not recognised by their government;


Believes that the private sector can play a pivotal role in the development process and can contribute to financing development, provided investment occurs with respect for the people, for traditional ownership or use, and for the environment, in line with the UN guiding principles on business and human rights; calls, therefore, for private investment to be supported under the auspices of the European Investment Bank (EIB), provided it is in line with international human rights law and social and environmental protection rules; underlines that in the new partnership priority should be given to small-scale producers and farmers and on securing an enabling environment for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs); calls, furthermore, for local and national private sectors to be listened to during policymaking, and at the programming and implementation stages;

Future ACP-EU institutions


Calls for Joint ACP-EU Council meetings to include topical and urgent political debates, including on sensitive issues, with the aim of adopting joint conclusions on them; calls on the relevant ACP and EU member state ministries to improve their participation at the level of ministers, in order to give the meetings the necessary political legitimacy and confer the needed visibility on the principle of partnership;


Calls for the new cooperation agreement to include a strong parliamentary dimension, through a Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), that will provide for an open democratic and comprehensive parliamentary dialogue, including on difficult and sensitive subjects, advance common (regional) political projects, provide a democratic underpinning for them through the participation of multi-stakeholders, scrutinise the executive’s work and development cooperation, promote democracy and human rights, and thus make an important contribution to a new cooperation partnership on an equal footing; underlines the importance of the early involvement of the JPA in all relevant discussions regarding the post-2020 ACP-EU partnership;


Strongly believes that the JPA should ensure the adequate democratic and proportional representation and participation of all political forces in its debates; calls, therefore, for the national delegations to the JPA to include parliamentary representatives of their national political spectrum and to guarantee the presence of opposition;


Calls for the JPA to be aligned with the new regional structure, thus focusing its work in regional fora on issues of regional importance, strongly involving the national and regional parliaments, while also maintaining regular, but less frequent, joint ACP-EU meetings; calls for thematic topical meetings with civil society, local authorities and the private sector to be included in JPA sessions with a view to further developing and broadening debates on topics linked to the JPA agenda;


Calls on the JPA Bureau to develop a more strategic orientation of the Assembly’s work programme; calls for future JPA Committee reports to make a clear link to the 17 SDGs so as to allow for continuous monitoring of each of these goals; calls for an alignment of common resolutions in the overarching ACP-EU forum on urgent international topics, delays regarding SDG-relevant topics and breaches of human rights, and an alignment of resolutions in regional or other respective meetings on current topics and issues that are urgent and of particular interest for a region or a specific group; in this context, reminds the VP/HR of the political importance of the presence of the Council at ministerial level in the JPA sessions; calls for the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU JPA to be invited to Joint Council meetings in order to ensure an effective and reciprocal flow of information and to improve institutional cooperation;


Calls for further efforts to be made to improve JPA scrutiny of development programming, bearing in mind the development effectiveness principles and follow-up to such scrutiny; calls on the Commission and governments to promote the involvement of national parliaments, local and regional authorities, civil society actors, the private sector and diaspora communities in all the different scrutiny phases of development programming, and to supply all available information in a timely and transparent manner to national parliaments in order to assist them in their exercise of democratic scrutiny;


Considers that the EU-ACP partnership should try to engage further with other partners at the global level (such as the African Union or the United Nations) and other international powers wherever possible, and work on enhanced coordination and cooperation, without duplicating work or missions, in order to tackle the challenges of wars, internal conflicts, insecurity, fragility and transition;

Future funding


Is convinced that the simultaneous expiry of the Cotonou Agreement and of the Union’s multiannual financial framework (MFF) provides an opportunity to finally decide on the budgetisation of the European Development Fund in order to enhance efficiency and effectiveness, transparency, democratic scrutiny, accountability and the visibility and coherence of EU development financing; stresses, however, that this budgetisation should be conditioned by (i) a guaranteed ring-fencing of developing funds to maintain the level of financing for developing countries, and (ii) a permanent and separate solution for EU financing of security expenses that are linked to and in coherence with development cooperation; stresses that, even if budgetised, the EDF should include benchmarks that are aligned with EU development cooperation; urges the two parties to modernise funding instruments and to promote general and sectoral budget support when possible;


