ACP Secretariat website. The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Day, 7th June, has been marked in Brussels, Belgium, with Secretary-General Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas calling for an open discussion on the future of the Group. Speaking at the symposium to mark the anniversary in Brussels, Dr Chambas said that the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009 and its conspicuous silence about the ACP has raised legitimate concerns on the future of the ACP Group.
“The question of ACP Group’s existence beyond 2020 is an issue that we should openly discuss and today’s anniversary should allow us some leeway for reflection. It is no secret that the answer to this question rests with the Group,” the Secretary-General, said. He added that: “It is my firm personal belief that we have the inner strength and will power to readjust ourselves today so that we are better positioned to meet the demands of tomorrow.”
The ACP Group’s association with the European Union goes right back to the Treaty of Rome, starting with the First Association Convention in 1957. This was succeeded over the following decades by the Yaoundé and Lome Conventions and the present Cotonou Agreement.
Meanwhile, Dr. Chambas was upbeat on the Group’s role in global economy. “It is my belief that ACP states can emerge as strong actors in the global economy if our development partnership with the EU seriously embraces a unified coherent and coordinated approach to development,” he told the symposium.
He stressed that for some time now, the ACP and EU have been working together to find the best possible ways to move the development agenda forward in the context of the partnership. “While there have been successes in certain areas, some key ones appear to be in a ‘state of inertia.’ The Economic Partnership Agreements is perhaps the main one,” he noted.
On his first ACP Day celebration, Dr. Chambas, who took office in March, reminded the Group that: “We must not forget the principal objectives for our existence, as stipulated in the Georgetown Agreement, and they are the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and the smooth and gradual integration of ACP States into the global economy.”
He said that while some ACP states have had some successes, not all have been able to achieve these noble goals. “As a Group, we need to think critically about our efforts and ways in which we can perform and advance our cause,” he said.
The symposium which had the theme of Regional Integration and Good Governance was attended by ACP diplomats and invited guests in Brussels. One of the speakers is Louis Michel, who is a Belgian Member of the European Parliament. He was a former European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid. He is the current co-chair of the Joint ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly. The other is Mr. Abdoulie Janneh who is presently a UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Commission for Africa (UNECA). Some ACP countries and regional organizations also took advantage of the opportunity to display their products.