By Peter Katjavivi
My presentation is entitled: “The Role of the EU-Africa Relationship within the Cotonou Framework”. In this presentation, I wish to briefly sketch the history of the African, Caribbean and Pacific member states (ACP) group working in partnership with the European Union (EU), and the concerns of ACP member states about the latest developments in this partnership.
In order to understand the present and shape our actions to build the future that we in the ACP aspire to, we need to have a clear appreciation of the past in terms of the path we have travelled along.
The ACP group consists of 79 states from the most diverse regions in the world. What they have in common is that most are former colonies of European powers. Most of these countries had to fight for their self-determination and freedom from colonial rule.
The formation of the United Nations after the Second World War produced favourable conditions in support of decolonisation and development in countries all over the world. The voiceless people of the world gained friends at the United Nations and its various agencies. Representatives of those countries that were fighting for their independence went to the United Nations to make their case.
Ambassadors from these countries came together at the UN, constituting a number of regional lobbying groupings for various issues. The African Group of Ambassadors at the UN made a name for itself in this regard.
This was followed by the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement, which played a critical role in achieving freedom and independence in different parts of the world. However, it was always clear that even after political independence, the battle for economic development still had to be won.
Soon after the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957, opportunities were created for the six signatory countries – namely, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands – to cooperate with the overseas countries and territories (OCTs), predominantly former French colonies in Western and Central Africa.
The UK’s accession to the European Community in 1973, as well as Spain and Portugal’s in 1986 had a positive impact on the expansion of the Africa-European cooperation to include the Commonwealth countries and respective former colonies.
The Commonwealth Secretariat itself, then headed by Sonny Ramphal, played an important role in bringing the former British colonies, now Commonwealth members, into the arrangement of European Community relations with other parts of the developing world.
It was against this background that the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) was established by the Georgetown Agreement in 1975. This brought to life the Georgetown or the Partnership Agreement between the ACP and the European Union, officially called the “ACP-EC Partnership Agreement”, or “Cotonou Agreement”. All members of the ACP Group, except Cuba, are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement that binds them to the EU, and is aimed at:
– sustainable development of its member states;
– their gradual integration into the global economy – this entails making poverty alleviation a matter of priority and establishing a new, fairer, and more equitable world order;
– coordination of the activities of the ACP Group in the framework of the implementation of ACP-EC Partnership Agreements;
– consolidation of unity and solidarity among ACP States, as well as understanding among their peoples;
– establishment and consolidation of peace and stability in a free and democratic society.
The Cotonou Agreement is based on four main pillars:
1. equality of partners and ownership of development strategies;
3. dialogue and mutual obligation;
4. differentiation and regionalisation.
From 1975 until 2000 the relations between the EU and the ACP countries were governed by the Lom???_?_’???_?’???_?