Executive summary

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ACP/28/012/06 Brussels, 13 February 2006


Study on the

Future of the ACP Group


Compiled by:

Babrius cc

PO Box 315

Muizenberg 7945

South Africa

Tel: ++27 21 788 7069

Fax: ++27 21 788 5616

e-mail: babrius2@mweb.co.za

The contents and opinions expressed in this Study are those of the consultants and, as such do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the ACP Secretariat.
The ACP Secretariat does not guarantee the accuracy of data included in this Study, and accepts no responsibility whatsoever for any consequences of their use



  1. INDEX 3


  3. Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION 23

  4. Chapter 2: HISTORICAL OVERVIEW 26


  1. A new world order : A wholly new global context

The ACP Group : a paradigm shift 36

  1. Core Business: The European Union 38

  2. European Union budgetisation of the EDF 41

  3. Enlargement of the EU 43

  4. Economic Partnership Agreements 45

  5. Non-state Actors 48

  6. Forum in terms of the Santo Domingo Declaration 49

  7. Migration from the ACP States to the EU 50

  8. Compatibility with WTO Rules 50

  9. Preferential & non-reciprocal trade access 51

  10. EU Common Agricultural Policy Subsidies 54

  11. Rules of Origin 54

  12. Reduced Customs Revenue 55


  1. Intra-ACP relations & cohesion : Introduction 57

  2. Uniqueness of the ACP Group 58

  3. Caucusing between representatives in capital

Cities & at conferences 58

  1. Sectoral meetings 59

  2. Underutilisation of the CDE & the CTA:

Organs of the ACP Group 59

  1. Mutual help between NAOs & RAOs 60

  2. Deploying the help of Parliamentarians 60

  3. Intra-ACP Trade negligible 61

  4. Intra-ACP Tourism as a unifier 62

  5. Tropics as a unifier 63

  6. Tropical Products value added 63

  7. Communications 63

  8. Commitment by attendance at meetings & summits 63



  1. ACP Relations with other International bodies

& other countries 65

  1. Priority to be given to ACP Group as a vehicle

to promote interests of members 66



Introduction 69

  1. President in office 70

  2. Change in name of the ACP Group 70

  3. International Organisations 71

  4. The Secretary General 72

  5. The Council of Ministers & the Committee of

Ambassadors 74

  1. The principle of rotation 75

  2. The principle of consensus 76

  3. Political dimension & responsibility 77

  4. Financial capacity of the Secretariat 77

  5. The Organigram: staggering appointments 78





  1. Table 1: Africa’s Trade as a % of World Trade 12

  2. Table 2: Yaounde I Convention Member States 26

  3. Table 3: List of ACP Countries Signatories to Lomé & Cotonou

Agreements 27

  1. Table 4: Membership of the European Union Indicating Accession

Dates 29

  1. Table 5: Differences Between Lomé & Cotonou Agreements 31

  2. Table 6: ACP Countries by Region Showing Least Developed

Countries 33

  1. Table 7: Indication of ACP Countries’ GDP (2002), per capita %

Growth 34

  1. Table 8: Consequences of Enlarged EU for Development Policy 44

  2. Table 9: Net ODA Disbursement from EC Budgets and Payments

Into the EDF 45

  1. Table 10: ACP Trade Statistics 51

  2. Table 11: ACP National Indicative programmes 53

  3. Table 12: Trade Tax as a Share of Total Revenue 56

  4. Table 13: The Santo Domingo Declaration and Plan of Action 57

  5. Table 14: Africa’s Exports by Destination 62

  6. Table 15: ACP Group Relations with EU, Non-EU States /

Organisations / Groups 65

  1. Table 16: Chain of Command per Georgetown Agreement 69

  2. Table 17: Revision of the Role of the President in Office 70

  3. Table 18: Change in the Name of the ACP Group 71

  4. Table 19: Secretary General’s Powers Prescribed by the Georgetown

Agreement 73

  1. Table 20: Revision of the Executive Powers of the Secretary General 74

  2. Table 21: Revision of the Stipulations Regarding Rotation 76

  3. Table 22: Revision of Voting Rules 77


  1. Annex ‘A’ Terms of Reference 93

  2. Annex ‘B’ Bibliography 94

  3. Annex ‘C’ UN Millennium Development Goals 101

  4. Annex ‘D’ EBA Summary 102

  5. Annex ‘E’ Enlarged Europe – consequences for ACP 103

  6. Annex ‘F’ Preamble to Georgetown Agreement 106

  7. Annex ‘G’ San Domingo Plan of Action – summary 107

  8. Annex ‘H’ EIB summary 108

  9. Annex ‘I’ WIPO & ACP 109

  10. Annex ‘J’ FAO & ACP 110

  11. Annex ‘K’ Gini Curve definition & explanation 111

  12. Annex ‘L’ Contact List 112

  13. Annex ‘M’ Countries Grid - competing organisation memberships 120

  14. Annex ‘N’ Africa – competing customs unions 122

AAMS Associated African & Malagasy States

ACP Africa Caribbean and Pacific Group of States

AidCo Europe Aid Co-operation Office

APEC Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation

ASEAN Association of Southeastern Asian Nations

AU African Union

CARICOM Caribbean Community

CARIFORUM Caribbean Forum

CDE Centre for the Development of Enterprise

CEMAC Communauté Économique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale

