ACP YPN at the European Council post-Cotonou session on Civil Society

On the 28th March 2017, Celine Fabrequette, ACP YPN Programme Manager on EU Relations and SDG5 Expert, spoke on behalf of ACP YPN at a Post-Cotonou discussion with Civil Society organized by the Maltese Council presidency for the ACP Working Party at the European Council. The panel included Geert Laporte, deputy director of the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM); Lore van Den Putte, associated researcher at the Centre for EU studies at Ghent University; Brenda King, member of the European Economic & Social Committee (EESC) and Ariane Lignier, representative of the European Confederation of Relief and Development NGOs (CONCORD).

The context of the discussion concerns a series of topics already treated in all their elements with the ACP Workers party. The idea is to facilitate exchanges between member states. The objective is to prepare the ground for recommendations on the role of civil society.

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The ACP YPN consultation was released just two weeks ago and so far a total of 55 responses from ACP Youth from 12 ACP countries have been recorded. The consultation will last three months and we shall deliver further results in time for the European Development Days in June. Celine gave the 6 Key preliminary results of ACP YPN’s second consultation on the EU-ACP post-Cotonou Partnership agreements:

  1. Results show a lack of understanding, purpose, and links with youth and knowledge of the EU-ACP Cotonou Agreement. To reverse this, youth representatives must be included as much as possible in the negotiation process, but also now, in the implementation and review process.
  2. Countries where free Education has been put in place show a reduction of illiteracy. Development of exchange programs like Erasmus, and recognition of diplomas between ACP and EU countries, as well as within the ACP countries themselves, will go a long way and act as an important tool to promote exchanges between young people in ACP and EU, for example, why not establish a College of Europe ACP scholarship? With a focus on the new digital economy opportunity to leverage the experience and partnership.
  3. Introduction or reinforcement of the legal framework of Children’s Rights have helped to reduce Violence Against Women (VAW) & Girls. Youth responding in the questionnaire felt like the establishment of legal framework is important as it allows them to be able to reinforce, and be provided better protection of, their rights.
  4. Many examples of national Youth funds were given: the National Empowerment Program in Rwanda; the innovation hub in Botswana; or the Uwezo fund in Kenya, which enables people with disabilities, youth, and women to have access to finance. This shows awareness as well as a higher rate of opportunities and actions put in place by ACP countries; however better communication needs to be put forward so that those new funds or programmes are known to all.
  5. Requests were made for more national data collection on skills shortages in order to help develop and upscale opportunities for sustainable solutions to youth unemployment.
  6. Need for better implementation mechanisms and more youth involvement in the development and implementation of programs – particularly to strengthen accountability and transparency – were frequently mentioned.

Brenda King pointed out that, taking into account the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda, the new agreement is an opportunity to continue to change the global context. This coincides with Geert Laporte’s explanation that a position of monopoly does not lead toward development, but differs in his backing of a Multi-actor type of partnership. He recommended that the EU fund and support innovative initiatives – particularly those of African youth. This was seconded by Ariane Lignier who added that the new agreement should include more opportunities for youth, and that dialogue should be enacted on a regular basis.

As did ACP YPN, all panellists stressed the importance of a regular dialogue with not only the big civil societies but also the local civil societies, suggesting more involvement by the EU delegations. Celine’ concluded by reaffirming that ACP YPN will to continue to engage not only with ACP & EU representatives but also with other Civil Society Organisations in order to consolidate positions and point of convergence.

Here’s the link to ACP YPN consultation – Click to give us your input!

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