The Sixteenth Ministerial Troika meeting between the European Union (EU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was held in Abuja on 11 November 2009.
PEACE AND SECURITY
Situations of peace and security in ECOWAS Member-States
The Parties expressed mutual concern about the attempts at constitutional manipulation and the reversals of democracy in some ECOWAS Member States. In this regard, the EU expressed its appreciation of the measures being taken by ECOWAS to defend the gains of the democratization process and uphold the rule of law in West Africa.
The EU informed ECOWAS of its proceedings in accordance with Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, by which the Nigerien authorities have been invited to hold consultations in Brussels with the EU on the way out of the political stalemate in the Country. The Parties agreed to continue to closely coordinate their efforts in support of the dialogue and called on all the other concerned members of the international community to join efforts to restore consensus and the rule of law in Niger.
The EU and ECOWAS welcomed the decision by the Secretary General of the UN to establish an International Commission of Inquiry into the events of 28 September 2009 in Conakry and underlined the personal responsibility of the perpetrators for the killings, sexual violence and human rights violations. BothParties recalled the ECOWAS and EU decisions of 17 and 27 October respectively to impose an arms embargo on Guinea and to adopt measures targeting the members of CNDD and individuals associated with them,responsible for the gross violation of human rights and/or the political stalemate in the country. The EU further recalled that consultations under article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement have been closed since July 2009 and that only initiatives relating to the humanitarian aid and support for democratization remain open. The gradual resumption of EU-cooperation with Guinea will depend on concrete progress in peaceful democratic transition and the reestablishment of the rule of law in the country.
The EU and ECOWAS lauded the peaceful and orderly conduct of the June and July presidential elections in Guinea Bissau. The Parties reaffirmed their commitment to assist Guinea-Bissau to foster peace and stability by restoring essential services to the population, strengthening governance institutions, and embarking on the alleviation of poverty and the fight against organised crime and impunity. The EU announced its intention to rally the international community for an international donor conference to be held in Europe in the first semester 2010 aimed at mobilising the necessary financial resources for the economic development and stabilisation of the country, simultaneously linked to improvements in the social, economic and political areas as well as to the security sector reform.
Both Parties stressed the utmost urgency of a swift and comprehensive reform of the country’s security sector. In this context, ECOWAS informed the meeting of the visit of a joint AU/ECOWAS information Mission to the country to assess the modalities for assisting the new government in the implementation of the reform
of the Defence and Security Sector, post conflict reconstruction and development and the fight against drug trafficking. ECOWAS further announced that a preparatory conference on security sector reform in Guinea Bissau will be held in Abuja before the end of the year. ECOWAS commended the ESDP mission in Guinea Bissau (EUSSR) for the work accomplished in the security sector in Guinea Bissau and expressed its support for the extension of the mission beyond November 2009.
The regional peace and security architecture
ECOWAS Standby Force
Both Parties noted the steady progress being made by ECOWAS in the operationalisation of the ECOWAS Stand-by Force, whose full validation had originally been envisaged for 2010 in the roadmap of the Africa Standby Force. This will include the scaling up of efforts to bring the development of the all- important police and civilian components up to speed with the military component thus ensuring an integrated approach and allowing an effective and flexible rights- based response to possible crisis. The EU welcomed the active participation of ECOWAS in the continental exercise Amani Africa. The EU also encouraged ECOWAS to finalise the development of the Rapid Deployment Capability. The Parties welcomed the logistics exercise that was carried out in June 09 and which constituted a further step towards full operational capability of the
ECOWAS Stand-by Force. They noted that detailed planning, elaboration of clear objectives and associated priorities in line with agreed policies is of utmost importance to make further progress and allow for focused, harmonised support by partners.
Climate change, environment and energy security
The Parties reiterated that climate change is one of the most demanding challenges of our time requiring an urgent and extraordinary global response and that the increase in global temperature should not exceed 2°C. To this end the Parties expressed their determination to step up the pace of negotiations in order to reach a positive and ambitious outcome, including a shared vision, mitigation, adaptation, technology development and transfer, and financial resources at the 15th conference of the parties to UNFCCC in Copenhagen in December this year.
The Parties stressed that developed countries should continue to take the lead by committing to deep emission reduction cuts in the medium and longer term and to the provision of capacity building, financing and technology to put developing countries on a low-carbon development path and to help them adapt to unavoidable harmful consequences of climate change. They recognized the important implications that climate change will have for global security and welcomed the initiative by the EU of a dialogue with major parties in order to look at possible areas of cooperation.
ECOWAS and the EU called on developing countries to prepare as soon as possible low-carbon development growth plans in order to indicate the actions to be taken and the level of support they require. The EU welcomed the advanced stage of preparations by ECOWAS to adopt a Regional Action Programme toreduce Vulnerability to Climate Change in West Africa, including setting up a Climate Change Secretariat at the ECOWAS Commission to facilitate the mainstreaming of climate change into priority national, regional and multi-country investments, programs and projects.
The Parties reconfirmed their commitment to intensify their cooperation within the framework of the priorities agreed for the Africa-EU Energy Partnership. They reconfirmed that, with the right policies in place, there should be no contradiction between responding to the climate change challenge and enhancing energy security and identified the future development of the energy sector in the ECOWAS region as a key area for the deepening of bilateral cooperation.
Regional integration, EPA and the development dimension (EPADP)
The Parties emphasised the importance of regional economic integration for consolidation of peace and security, the eradication of poverty, and the development of all economic sectors in West Africa. In this context, the Parties welcomed the progress being made in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations and reiterated the commitment of both sides to demonstrate the necessary flexibility, including the consideration of special and differential treatment issues, in order to resolve the outstanding areas of divergence and swiftly conclude the negotiations for the establishment of a comprehensive regional EPA covering trade in goods, EPA-related cooperation and other trade- related issues. Both Parties underscored the importance of revitalising trade flows between West Africa and Europe, especially against the backdrop of the global economic and financial crisis, and stressed the positive role an EPA could play in this process.
The Parties welcomed the progress made by West Africa in the definition of the EPA Development Program (EPADP). The EU and ECOWAS underlined the instrumental role of the EPADP in enabling the West African region to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the EPA whilst minimising the adjustment costs resulting from the implementation of the Agreement. In that context, they also welcomed the references to the EPADP in the joint EC/ECOWAS/UEMOA statement issued in Abuja on 16 October 2009, underlining in particular the EPADP as a coherent framework for the implementation of priority actions of EU assistance (European Commission and Member States) to support the EPA Development dimension.