CSP Country Support Paper

CSS Country Support Strategy

CTA Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development

DCEC Instrument Issues paper for MEPs & Council on the Draft Regulation

establishing a Financial Instrument for Development

Cooperation & Economic Cooperation

EAC East African Community

ECOWAS Economic Community of West African States

EC European Commission

EBA Everything But Arms

EDF European Development Fund

EEC European Economic Community

EIB European Investment Bank

EPA Economic Partnership Agreement

EU European Union

FAO Food & Agriculture Organisation

FLEX Support for export fluctuations losses

FTAA Free Trade Area of the Americas

FTI Education for All Fast Track Initiative

GATS General Agreement on Trade in Services

GATT General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs

GDP Gross Domestic Product

GNI Gross National Income

HIPCs Highly Indebted Poor Countries

IBSA Group India, Brazil, South Africa Group

ILO International Labour Organisation

JAR Joint Annual Report

JITAP Joint Integrated Technical Assistance Programme

JPA Joint Parliamentary Assembly

LDCs Least Developed Countries

LLDCs Landlocked Least Developed Countries

MEBF Mercosur-Europe Business Forum

MEP Member of the European Parliament

MERCOSUR Mercado Commun del Sur

(“Common Market of the South” - S. America)

MDGs Millennium Development Goals

MTR Mid-term Review

NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement

NAM Non-Aligned Movement

NAO National Authorising Officer

NIP National Indicative Programme

NMS New Member States

OAU Organisation of African Unity

ODA Official Development Aid

PMU Project Management Unit

RAO Regional Authorising Officer

RSS Regional Support Strategy

RIOs Regional Integration Organisations

SPS Sanitary and Phytosanitary Regulations

SADC Southern African Development Community

STABEX Stabilisation of exchange losses

SYSMIN Support for rehabilitation of mining industry

SWOT Analysis Analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

TDCA Agreement on Trade, Development & Co-operation (SA-EU)

TRIPS Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights

UNCTAD UN Conference on Trade & Development

UMEOA West African Economic & Monetary Union

UNESCO United Nations Economic & Social Council

VAT Value Added Tax

WHO World Health Organisation

WIPO World Intellectual Property Organisation

WTO World Trade Organisation

  1. This study on the future of the ACP Group was conducted, at the behest of the Secretariat of the ACP Group, by Babrius cc, an entirely independent consultancy specialising in African economic and technological development. Two members of the consultancy carried out the research and investigation necessary to make an informed ACTION PLAN for the purpose of consideration and debate by the Committee of Ambassadors at a round-table discussion.

  2. The main research was done by Adv Glenn Babb and Ms Tracey Babb who have experience in diplomacy, development, investment, legal drafting and banking.

  3. To write this Study, the consultants had wide-ranging discussions with as many role-players as time would permit. The list of the greater number of those who gave their time and offered their expertise is to be found in Annex “L”.

  4. Particular thanks are due to the Secretariat of the ACP Group and its staff who provided documentation, support for both travel and appointments and for research. They were unstinting in their helpfulness and in their genuine eagerness to see the Study reach a fruitful conclusion. Without diminishing the role of others in the senior echelons of the Secretariat, the writers would like to thank Mr Andrew Bradley who has stood fast in his role of facilitator and is the author himself of a dissertation on the competing roles of international organisations with the bailiwick of the ACP Group.

  5. The consultants visited as many regional organisations as possible including SADC, CARICOM and ECOWAS and had discussions with some of those involved with the EAC and CEMAC/UMEOA.

  6. Due to time and financial constraints, the writers could not visit the Pacific Region, but numerous interviews were conducted with Brussels-based Pacific Ambassadors. With the help of the Secretariat, the writers also consulted a representative number of Brussels-based Ambassadors from every one of the Six Regions of the ACP Group.

  7. Countries visited for the study are:

    • Botswana

    • Republic of Congo

    • Democratic Republic of Congo

    • Ethiopia

    • Guyana

    • Jamaica

    • Kenya

    • Nigeria

    • South Africa

  8. In the Study, to facilitate flow and to avoid encumbrances, the writers have eschewed as far as possible the use of footnotes, though the Bibliography contains the major source material: however, the most valuable information and opinions came from the large number of people interviewed and debate that ensued showing that there is latent vigorous life underlying the critical mass that inheres in the world’s largest development organisation and a desire to improve its image and performance.

  9. The Study provides the basis for round-table discussions and debate on the ACTION PLAN at the end of the Study. The PLAN makes proposals of a radical nature that can help the ACP reinvent itself to face the quantum shift that events have shown in its sphere of activity.

