Pacific A.C.P. states cautioned
The Pacific ACP (PACP) states are preparing to enter negotiations talks with the European Union (EU) on a Post Cotonou Agreement in Samoa this week.
EU’s chief negotiator, Neven Mimica, is in Samoa to meet with Pacific officials and leaders.
But there is an increasing concern by Pacific civil society organisations that the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states (ACP) are under-prepared to strategically negotiate with the EU, and will likely accommodate the EU’s negotiating position.
The current Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) expires in 2020 and the EU and its African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) partners have begun preparations towards a successor to the CPA.
The ACP Council adopted a negotiating mandate on 31st of May 2018 and the EU Council adopted the EU negotiating directives on 22nd of June 2018.
The two Chief Negotiators launched negotiations on 28th of September 2018 in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting in New York.
First rounds of technical negotiations between the European Commission and the ACP began in Brussels on 18th of October, and 5th of December 2018 to agree on practical modalities, structure and strategic priorities.
Concern remains around timing and Pacific ACP states will require adequate time to study the EU’s proposals; understand their intent; develop appropriate responses that are not EU-centric and that protect the integrity of the region and the right of Pacific Island states to develop at their own pace, and negotiate on their own terms.
The Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG), PIANGO Pacific 2030 and collective (DAWN, Diva, FCOSS, Oxfam Regional, PYC), argue that without due process and a thorough and inclusive regional and national consultative framework, it will be contrary to the spirit of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA), which involved wide participation of both states and non-state actors (NSAs). It is also potentially dangerous as well as counter-productive as it could ultimately deny the region prospects for sustainable and equitable development.
Pacific CSOs are currently in Apia, Samoa to caution PACP officials against a rush to complete negotiations for a binding treaty that is extensive in its coverage.
Due process for national consultations including with parliamentarians, local councils, media, academia, trade unions, indigenous peoples and local communities, civil society actors and private sector, will be required to guide negotiators.