ACP gearing for crucial talks with Europe

Secretary General of the 79-member grouping, Dr. Mohammed IBN Chambas told delegates to the 95th session of the ACP Council of Ministers that it would be wrong for “us in the ACP to continue to operate on the basis of an entitlement mentality”.

But at the same time he warned Europe “would be wrong to assume that old attitudes will suffice for a world that has changed beyond what anyone would have imagined”.

It was a theme that was also echoed by St. Lucia’s Foreign Minister Alva Baptiste, the President of the ACP Council, who told the opening ceremony that while in the coming years, the relationship between the two parties will endure “we cannot continue to take those relations for granted.

“Europe itself is changing both in terms of geopolitical priorities and institutional architecture,” he said, adding “this makes it all the more pressing that we explore all the possibilities of reinventing the ACP as a group and ensuring a more solid base for our relationship with the EU.

“Equally imperative is the need to diversify our international economic relations by exploring South-South linkages with the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other emerging economic powers,” Baptiste said.

The meeting here has before it a number of issues including the prolonged negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe which are yet to be finalised with the African and Pacific countries. The Caribbean as part of the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) grouping signed the accord in 2008.

There is also the ACP’s position to be adopted for the upcoming United Nations sponsored environment conference, Rio+20 in Brazil as well as the exploration of alternative scenarios and institutional reinvention of the ACP and developing a common position on a successor to the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

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