The lead-up to this Study has been long according to all the sources the compilers of this Study consulted: on the one hand, Members and those well-disposed to the ACP Group have agonised about making the ACP Group more relevant, about the threats it faces and about its losing ground to other international organisations, while some predict its demise.
The imminent, short-term and medium terms threats and dangers to which the ACP Group as a coherent body is exposed and which are addressed together with others in this Study, have been identified by those consulted and by the literature as the following:

  • budgetisation of the European Development Fund to make it a decentralising force – specifically: the declared EU motive of promoting regional integration ACP Africa-North Africa, ACP Caribbean-Latin America and ACP Pacific-Asia in the budgeting process1; weakening the Cotonou co-management in the reallocation of funds from one budget item to another; threatening the multi-annuality and predictability of EDF disbursements offering instead “flexibility” based on reallocation from “under-performing” States;

  • the new form of partnership of independent Economic Partnership Agreements with separate regions;

  • increased export to ACP States of subsidised products from an enlarged agriculturally-based EU.

and threats coming from:

  • ACP Members’ governments using other international organisations as vehicles to defend their interests rather than the ACP Group;

  • ACP failure to caucus together for joint action at conferences and international organisations;

  • institutional leadership role not being assigned to take initiatives and carry out mandates from the Summits and the lack of powers for Chief Executive Officer;

  • institutional conservatism combined with slow decision-making in committees;

  • small capacity both financial and personnel-wise in the Secretariat;

  • losing the dynamism of the critical mass and strength of the only and unique development organisation by not urgently making alliances with other countries and underutilising acquired positions of Observer Status at the UN and other bodies;

  • poor commitment to Summits and Council of Ministers’ meetings and to political participation at the Joint Parliamentary Assembly;

  • a credibility gap by slow reaction to international events and dilatoriness in dealing with breaches by own Member States and a lack of visibility resulting from this; the vagueness of the name of the ACP Group contributes to this;

  • a lack of intense intra-ACP activity to promote solidarity in trade, agriculture, common marketing, tourism and a myriad of other spheres of co-operation;

  • a lack of ACP Group joint activity in other capitals and no caucusing in other States.

which are analysed also as potential weaknesses in the SWOT analysis at the end of this Study.

The origins of the ACP Group almost half a century ago and in its formalised state of three decades, wrapped the ACP Group in the cocoon of an agent for development. After Lomé IV it acquired a strongly political potential and with the Cotonou Partnership Agreement it is now conceived as an international organisation with developmental, political and economic pillars on which it stands. And yet, the well-wishers feel, the ACP Group is still affected by the original developmental restraint at a time when it can use the political and economic wings it has earned and acquired.
There can be no doubt of the usefulness of the ACP Group to the European Union: it is a two-way street although it is not always seen that way. The ACP Group serves the interests of the EU in several not inconsiderable ways and this should be noted at the outset:

  • the ACP Group provides an effective organisational structure for the EU’s provision of development aid in terms of EU policy;

  • provides a stable environment for debate on policy in economic relations and development;

  • in practical terms, it is a partner in regulating sources of commodities and trade;

  • is an ally in international forums and a cultural link into three major regions of the world;

  • acts as a communication and information channel ;

  • is a partner for planning and provides personnel to carry out programmes and co-manages development, and

  • represents a substantive number of countries with whom the EU can negotiate.

There are some voices raised (but few from among the Members themselves) who feel more sanguinely that the ACP Group has served its usefulness, that development funding from the EU can be generalised or globalised and the political and economic roles of the ACP Group can just as well be played by other international organisations and groupings.

The thrust of this Study is to show that the hard-earned strengths of the ACP Group and the opportunities it is offered far outweigh the weaknesses it displays and are sturdy enough to withstand the challenges of globalisation.
The ACP Group urgently wishes to make the quantum leap necessary to confront the new world it operates in: the boldness of its decisions as to how it reinvents itself will match the challenges of this unique body, or the largest North-South organised international development body will miss its rendezvous with history at this vital stage when much is expected of it.
In order to fulfil this mandate, the ACP Secretariat has engaged the services of Babrius cc to carry out a Study whose objectives are each covered in a chapter; the final chapter relates to the institutional changes required to streamline the organisation to meet the global paradigm shift the ACP Group is facing. These institutional changes go to making the ACP Group effective in dealing with its core business, expanding its relationship base internationally, seeking greater funding, making it politically relevant, using its critical mass and co-operating internally.
The realisation that the ACP Group, although comprising the greatest number of Least Developed Countries, land-locked states and small islands has wider impact because of, and not in spite of, this Membership, as proved by the united action of the ACP Group at the 4th Doha Ministerial meeting, provides a platform for debate at a round-table of the main client for this Study, the Committee of Ambassadors. The assertion of the ACP Group’s political, economic and development relevance has already come from the Heads of State and Government. The Committee of Ambassadors will make the choice of the options available.
The ACP Group’s existence is guaranteed by the prolongation of the Lomé Conventions into the now-revised Cotonou Partnership Agreement. This renewed Agreement, in itself, brings with it an overtly political and economic role to the ACP Group.

  • It is political since the political orientation of the agreement is a prerequisite for the distribution of the benefits of the development funding through the European Development Fund and the Financial support in Annex IV of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.

  • It is economic because the economic partnerships are defined as platforms for development.

The new political and economic roles of the ACP Group, which were presaged by Lomé IV, represent a major change in orientation that requires swift and adequate attention to the responsibilities undertaken by the Member States. These differences are illustrated in Table 5 below.

