The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States has voiced concerns over the inclusion of a differentiated approach towards aid in the European Commission’s Agenda for Change.
The proposed policy seeks to deliver EU development assistance more efficiently by focussing on key priority areas and targeting resources towards Least Developed Countries, while cutting national allocations to High Income and Upper Middle Income Countries.
“The inclusion of the element of graduation, linked to a differentiated approach with respect to access to resources, in our view is not within the spirit of the Second Revision of Cotonou [ACP-EU Partnership Agreement],” stated ACP Secretary General Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, while addressing the Pacific ACP leaders in Rarotonga, Cook Islands this week.
“We believe that ACP countries that have achieved favourable economic performance should be supported to transition into a more stable and sustainable growth path. Countries should not be unduly punished because they have been able to ensure growth and prosperity through discipline, sound governance and prudent economic policies.”
Countries have argued that specific vulnerabilities faced by Small Island Developing States are not reflected in the economic classification of countries.
Caribbean countries are most likely to face exclusion from EU bilateral aid under the new policy, as well as several countries from Africa and the Pacific As the Commission has proposed to withdraw Market Access Regulation 1528/2007 if countries that initialled EPAs do not close negotiations by the end of December 2013. Under this change, those not classified as Least Developed Countries will lose duty free and quota free access to EU markets. The European Parliament is set to vote on the proposal on September 12.
The ACP Group called on the European Union to reconsider any measures that might appear unilateral or that would modify the legal framework of the 2010 revised Cotonou Agreement.The Pacific ACP leaders plan to seek a meeting with the European Commission to finalise EPAs following a joint technical meeting to address contentious issues of the trade agreement in October.
“The dialogue on this issue is continuing in Brussels and we hope that a mutually acceptable solution can be found soon,” concluded the Secretary General.
The European Union remains the largest donor of development aid worldwide, allocating more than 22 billion Euros to African, Caribbean and Pacific nations within the 10th European Development Fund framework covering 2008 to 2013.
The ACP Group is the largest trans-national intergovernmental organisation of developing countries in the international system, with 79 member countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Today, the main goal of the Group is to drive South-South solidarity and North-South cooperation for the sustainable development of ACP countries and their successful integration into the world economy.
Originally brought together as a result of the Association Clause in the Rome Treaty of 1957, which established the European Common Market, the Georgetown Agreement of 1975 formally established the ACP Group as an intergovernmental association.