Time for a fairer deal for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. A roundup of CONCORD’s activities at the JPA.

Photo: ACP-EU parliamentarians: photo credit ACP-EU Secretariat/European Parliament.
The 25th Session of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly, which gathers 78 Members of the European Parliament and parliamentarians of 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to discuss EU-ACP cooperation, was officially launched on Monday, 17 June at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Civil society organisations are able to express their positions at the event, as outlined in the Cotonou Agreement – the legal basis for EU-ACP relations since 2000.
Panel discussions
CONCORD organized an interactive panel discussion on the plenary day on 17 June, as part of the activities of our Cotonou Working Group.
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More than 80 participants participated in CONCORD’s event, with the panel including partners from Benin and Ghana.
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Photo: Full house at the CONCORD panel.
The event was a good opportunity for CONCORD to meet with civil society partners from across the world.
 
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Photo: CONCORD Board Member Lars Bosselmann meeting with civil society partners.
Briefing papers
 
CONCORD prepared a series of specific briefing papers on EU-ACP cooperation for parliamentarians, highlighting the need for more participative programming of the 11th European Development Fund that would take into account people’s needs while respecting the sovereignty of ACP states.
The should take a governance focus where participation, transparency and accountability are the leading principles of the design and implementation of aid, serving the realization of Human Rights.
For example when considerting agriculture, this means supporting small-scale family farming,  enabling ACP countries to move from a food security approach which keeps them dependent on imports, towards food sovereignty where each country is free to choose its own production and consumption pattern achieving the right to food.
A Cotonou Agreement for citizens rights
The Cotonou Agreement guarantees the central place of ACP states and of their citizens in defining and implementing their development objectives. However, citizens’ rights should not be forgotten as soon as we leave the framework of the EDF (the financial part of this international agreement) to discuss the terms of EU-ACP trade.
Unfair Economic Partnership Agreements
 
The current negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements tend to unfair deals under which the rights of ACP citizens remain flouted. Instead of imposing unfair conditions while generously providing an aid which is not under the control of the first concerned, the European Union has to adopt a more flexible approach that reflects its commitment to supporting people in their fight for dignity.
The same goes for the mainstreaming of the Agenda for Change logics in EU-ACP relationships, which tends to overlook the legally binding Cotonou Agreement. The graduation of aid envisaged by the EU in this new political framework should not be based on the traditional macroeconomic indicators such as GDP, which have proven to not be synonyms for development.
The role of Civil Society Organisations is fully recognized by the EU and enshrined in the Cotonou Agreement.
So it’s time institutions listened to their voice, just for once.