Monday, December 18, 2006
A valuable ACP-EU dialogue
Maastricht, 18 December. Lingston Cumberbatch, ECDPM Board Chair and former Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador to the EU opened the ECDPM Seminar on "The Cotonou Partnership Agreement: What role in a changing world?" by reflecting – as a self-proclaimed 'dinosaur' with a long ACP history – on the current Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) between ACP and EU countries.
In his opinion, the CPA "epitomizes the relationship between the ACP and the EU". It is valued by both sides and he personally sees this "long-standing partnership in a positive light".
He emphasized how EU programming has, since 1975, placed "the recipient at the centre stage." This has been a "significant benefit" to the ACP countries, leading to a system in which ACP countries have a significant role in deciding how their EU development cooperation is used.
According to Cumberbatch, political dialogue in the CPA is "being used as a tool to manage the partnership" – also including civil society. He noted however that there seems to be less personal dialogue between EU and ACP leaders – fewer presidents coming to Brussels and fewer EC ministers or leaders attending ACP-EU meetings.
However, he is concerned that "more and more discretionary powers are being assumed by the Commission" – with less than 50% of EDF funding provided through national and regional indicative programmes (that ACP countries formulate). This, he argued, raises fundamental questions of the partnership. Is it to strengthen the abilities of ACP countries to decide on local needs, or is it to support the EU policy agenda?
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