Parallel with this, the European Commissioners for Trade and for Development have shifted their policies to:

    • budget support instead of project aid to give recipient nations “ownership” of the development and to giving the EC a larger room for manoeuvre in using European Development Fund resources for programmes in health (through the World Health Organisation), water and the African Peace Initiative (through the African Union): although its consent has been given, the ACP Group loses its “partnership” status in the disbursement of funds earmarked for it;

    • regional trade agreements (Economic Partnership Agreements) and delegation of authority for development to the EU Delegations in countries and regions of the ACP Group with the philosophy that trade engenders development and the development of the EU is the prime example of this;

    • harmonising EU trade policy with the World Trade Organisation’s rules on preferential trade arrangements by adjusting trade agreements and commodity protocols accordingly, which also demand that 90%+ of trade be free.

The threat of these tumultuous occurrences is identified by the Heads of States and Governments who clearly see that the ACP has to reinvent itself in the same way that the OAU became the AU and the Commonwealth went through deep reforming processes. This Study is commissioned to give form to the responses and formulate the how and when. The rapidity and the extent of the response are given pro-actively and in the form of an ACTION PLAN and defined Recommendations provided at the end of this Study.


This Study sets the stage by an examination of the institutional memory of the ACP Group which shortly covers the genesis of the ACP Group through five generations of conventions and agreements with the European Community and then European Union, the increasing size and orientation of the ACP Group and the successful accession of Anglophone and Lusophone Members, and traces the funding of development through the European Development Fund and the European Investment Bank. The important differences between the last two Agreements (Lomé Convention and the Cotonou Partnership Agreement) are clearly illustrated in Table 5. The Historical Overview provides Tables (2-5) on the membership of the EU and the ACP Group and briefly sets out:

    • the new European and global context in which the ACP Group operates and plans, especially as a political player

    • the cohesion of the ACP Group and how this can act for the benefit of its members and what actions can be in its interests, how the diversity across wide parts of the globe are a strength and a window into intra-ACP dynamism and to new forms of cultural alliance with India and Europe, but also

    • in Tables 6 and 7, how the development aid provided so far has failed significantly to alleviate poverty, which is the main purpose of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement

    • how the ACP Group houses the greatest number of Least Developed Countries in the world (all of those in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific).

The Historical Overview also presages the plans which the ACP Group can put afoot to play a global development role and use the not insignificant muscle represented by its numbers and organisational potential (see the Recommendations and ACTION PLAN at the end of the Study).

Chapter 3 recognises the new challenges of the ACP Group’s relations with its major partner, the European Union, and its developmental, political and economic dimensions as defined in the Cotonou Partnership Agreement:

  • Firstly the political role: EU politicians and MEPs ill-perceive the non-absorption of funds granted under the European Development Fund – this is a danger to future disbursements even though the process has improved vastly but requires a political input from the ACP Group. Although the EuropAid is firm about its rules, a re-examination of EC rules and procedures for the long-term envelope of the European Development Fund, the ACP Group has a central role to play. Besides better co-operation between the regional and national authorising officers amongst each other and help being lent by officers to each other across frontiers other steps are needed. Constant analysis is recommended of feedback to the Development Finance Committee and ACP Secretariat from the EC at Mid-Term review, as occurred in November 2004 to improve efficient application of funding.

  • A political assault is required because of a deeper anxiety, namely why has development aid so far led to so little alleviation of poverty? Where is the fault line that prevents greater enrichment? Is managed trade which persisted under Lomé to give way to an ideologised free trade regime without any protection? Must one system having failed to bring growth, be ripped up and a new guinea pig test be launched? 2 The political question needs to be addressed to the Commissioner Trade because trade might be now seen as a kind of panacea: Look at Table 1:

TABLE 1 : AFRICA’S TRADE AS A % OF WORLD TRADE Adapted from World Trade Organisation statistics

Just to take Africa’s position in world trade, we can see that it is small and dropping. The political question needs to be posed by the leaders of the biggest development organisation in the world, the ACP Group, whether in fact the new global scheme of things will ameliorate the trade and development relationship and this question needs to be posed directly to the Commissioner for Development. The thesis that trade leads to development requires further proof, especially where the countries on whom the thesis is being experimented have not the marketing, standardisation, transformation and transport capacity of their partners, and moreover start from a tiny base. The argument is put forward that the ACP Group is to be brought into the mainstream of world trade – this begs the question: are the Members not already in the mainstream but hamstrung in competing because of the distortions the developed world has created? Moreover, do these distortions make the ACP Group easy targets for the artificially cheap products which outstrip their own. This is a political question asked at Doha, but essential to repeat. This Study repeatedly recommends the political hierarchy ask the question why poverty has not been alleviated despite the inputs over decades. Some of the answers are known, but there are surely elements amiss, like subsidies in developed countries.

The further question needs to be asked: why has the number of poor people in Africa (earning less than US$1 per day) doubled in the past 20 years?3 As a political international organisation representing the greatest number of LDCs, land-locked countries and small island states, this is clearly a battle the ACP Group engages in willingly and eagerly to promote the interests of its fragile Members. It can take up cudgels outside the confines of the EU and move this debate in the global forum of the concert of nations.
However, it is observed in Chapter 2 that there is a noticeable improvement in disbursements since 2003 and one country visited for this Study had absorbed accumulated funds in a markedly improved way.

