On 27th September 2018, the European Youth Event’s (EYE) Report was published including a key recommendation from ACP YPN delegate Rhody-Ann Thorpe. The EYE report features 100 ideas discussed at the EYE, where ACP YPN led their second delegation and hosted an event on ‘Youth and Trade’ at the European Parliament (June 2018, see here). Rhody-Ann Thorpe’s recommendation called for: relaxed visa policies for ACP member states, especially in the Caribbean space – something she says can also foster a more « EUnified » ACP.
Rhody-Ann Thorpe (center) at the European Youth Event held at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in June 2018. [Photo credit: ACP YPN]
Rhody-Ann put forward the recommendation that relaxed visa policies would encourage greater mobility for nationals of ACP countries and would ultimately grant them access to educational and professional opportunities in countries of the EU. More specifically regarding the Caribbean, relaxed visa policies would foster a greater sense of cohesion in the region as it would demolish the barriers that visa restrictions have erected between CARICOM countries and the European overseas departments and territories. It ultimately will provide an avenue for further exchanges, including the establishment of new airline routes between Europe and the Caribbean and which facilitate intra-regional travel. Were visa policies relaxed for ACP countries, it would also influence secondary and higher education policies to put an even greater emphasis on foreign language acquisition, an asset which is indispensable for the personal and professional development of today’s youth.
Rhody underlined that in the present ACP-EU ‘Cotonou’ Partnership Agreement, ACP and EU member states jointly declare their commitment to strengthening and deepening their dialogue and cooperation with regards to legal migration including admission, mobility and movement of skills and services. However, while EU nationals can travel to all ACP countries without a visa, only five (5) Caribbean states are presently privy to short stay visa-waiver agreements with the EU. This therefore not only hinders inter EU-ACP mobility but also regional integration in the Caribbean where French and Dutch overseas departments and territories share a common space.
In conclusion, given the forthcoming post-Cotonou negotiations, the post-Cotonou provisions on migration and visa regulations must be equitable in order to reflect a partnership between equally sovereign states.
Rhody-Ann Thorpe Representing ACP YPN
Background on mobility & the ACP-EU Partnership:
The ACP group and EU enjoy a partnership founded upon three pillars: development cooperation, political cooperation, and economic and trade cooperation. The 20-year partnership came into effect in 2000 and has since been revised to include provisions on climate change, regional integration among other challenges. As this agreement comes to term in the very near future and in light of the negotiations to be had on a Post-Cotonou framework, it is imperative to return to the certain aspects of the current agreement which need to be address, such as the lack of reciprocity with regards to visa regulations.
By Rhody Ann Thorpe – Get in touch with Rhody-Ann via LinkedIn
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