Cotonou Partnership Agreement
 ACP-EU Relations in a Changing World


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cotonou questions

On 18 and 19 December, ECDPM hosts a seminar on the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement. We are looking at 5 key questions:
  • Putting the political dimension into practice. Is the increased political focus of ACP-EU cooperation contributing to development? The Cotonou Agreement has a strong focus on the political dimensions of partnership, attaching importance to political dialogue, governance, and peace and security issues. Has this focus contributed to achieving development objectives?

  • Broadening the partnership to non-state actors and local governments. Has Cotonou broadened the partnership? Signatories to the Cotonou Agreement agreed to involve non-state actors and local governments in all aspects of ACP-EU cooperation. Did they succeed in promoting dialogue and collaboration between state and non-state actors? What has worked well? What bottlenecks have been encountered?

  • Redefining ACP-EU trade relations. Are EPAs an instrument for development and poverty reduction? To what extent do EPAs contribute to the central poverty reduction objectives of the Cotonou Agreement?

  • EDF management and performance. Is the emphasis on performance and the rationalisation of instruments and management of aid contributing to more effective and efficient development programmes? The Cotonou Agreement introduced the performance based review process as well as multi-annual ‘rolling’ programming. Efforts have also been made to decentralise decision making, rationalise complex administrative and financial procedures and to introduce new aid modalities such as budget support. Have these changes been positive from a development perspective? Do they match the realities on the ground?

  • What is the future role of the Cotonou Agreement in a changing development environment? Does the EU and ACP special relationship have a future? What will be the impact of increasing regional differentiation within the EPA negotiations and specific EU support strategies for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific? How will the emergence of strong new actors such as the African Union impact on the political dialogue? What trends and scenarios for the future can we expect?
Post your comments on the issue.

Risk aversion in a risky business does not work!!!

THE outstanding issue in ACP-EC cooperation is implementation. Strategies, policies and legal frameworks are all (more or less) in place. Its implementation of which remains the Achilles Heel for the ACP an in particular for the EC. The Cotonou Agreement did not change the fact that implementation remains the 'troubled kid' in ACP-EU cooperation. Changes to the broader EC aid system (institutional, organizational and procedural) since 2000 have paralyzed the implementation system. Today, focus within the EC aid system is on accountability, control and transparency. We have lost out on the real issues: quality, efficiency and effectiveness.

The devil is in the details. The real issue is thus not about the Cotonou Agreement which has all the 'correct' paragraphs but rather the EC aid machinery and its procedures. Hopefully, the participants in the ECDPM seminar will carefully assess the implementation issues and provide concrete, practical suggestions for improvements.

One bold initiative could be to ensure that the ACP Secretariat/group is in a good negotiation position - based on close cooperation with groups of NAOs and RAOs - BEFORE the joint DFC discusses the 10th EDF financial regulations. The 10EDF financial regulation will be the building block for ACP-EC cooperation until 2013.

Changes (ceilings, tender procedures, etc.) to the EDF10 Financial Regulations would not solve the problem but it would be a very good start. Complementary changes in the EC decision making (too many visa needed, requirements to use the EC framework contract) and the organizational set-up would also be needed.

We need a radical change at the field level but we cannot do it with bold initiatives in Brussels
Difference in mentalities is an existing issue-not bad or good stuff, but simply a pattern of existence. That is why “where feet rise from” is too commonly comprehended question for too many in global projects-related blogs especially.

What is a goal for the ACP-EU cooperation?

Siphoning euros into “internaional aid”-that is de facto creating working places for EU-passport holders / sustaining précis for a particular African leadership in return for much needed African resources- OR developing infrastructure and industries while logically gambling with their possible re-orientation along open world market's forces in the future?

So far, goals determine actions, perhaps.

Michael Kerjman
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