Representatives from African and European civil society organisations meet in Brussels

Representatives from 32 African and 36 European civil society organisations (CSO) met at the Second Africa-EU Civil Society Forum in Brussels on 23-25 October.
 
The aim of the meeting was to develop ideas for reforming the JAES (Joint Africa-EU Strategy) in the perspective of the upcoming Summit of Heads of State of 2014.
 
The meeting was opened and closed by high-ranking EU and AU officials. Concord was part of the European delegation: Karine Sohet (Aprodev) and Gérard Karlshausen (CNCD/Belgian Platform) as member of the European JAES steering committee represented the whole confederation but several platforms and networks took part in the meeting: Spain, France, Portugal, UK, Finland, Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, UK, ActionAid, Oxfam International, Worldvision, CBM, IPPF and others.
 
Participants deliberated proposals of the EU and AU Commissions on reforming the JAES thematic priorities, institutional mechanisms and funding instruments. They also proceeded to evaluate past experiences and future opportunities in the framework of the JAES.
 
After assessing progress and challenges in the JAES partnership so far, the participants observed with particular concern that the current reform proposals limit the potential for CSO participation. They underscored the importance of a people-centred and multi-stakeholder partnership as defined at the launch of the JAES in 2007. Participants agreed that clear links should exist between the role of JAES and current major international frameworks such as Post 2015 Development Agenda in order to ensure the ongoing relevance of the strategy.
 
With these concerns in mind, the participants proceeded to make recommendations to the JAES partnership, focusing on greater civil society involvement in all areas. These include thematic areas of: migration; food security, climate change and agriculture; socio-economic inequalities; political participation, human rights and transparency; peace, security and governance; trade, regional integration and investments. Gender, youth and natural resources management were considered as cross-cutting themes. Recognising that gender equality is a prominent objective for both Unions, gender specific recommendations were issued in each working groups. They also made recommendations on structural reforms and proposals for funding these reforms (details are in the Declaration to be release in a few days).
 
The participants are confident that all the stakeholders in the JAES will take these recommendations into due consideration in the context of the Africa-EU Summit in 2014 and the subsequent action plan. In pursuance of these recommendations, the participants resolved to work closely with all stakeholders in the preparations towards the Summit.
 
On behalf of the JAES-CSO Joint Steering Group (Africa and EU):
Joseph CHILENGI and Gerard KARLSHAUSEN
 
For more information: Gérard Karlshausen (gerard.karlshausen@cncd.be) or Karine Sohet (K.Sohet@aprodev.net)
 
READ the Declarations in French and English below