AU / EU The Thirteenth meeting of the Joint Africa-EU Task Force (JTF) was held on 19 October 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The opening plenary session was co-chaired on the AU side by Dr. Rene Kouassi, Director of Economic Affairs of the African Union Commission and on the EU side by Amb. Koen Vervaeke, Head of EU Delegation to the African Union. The meeting was also attended by senior officials of the two Commissions and the EEAS, as well as co-chairs of the Joint Expert Groups (JEGs) and representatives of Regional Economic Communities (RECs).
The Co-chairs welcomed the participants and stated that the Africa-EU Partnership remains a solid platform to improve the political and policy dialogue between Africa and the EU, to expand our cooperation into new areas of mutual interest “beyond development”, and to involve actors such as the key implementing partners such as the RECs, EIB, African Development Bank, NPCA, UNECA etc. as well as key stakeholders such as the private sector, parliaments, local authorities and civil society from both sides.
As regards the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, the Co-chairs, while noting that some progress had been achieved, albeit uneven across partnerships, acknowledged that some challenges continue to hamper the pace of implementation and stressed the need for collective action to address them. They emphasised the need to look at the current functioning of the structures and working arrangements, ensure an evaluation of progress made in all partnerships, and to reflect on ways to improve their effectiveness. It was suggested to follow a dual track approach whereby: i) changes would be introduced to the working arrangements of the partnerships; and ii) a longer term strategy would be developed to address structural challenges beyond the Brussels Summit in 2013 so that both Africa and EU can reap the full benefits of this strategic partnership.
In this context, the Co-chairs highlighted the urgency to explore all possible avenues, including existing and new instruments, to support the implementation of the JAES Action Plan and ensure more concrete results.
The plenary discussions focused on possible solutions to the JAES implementation challenges, including:
- The annual planning of JAES related meetings to ensure the participation of all key actors.
- The meeting noted progress in particular in those partnerships which are closely aligned with African institutional architectures. In this respect, it was suggested to linking JEGs, including their functioning and composition, to African political and implementation mechanisms.
- In line with the 2011-2013 JAES Action Plan, the meeting acknowledged the important role that sectoral Ministerial meetings could play in better linking technical discussions with the political decisions.
- The set-up of a technical support mechanism: The plenary discussed the forthcoming establishment of a flexible and demand-driven support mechanism, which will aim at improving the implementation of the JAES Action Plan and contribute to the achievement of concrete results. This Mechanism will provide technical, operational and administrative support to the thematic partnerships as well as cross-cutting issues such as communication and outreach activities including the JAES-website, and improve the follow-up and reporting of the Action Plan. The relatively small JAES-SM will not be able to finance the operational core activities of the Action Plan, but will support the effective functioning of the implementation architecture and the participation of key actors.
- The creation of a Pan-African programme within the framework of the next EU multi-annual financial perspectives 2014-2020: This proposal by the European Commission will be officially submitted to budgetary authorities, i.e. EU Member States and the European Parliament, on December 7th 2011, and will be followed by trilateral negotiations to finalize the post-2014 EU budget. In this context, there was an exchange of views on the African proposal for the creation of an African Integration Facility and its possible implication on existing bilateral cooperation arrangements at national and regional level. The debate on alternative sources of financing in line with the African Union decision at the Malabo Summit was also raised. The meeting noted that some critical issues still need to be further clarified if such a Pan-African programme were to be created. However, some guiding principles can already be retained, notably the need to deliver added-value and results, the cross-regional, continental or inter-continental dimension and the principle of subsidiarity.
- Financing the 2nd Action Plan: In the short run, the financing of the 2nd Action Plan will continue to rely on existing instruments. In this context, the ongoing Mid-Term Review of the Regional Indicative Programmes of the European Development Fund offers a major opportunity. The ongoing review should allow for reinforcing synergies between regional and continental levels of cooperation. All actors involved, notably the RECs, are encouraged to work together to identify activities from the Action Plan, which would be best implemented at regional level, mainly through the Regional Indicative Programmes. The ENPI and EDF Intra-ACP programmes should also take into account of such initiatives. The African side will take up the issue of financing at the coordination meetings with the Regional Economic Communities.
- Communication: The two Commissions also presented the new JAES Communication strategy to the Joint Task Force. The new Communication Strategy should enable better outreach to key stakeholders including African and EU member States, share information and ensure a people-centered partnership as envisaged in the Joint Strategy. Participants were invited to send their comments on the strategy (please see annex) to enrich it.
A bilateral meeting between the AUC and EEAS addressed legal issues, including Universal Jurisdiction, the ICC and the Hissène Habré case.
The next meeting of the Joint Task Force will be taking place in mid-March 2012 in Brussels.
The full report is available here.
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