  • Secondly, the ACP Group’s decision-making body is already taking political cognisance of the budgetisation of the EDF and this Study recommends that this political decision by the EU and MEPs be matched with firm political partnership positioning by the ACP Group which protects the size of the EDF, co-management as well as its multi-annual nature. The EC has provided arguments that size of the EDF can grow larger in the general budget by bringing the ACP Group into the “frontline”, that multi-annuality can be achieved by reallocating from uncommitted/decommitted funds in the budget, that no budget is completely predictable but the Financial Perspectives would serve the case, and that co-management would be achieved at country level. All of these arguments are favourable to the EC political agenda, but it remains to be proven that the ACP Group qua Group benefits.

  • The awareness that the Commission for Development garners the envelope for non-programmable disbursements for projects run through international organisations – the World Health Organisation -the Global Health Fund for combating AIDS, malaria and TB, the African Union for the Africa Peace Initiative, the water project - and sometimes is not even acknowledged as an EDF contribution, will lead to greater caution in accepting the process of budgetisation. This risks getting out of hand in a Heading 4 régime where funds can displace elsewhere and the EC avers that multi-annuality and flexibility can be achieved through a model where absorption difficulties in one country can lead to further disbursements out of the development budget in another Member, which is an arbitrary and non-foreseeable event and antipathetic to co-management4; there is a political role the ACP Group assumes because the basis is partnership and there is no co-management provided for. Co-management is also a victim of the use to which the reserve €1 billion out of the 9th EDF is being put – much of the reserve going to the Water Facility, the African Union for the Peace Initiative, and for the Education for All Fast Track Initiative (FTI)5. The usefulness of the help of ACP Parliamentarians is evidenced by the impact felt at Bamako, Mali, at the last Joint Parliamentary Assembly6 when a compromise was reached to effect a joint study7;

  • Thirdly, now that the EU has enlarged, the ACP Group, for political and economic reasons, needs to court the ten New Member States of the EU who have little experience with the Group and European Union traditions towards developing states; their joining could have the effect of increasing EU exports of cheap agricultural products to ACP countries;

  • Fourthly an economic role underpins the phases in the negotiation of Economic Partnership Agreements with the six regions. The ACP Group has set itself guidelines for negotiation but it is recommended in this Study that, to ensure a uniform and consistent type of accord and the overcoming of the different development rules applicable to Least Developed Countries, the ACP Group follows closely the profile of the Agreements as they evolve, to aim to protect revenue and industries under threat at the removal of tariff/customs barriers and be constantly kept in the loop both by the EC as a matter of course and the Regional Integration Organisations and to keep close watch on Fisheries Agreements8;

  • Fifthly, to promote political visibility and economic viability amongst ACP members, it is advisable the Forum defined in the Santo Domingo Declaration be brought into operation, trade and investment seminars organised (especially with New Member States) and Non-State Actors exploited positively; the Joint Ministerial Trade Committee (See Article 38 of the Cotonou Agreement) needs also to examine ways of protecting emerging industries in ACP States against EPA trade liberalisation together with one of the two organs of the ACP Group, namely the Centre for Development of Enterprise and their experts;

  • Sixthly, efficiencies are suggested in the performance of the ACP Group in its developmental role such as a central role in monitoring customs unions in the context of regional co-operation; matching the negotiating skills of the EC Delegates at local level with the addition of expert staff delegated to collaborate in the National and Regional Indicative Programmes and their application; analysing the Joint Annual Report and feedback at Mid-Term Review of the Country Support Papers at a high political level; the continuation of regional National and Regional Authorising Officer workshops; mutual co-operation between NAOs and RAOs; and finally a more rational regional grouping list.

And as WTO rules take purchase on world trade,

  • Seventhly,

* the development of diversification strategies for Members’ economies and the protection of value-added product transformation enterprises must form part of the negotiating process together with a reconsideration of Economic Partnership Agreements and must be linked by members to the negotiations with the World Trade Organisation in the Doha agenda – the WTO has provided for funding to build capacity in developing countries namely the Joint Integrated Technical Assistance Programme9;

* the overlapping and wasteful duplication of research into improving export products and marketing through Member countries needs to be rationalised, together with a closer relationship with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN through Observer Status while a real unifying role can be reserved for the other organ of the ACP Group, the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development, a key unifier in intra-ACP relations;

  • Eighthly, this Study recommends that serious steps be taken to end the talking about the elimination of non-tariff barriers in the EU and the industrialised world and move to action. In document after document and in Article 37(9) of the Cotonou Agreement, deliberate measures impeding ACP Members’ exports such as restrictive Rules of Origin (recognised as a comprehensive problem by the Committee on Development Finance and the Joint Technical Co-ordination Committee for EPAs) and lack of standards/certification facilities are acknowledged. The examination and rectification to the benefit of the ACP Members, especially as ACP States open their frontiers to imports from the EU and the developed world, is urgent. EC Trade has acknowledged this impediment as has the UK’s Commission for Africa but evidence that it is seriously being removed are difficult to find; however an indicative amount of €30m of a €300m requirement is provided out of the reserve of the 9th EDF to strengthen ACP States’ capacity to meet the Official Feed and Food Controls, stringent regulations requiring 3rd countries to meet EU safety standards 10,

