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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Hearts and minds for ACP-EU relations

The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) needs to strengthen itself politically while the EU must be prepared to renew its partnership with ACP countries, taking it beyond the donor-recipient relationship. These are some of the opinions set forth in a Special Report on the future of the ACP-EU relationship just published by The Broker, and a conference on the topic organized by the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) in Maastricht last week. […] The ACP-EU partnership, sealed by a treaty known as the Cotonou agreement, is due to expire in 2020. As one would expect from a gathering of such prominent stakeholders, most agreed that the partnership is worth renewing. However, it is widely shared that in its current form, the partnership is too much of a donor-recipient relationship. If it was not for the € 4400 million in funding allocated annually to ACP countries from the European Development Fund (EDF), would the ACP in fact exist as a group of states on the international stage? With Mirjam van Reisen, the author of our Special Report, many conference participants expressed their hope that the ACP pursue a more prominent, political position in international decision-making, and explore new opportunities for cooperation with  emerging countries such as China, India and Brazil. Others are more skeptical; pointing out that the ACP group is too diverse and geographically dispersed to operate effectively as a political bloc. Still others believe that the ACP should continue to focus on its role as principal partner for European development cooperation, and strengthen intra-group relations.