On 24th March 2017, ACP Secretary General (SG) Mr. Patrick I. Gomes spoke to College of Europe students about “making ACP-EU relations fit for purpose beyond 2020: obstacles and opportunities”
First of all, Mr. Gomes remarked that one of the principal objectives of the Cotonou Agreement – which has already been revised in 2005 and 2010, and which will expire in 2020 – is to reduce poverty, but the majority of the Least Developed Countries in the world are still ACP countries. He predicted that the negotiations for the new ACP-EU agreement, which will be held in a turbulent and unpredictable context, must pay attention to existing inequalities and try to reach common positions in terms of solidarity in order to be successful. He said that global issues need global responses, using the example of migration, whose root causes must be considered as well as its impact on host societies.
ACP SG Gomes said that the three pillars of the negotiations will be trade, development cooperation, and political dialogue. In terms of trade, ACP countries should foster industrialization in order to become more competitive in the global market. Development cooperation should link technology and resource mobilization to maintain value-creation in ACP countries. Development is not simply giving and receiving aid. Financial resources should be used to engender the economic transformation of a country with the aim of overcoming vulnerability. Finally, political dialogue must be realistic if we want to push good governance forward. This means, among the other things, to tackle common problems without an attitude of moral superiority.
In the opinion of Mr. Gomes, the negotiations should be conducted whilst taking into due consideration the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The first SDG, he pointed out, is to end poverty. But we should not be too prescriptive nor too mechanical, he said. This is the reason why multilateralism is a key factor that EU and ACP counterparts should always respect.
By Emanuele Pallotta
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