  • Ninthly, development of ACP Group agricultural value-added industries continues to be affected by cheap imports of EU produce facilitated by subsidies, so the ACP Group may make use of the research of other bodies (such as OXFAM) in negotiating the end of subsidies leading to unfair competition of agricultural and downstream products in the developed world, and

  • Tenthly, the ACP Group has already recognised it needs to help negotiate compensatory methods for the loss of state revenue in Member States resulting from lower customs tariffs under WTO compliance they will need to apply to imports from the developed world in less exacting forms than VAT or Sales Tax.

The scope of the examination of the issues at stake for the ACP Group on a political, developmental and economic/trade in Chapter 3 is to illustrate a few key areas in relations with the ACP Group’s partner in the Cotonou Agreement, the EU, and to make recommendations regarding the efficacy and determination to ensure the ACP Group’s relevance. This Study also underlines how the nature of a partnership can be distorted when one of the partners has changed course towards relaxing the previous special relationship and this Study makes recommendations to combat this. In some instances the EU appears to be going through the motions of keeping to its side of the bargain whereas the analysis tends to show that it is eager to cast the ACP Group in with all the other development strategies using phrases such as “at present the ACP are not in the mainstream of the Community’s development debate”11. This clear admission that the ACP Group has lost its priority status means that only by a clear and cohesive front towards the EU combined with a relevant role in the concert of nations, can the status be once again be attained.

This Study recommends the ACP Group look beyond the Cotonou Agreement for its future role in the concert of nations in the political sphere particularly. Planning starts now for the cementing of relations outside the EU because the ACP Group has historically carved out a position for itself which it can exploit, but the critical mass it has built up requires a serious effort of togetherness in the reinvention of its role as it breaks out of the developmental cocoon.
In Chapter 4, this Study examines Intra-ACP Relations and Cohesion as a prerequisite to making joint action possible for efficiency, visibility, political relevance, regional development and protection of the interests of the ACP Group in the new global context. This is a constant desire expressed by the Heads of State and Government of the ACP Group because the leaders realise that the ACP Group is a potential vehicle for the developing world and that the vehicle is powerful despite the fact that the Members are of the most deprived states on earth. In the area of Culture, success has been noted, but this Study recommends it be taken further so that the promotion of music, publishing, writing and art leads to enrichment of the poor.

At present, joint activities of the ACP Group centre mainly around Brussels, and, it is to be hoped, in Geneva with the new satellite office. However, the ACP Group has a tool at hand to make joint action and solidarity continuous and effective through the diplomatic offices of the majority of ACP members in other capitals where joint actions can take place or initiated – cost-free. This Study recommends ACP interests can be promoted in meetings, as EC Delegates’ meetings do, at the UN, London, New York, Washington, Paris, FAO/Rome, Addis, Dakar, Pretoria, Tokyo, Geneva. The Council of Ministers of the ACP Group decided in November 2004 to hold meetings of ACP organs outside Brussels with the host country as sponsor12. There is a plethora of overlapping international organisations and groupings, like the AU and the Group of 90 – reinvigorating the vehicle of the ACP to show its value, as a confirmed desire by the Heads of State and Government, makes it a powerful instrument in the era of globalisation.

