BRUSSELS, Belgium -- A group of high level advisors led by former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, will hold a series of regional talks in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific to gather views on the future outlooks of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and its relations with the European Union.
Wrapping up their first strategic meeting since launching in March, the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) announced that their first stakeholder meeting will be in Apia, Samoa on 17-18 October.
“The EPG was set up to start looking at what sort of treaty or agreement [could be forged] after the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement comes to an end in 2020. It’s necessary that we start thinking about what should be the successor agreement because over the life of the partnership between ACP and the EU, a lot has changed. Are there common values that we should now look at that should form the basis of a new relationship? The partnership in the past has been mutually beneficial, but how do we strengthen it, what are the things that we have to do differently?” explained EPG chairman Chief Obasanjo.
He said the EPG’s work will compile views from both a variety of both ACP and EU actors, including government officials, members of parliament, civil society, and the private sector.
“There’s a need to integrate the ACP countries within the world economy that requires that our economies become more competitive. We have to increase productivity, to improve human resource skills, quality of education, access to technologies. These are all different topics that we didn’t have in our agenda 10, 20 years ago… I think there is a need refocus on development issues and partner in the way that can be of mutual benefit,” stated vice chair of the group, former president of the Dominican Republic Leonel Fernandes.
The 12-member EPG was created to help guide the ACP Group in repositioning itself as a more robust and effective global player as it approaches the post-2015 development era. The final review of the Cotonou Agreement is also due in 2015, before its expiry in 2020.
“The ACP is today the largest trans-regional intergovernmental grouping in the world with 79 member countries. With this figure comprising the overwhelming number of least developed countries, land-locked and small island developing states, we have the unique opportunity to contribute, together, valuable and constructive inputs on the global development agenda. ACP countries need to leverage their potential as a group and cooperate further in this regard,” added ACP Secretary General Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni.
Following the Pacific region, the EPG consultations are scheduled for the Caribbean in Grenada on 1-2 November, before continuing to the four major African regions (Eastern, Western, Central, Southern) next year. The EPG will submit a final report to ACP heads of state and government in December 2014.