Points out that the Union budget already provides instruments targeted at specific partners and that EDF budgetisation can be designed so as to reflect and promote the privileged ACP-EU relationship with a view to promoting sustainable development; calls on the Commission to present a roadmap which addresses the abovementioned issues, prior to presenting the necessary proposals for the next MFF;


Recalls that future ACP-EU relations must be of a political nature, e.g. working towards common political projects in different international fora, and not mainly of a donor-recipient nature; stresses, therefore, that EU development aid principles must be applied on an equal basis to all developing countries, and that advanced ACP countries must therefore graduate out of receiving EU development aid on the same terms as non-ACP countries; considers that a higher degree of self-financing by the ACP countries would be in line with the ACP ambitions to be an autonomous player, and stresses in this context the importance of including in the new agreement enhanced tools for building ACP countries’ capacity to fund vital economic sectors; calls on the parties to redouble their efforts to build capacity in the ACP countries and to harness and make good use of domestic resources by, in particular, strengthening tax systems, ensuring sound management of natural resources and fostering industrialisation and the processing of raw materials for local, regional and world markets;


Underscores that the 11th EDF is the main source of funding for the African Peace Facility (APF), despite the fact that this was meant to be a provisional solution when the APF was established in 2003; calls for the creation of a dedicated instrument for financing security expenses linked to development cooperation;


Notes the Commission communication of 7 June 2016 on establishing a new partnership framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration; notes that the EU budget and the EDF contribution to the package of EUR 8 billion is exclusively composed of aid which was already planned; calls for development assistance to beneficiaries not to be jeopardised and for migration-related initiatives to be financed with fresh appropriations;


Calls for the introduction of a dedicated instrument for all OCTs which is in keeping with their special status and their membership of the European family; calls for closer cooperation between ACP countries and OCTs, with a view to fostering inclusive and sustainable development in their respective regions and integrating OCTs more fully into their regional environments;

Trade dimension: Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)


Reiterates that EPAs constitute a basis for regional cooperation and that they must be instruments for development and regional integration; highlights, therefore, the relevance of legally binding sustainability provisions (on human rights, social and environmental standards) in all EPAs, and underlines the importance of creating effective monitoring systems that include a wide range of civil society in order to identify and prevent any potential negative effects due to trade liberalisation;


Calls for a post-Cotonou Agreement as a political umbrella agreement under which binding minimum requirements for EPAs are set, in order to ensure continuity for EPA linkages in the existing Cotonou Agreement to sustainability provisions on good governance, respect for human rights, including among the most vulnerable people, and respect for social and environmental standards, and because it would provide an adequate framework for sustainable development and policy coherence; calls for a joint parliamentary scrutiny and monitoring process on the impact of the EPA as well as structured civil society monitoring mechanisms;


o o


Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the ACP Council, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the Bureau of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

(1)  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/intcoop/acp/03_01/pdf/mn3012634_en.pdf

(2)  http://www.epg.acp.int/fileadmin/user_upload/Georgetown_1992.pdf

(3)  OJ C 310, 25.8.2016, p. 19.

(4)  OJ C 65, 19.2.2016, p. 257.

(5)  OJ C 67 E, 18.3.2010, p. 120.

(6)  OJ C 103 E, 29.4.2004, p. 833.

(7)  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/intcoop/acp/2015_acp2/pdf/101905en.pdf

(8)  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/intcoop/acp/2015_acp2/pdf/1081264en.pdf

(9)  http://www.africa-eu-partnership.org/sites/default/files/documents/eas2007_joint_strategy_en.pdf

(10)  Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0336.

(11)  http://www.acp.int/content/acp-eu-stand-together-post-2015-development-agenda

(12)  http://www.epg.acp.int/fileadmin/user_upload/Sipopo_Declaration.pdf

(13)  UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/69/313.

(14)  UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/1.