At International Conferences and at international bodies, this Study recommends prior ACP caucusing as the order of the day and feedback provided to the Secretariat. The expertise of the Centre for Development of Enterprise (CDE) and the Technical Centre for Agriculture (CTA) can validly be sought where appropriate as well as that of the European Investment Bank. Some successes must be noted and should be emulated: the joint position adopted at Doha in 2001 (4th WTO Ministerial Meeting) and the joint position taken with the Group of 90 at the 5th WTO Ministerial Meeting at Cancún in 2003 and the statement by the President in Office at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. But the fact that separate submissions by the Africa Group, Ghana and Belize to the World Intellectual Property Organisation on the disclosure of Traditional Knowledge and sources of genetic material shows how the Group fails to show solidarity and weakens the position of all. (See Article 46 of the Cotonou Agreement). Closely linked with the intellectual property benefits which the developed world obtains from ACP Group States’ genetic plant material (recognised by the CDE as a prime element in development strategies), is the benefit it reaps from the use of ACP Group skilled immigrants as shown by a recent report specifically commissioned by the ACP Group on ACP citizens’ immigration to the EU – the use of ACP citizens’ brainpower and skills (particularly nurses and doctors) after training in their home countries, cries out for compensation to those countries that paid for the training. Joint petitioning is essential in this representation to the developed countries and the EU especially in the form of the Commissioner Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, and the help of the ILO needs to be sought to make this a real issue on the table for the standing committee of the Committee of Ambassadors for Social Affairs and Environment.
Besides sectoral Ministerial meetings (e.g. Ministers of Culture and the Cape Town meeting on Science and Research in 2002), this Study recommends heavy emphasis on trade and investment jointly in seminars and workshops to be organised by the Forum predicated by the Santo Domingo Declaration, together with the CDE so that a window can be opened to joint tropical trade: this needs also to be extended to joint tourism initiatives (See Article 24 of the Cotonou Agreement and CDE literature) which can also lead to opening up of better transport links and national airlines and shipping lines/passenger lines be included in the conferences. The recent meeting of the African Ministers of Air Transport 17 - 19 May 2005 shows the way of combining to create links, but here again the ACP Group was not present though the African Airlines Association was13. Businessmen and project developers in mega terms like the Inge Dam, the Trans-Africa Highway, IT, call centres & telephone links (See Article 43 of the Cotonou Agreement) between the regions need to be awoken to what can be tackled together and included in Country Support Strategies in planning for National Indicative Programmes. This should include validly seeking development support at a regional level to ensure water provision and energy in the medium term from a mega project like the Inge Dam through proper regional application of funds from the additional €250m for the Energy Facility (EU Energy Initiative) and also the additional €250m for the Water Facility.
EU New Member States can figure prominently in seminars, conferences and workshops together with the two organs of the ACP Group, the CDE and the CTA. These practical issues make it possible for planning for intra-ACP actions to follow up on spin-offs from large dams, energy networks and new transport facilities. This Study also supports follow-up to the Conference of Culture Ministers by events which can be income-generating in music, TV and film and forming a special section in the Secretariat to make it happen.
Because the political context has been made paramount in the Cotonou Agreement, ACP Group Parliamentarians need to play an increasing role in influencing their European colleagues on ACP Group developments: the political will of the leaders of ACP States must lead to a significant presence of ACP Parliamentarians at the Joint Assembly and this Study recommends only Parliamentarians should be permitted to speak and officials be excluded from participating in the debates. The decision in Bamako to bring about the ACP Parliamentary Assembly represents a step of potentially great importance if this instrument can be put to work to protect the interest of the ACP Group States. The key Bamako resolutions on post conflict rehabilitation, budgetisation, the Millennium Development Goals for education, the presence of Commissioners Mandelson and Michel at the JPA in Bamako (16-21 April 2005) and the debate on EPAs show how a united front can help progress in areas of concern for developing countries and the ACP Group’s role in particular. The reticence shown till now about criticism for Member States who infringe the ACP Group’s declared objectives of democracy, transparency and respect for human rights have to cease to ensure ACP Group international credibility. The fact that the Joint Parliamentary Assembly debated Sudan and the African Great Lakes region also show a renewed maturity in the ACP Group.
Impediments to the increase of ACP trade, namely non-tariff barriers and Rules of Origin, recognised as an impediment by the Joint Technical Committee which monitors the Economic Partnership Agreements, and also recognised as such in the Cotonou Agreement (Art 37(9)) need urgently to be revisited. In-depth re-examination can form a major part of the negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements regionally as little seems to be happening in this respect.
The major duplication which takes place in research on tropical food production and improvement, veterinary issues, disease and agricultural development needs to be eliminated to allow better use of ACP Group resources together with its link to the FAO of the UN and its local representative; similar arguments are relevant on University Education where the duplication of expensive and unproductive faculties in regions where previously a reference university existed – the Universities of the West Indies, Dakar, Makerere and Maseru for example. Conferences of Education, Science & Technology, Health, Communications & Transport Ministers as planned by the ACP Secretariat must be proceeded with together with operators, educators, private firms in the sectors (particularly private telephone service providers and businesses improving productivity and endurance of foodstuffs – pineapples, bananas, coir, mangoes, NERICA rice etc.) together with the expertise of the FAO and the ACP organs, the CDE and the CTA. Special project funding can be sought from the FAO.
Finally, the political leaders need to show more than their verbal support for the ACP Group as a preferred international political vehicle by ensuring their presence at Heads of State and Government Summits and at Council of Ministers Meetings while the Secretariat needs to play its role by organising well in advance, lobbying for participation at the highest level and ensuring proposals for practical application of decisions.
In Chapter 4, the essential platform for a role in the concert of nations and beyond the Cotonou Agreement, is at the centre of all debate and that platform can only be solid if the Members’ leaders acknowledge consciously and consistently that the ACP Group is the vehicle of choice. Sub-Saharan Africa can count on two regions outside the continent to support it as a matter of course, namely the Caribbean and Pacific regions. Their entry into the equation appears to be underestimated. Political, trade and development issues are mainly addressed through the African Union. For additional political weight, there are two uncontested partners to add numbers and new insights into political issues for the developing world, as well as combined efforts for trade, tourism, services, investment and research. The central role played by Africa in EU thinking on development can go in other directions to spread through intra-ACP unity into the other two world regions to mutual benefit.
In Chapter 5, this Study looks at the political function of the ACP Group on the world stage by recommendations relating to the perennial demand by the Heads of State and Government for outreach to other countries outside the ACP and to organisations which can co-operate in protecting ACP Group members’ interests: “Is there life outside of the Cotonou Agreement?” An essential break with the past is necessary as the EU makes moves to generalise development grants without cognisance of the ACP Group’s past special position in the gamut of external relations.
The number of overlapping and competing international organisations receives attention (See Annexes “M” and “N”) with a table of the confusing jurisdictions. The ACP Group loses its identity and leaders tend to neglect the ACP Group as an available and suitable vehicle to attain political, developmental and trade ends and to prefer, consciously or unconsciously, other bodies. This Study recommends the ACP group assert itself through a visibility matched by a change in its name to reflect its independent activity while maintaining its tradition, so that its political action gives it credibility in the concert of nations.
The ACP Group has acquired formal relationships with the international organisations where the ACP Group can act as a team and solicit further funding: OECD, UNCTAD, WHO, WIPO, but this Study recommends a widening of that net to include the African Union, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Food Programme – all relevant to the ACP Group Members’ interests. As far as Intellectual Property is concerned, immediate steps need to be taken to see how compensation for genetic sources and Traditional Knowledge for Members, especially, can be ensured. The presence of an office in Geneva gives the ACP Group a head start with the WTO, the WHO and WIPO, but this Study recommends that the Committee of Ambassadors form a sub-committee on Foreign Relations; and further recommends that ACP Group through the Geneva representative with already existing resources and personnel promote the ACP Group as vehicle and network for co-ordinating agent for general programmes, like that of the G8 for Africa. It should make use of the UN Observer Status in two ways:

  • mandate the Permanent Representative of the country bearing the Presidency as local spokesman in New York under the aegis of the Secretary-General of the ACP Group; and

  • promote participation in events of the UN by the President in Office.

The help and personnel support provided to the ACP Secretariat by the Agence Intergouvernementale de la Francophonie and the Commonwealth are examples of collaborative effort.

This Study recommends lobbying together by all ACP members in international groupings where ACP Members are present (like NAM and the Group of 90) to use effectively the strength of numbers.

As far as other countries are concerned, the alliances some of which have already started should be divided in two:

      1. countries with similar concerns and ideals who can strengthen lobbying like India, Brazil, South Africa; and

      1. countries who can join in the development and investment effort like Canada, Australia, USA, New Zealand, Japan and Russia. In both cases, the tentative steps taken such as in the case of France and Canada providing resources for the cultural initiative so far need to be formalised.

This Study recommends the powers given to the institutions of the ACP Group be expanded to carry out the task such as a sub-committee on foreign relations in the Committee of Ambassadors and a defined role for the Secretary General.

This Chapter gives form to the mandate of the Summits of Heads of State and Government to form relations with other states (named particularly in the Santo Domingo Declaration but repeated in the Nadi Declaration) and to form alliances with other organisations. This Study recommends efforts of solidarity with groupings of which Members form part to lend power to joint actions in favour of the developing world. In Chapter 6, the very foundation for these actions, namely the institutions of the ACP Group, receives attention to streamline and modernise the activities to prepare for the existence of independence of action: the revision of the founding document of the ACP Group, the Georgetown Agreement.
In Chapter 6 recommendations are made regarding the golden thread that runs through all of the above proposed significant initiatives and innovations the ACP Group is in a position to or could take to meet the requirements of the Declarations of the Summits of Heads of State and Government, viz. the streamlining, empowering and updating of the institutions and organs of the ACP Group and its Secretariat. This means a revision of the Georgetown Agreement, the founding document of the ACP Group. The steps which the Study recommends the ACP Group take to promote its members’ interests and to ward off the very real risks and threats to the future of the Group include:

  • The confirmation and recognition of the ACP Group as a fully-fledged International Organisation and the intervention by the President in Office at international events, the UN and Conferences to use his prestige to the benefit of the ACP Group;

  • Change in the name of the ACP Group to make its visibility and credibility clear and as an identifier with “ACP” retained and “Development” and “Organisation” added;

  • Whereas the ACP Group functions through its 79 shareholders now, to face the new world this Study recommends the role of Chief Executive Officer be assumed by the Secretary General who must act for and be Group spokesman; the Press Office needs to be given greater liberty of action to act pro-actively;

  • Consensus leads to a degree of inertia in the decision-making of the Group: a Voting Mechanism, already present for decisions of the Council of Ministers, is essential at other levels to streamline actions of the Group; to satisfy Members, voting should be instituted by Region;

  • Rotation being applied less rigidly in the exercise of leadership functions; this Study recommends that the life of the Council of Ministers Presidency be prolonged to two years to ensure continuity and provide greater scope for leadership; and, to avoid disruptions of Secretariat activity, which happens with a change of a number of upper echelon personnel at a single time, a staggering of senior appointments is proposed.

To put into effect the political will expressed by Heads of State and Government to expand the scope of the ACP Group, greater financial contributions from Members to Secretariat budgets are proposed and these contributions should be seen in conjunction with recommendations for the use of available budgets of the WTO (JITAP), the FAO and individual states. There are suggestions concerning income generated from cultural events.

The Recommendations are condensed into a readily applied ACTION PLAN which is a roadmap for the ACP Group to reinvent itself and make itself relevant.
Finally, a Table examines the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT Analysis) of the ACP Countries Group.


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