ACP YPN at PACO conference on Parliaments in EU Diplomacy

On 31st August, Yentyl Williams, Researcher at the Centre of EU Studies (CEUS), Ghent University and ACP YPN President & Founder, presented her work on the EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) at the Jean Monnet Network PACO’s final conference on ‘Parliaments in EU Diplomacy and External Action – Control Cooperation and Contestation’ at the University Foundation, Brussels.

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Yentyl presented her paper, co-written with Dr. Sarah Delputte, entitled, ‘Equal partnership between unequal regions? Assessing deliberative parliamentary diplomacy in ACP-EU relations’ on the fourth panel of the conference, on ‘Parliamentary Scrutiny and diplomacy in the area of trade policy and regional cooperation’ alongside esteemed experts: Prof. Dr. Seiglinde Gstohl (College of Europe, Bruges), Prof. Dr. Dirk de Bièvre (University of Antwerp), Tomas Baert (Head of Trade Strategy, DG Trade, European Commission) and Dr. Xavier Nuttin (European Parliament).

Yentyl explained that while there might be a considerable amount of literature on EU-ACP relations, the JPA has been somewhat of a forgotten institution in the partnership. This is surprising for two reasons: (i) the JPA is the oldest and most institutionalised parliamentary assembly between the countries of the global North and South. Indeed, it was a model for similar North-South parliamentary assemblies, such as the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) and the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EUROLAT); and (ii) the parliamentary dimension has grown in importance both within and beyond the EU-ACP framework with each revision of Cotonou.

Yentyl explained that the paper develops an analytical framework to assess the quality of deliberation on the subject of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) at the ACP-EU JPA based on five areas (see below). However, the results showed that JPA dialogue on EPAs struggles to approach the ideal type of deliberation, even if there is overwhelming consensus on EPAs at the JPA. For example, there were a number of recurrent critical issues: (i) participation of EU MEPs in political parties versus ACP country representatives; (ii) ACP bloc voting blurring the substantial openness; (iii) narrow interests pervert the common good; (iv) the JPA split vote threats constructive politics, or (v) rules of procedure reinforces difference as opposed to neutralising it – which lowers the quality deliberation at the JPA.

In summary, Yentyl underlined that the findings of the paper would serve as useful points and recommendations for EU and ACP negotiators as they approach the revision of the EU-ACP partnership in a post-Cotonou era.

What is the Jena Monnet Network PACO? The Jean Monnet Network ‘Interparliamentary Cooperation in the EU’s external action – Parliamentary Scrutiny and Diplomacy in the EU and beyond’ (PACO) brings together three inter-related teaching and research areas: EU external relations, inter-parliamentary cooperation and parliamentary diplomacy. PACO aims to discover and explain if and why inter-parliamentary cooperation in the field of external relations has contributed towards increased scrutiny by the EP and national parliaments; (ii) PACO aims to discover and explain if and why parliamentary diplomacy can add to the diplomatic tool set in the EU’s cooperation with third partners via its own delegations at the bilateral and multilateral levels (i.e. countries, regional blocs like the ACP or regional organizations like the African Union); (iii) PACO aims to contribute to a new understanding of the role of European parliaments (EP, national parliaments) in EU external action.

See the Virtual Maps of Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation (VIPCO) here.

See the VIPCO factsheet for the ACP-EU JPA here.

See the official pictures here.

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