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Introduction

DACP: Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly

Background

The European Parliament's Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (DACP) is the EP part of the joint undertaking set up by the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.

The Agreement was signed in 2000 in Cotonou (Benin) by the EU Member States and 78 member countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). Its aim is to promote and expedite the economic, cultural and social development of the ACP States, with a view to contributing to peace and security and to promoting a stable and democratic political environment.

The partnership is centred on the objective of reducing and eventually eradicating poverty, consistent with the objectives of sustainable development and the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy.

The Agreement sets up three joint institutions: the Council of Ministers, the Committee of Ambassadors and the Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

The parliamentary institution, the "ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly" (ACP-EU JPA), is composed of equal numbers of EU and ACP representatives, and comprised of both the 78-member EP DACP Delegation and 78 members of parliament of the ACP countries.

Role

The Delegation participates together with ACP members in the activities of the Assembly (sessions, Bureau and committee meetings, regional meetings, fact-finding missions and election observation missions).

At the EP level, the Delegation also meets regularly in Brussels and Strasbourg to prepare the joint activities and monitor the implementation of the Cotonou Agreement, the situation in the ACP countries and prospects for the future of the partnership.

Composition

With 78 full members, the DACP is the EP's largest delegation.

At its constituent meeting, at the very beginning of the EP's mandate, the Delegation elects its Bureau (its Chair and Vice-Chairs), while the members are nominated by the EP plenary. The political balance of the Delegation mirrors that of the Parliament as a whole.

The former Chair of the Delegation is Louis Michel, a Belgian member of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. He was supported by twelve Vice-Chairs.

As Chair of the DACP delegation, Louis Michel was also Co-President of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

Focus

At its meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg the Delegation delves into questions of substance regarding the situation in the ACP countries.

The DACP takes a close look at the political, economic and social situation of the various countries and regularly welcomes political authorities and high-level officials and experts (including from the Commission, the European External Action Service and civil society).

Recent Delegation meetings have addressed, for example, the situation in the Central African Republic and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The DACP has welcomed both Faustin-Archange Touadéra, President of the Central African Republic and Abdou Karim Meckassoua, President of the National Assembly of the Central African Republic, as well as Aubin Minaku, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Moreover, in November 2018, on the occasion of the European Parliament Human Rights Week, the Delegation exchanged views with Rémy Ngoy Lumbu, Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. Finally, the Delegation also met Ambassador Awad Sakine Ahmat, Permanent Representative of the African Union to the European Union.

The Delegation also follows elections in ACP countries. The ACP-EU JPA organises joint election observation missions and in addition, some members of the DACP participate in EU election observation missions, including as EU Chief Observer or as Chair of the EP mission, providing an opportunity to share their experiences with DACP colleagues.

The meetings of the DACP allow for exchanges with those responsible for key political or administrative structures in ACP countries. Some recent exemples include Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and a delegation of spiritual leaders and representatives of civil society in Mali.

Since 2011, meetings of the EP members of the Bureau have been organised between four and six times a year, in particular to prepare and follow up the meetings of the ACP-EU JPA Bureau and discuss the most sensitive and pressing political issues.

Post-Cotonou

As the replacement of the Lomé Convention, which had structured ACP-EU cooperation since 1975, the Cotonou Agreement should itself be replaced by a new pact when it expires in February 2020.

Both the EU and the ACP negotiating mandates for a new Agreement stress the need for a strengthened and more comprehensive partnership. It should be based on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development and beyond the overall objective of eradicating poverty, it should seek to combat climate change, promote equitable growth, trade and investment, fight terrorism and organised crime, tackle migration challenges and promote Human Rights and gender equality, democracy and the rule of law.

The form of the new agreement shall consist of a common foundation at all ACP level and regional partnerships with each of the three regions in the form of protocols. The official negotiations kicked off in September 2018 and the IV and last Round has just been launched.

DACP, like the ACP-EU JPA as a whole, has been closely following the on-going reflection and negotiation process. The Delegation firmly intends to ensure that the parliamentary dimension of the future agreement is fully taken into account, preserved and even enhanced, since it is one of the most original components of the current Cotonou Agreement and one of the most able to ensure regular and thorough dialogue between all parties.

Establishing the Joint Parliamentary Assembly: Text of the Cotonou Agreement

From:
The revised Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part

Article 14
The joint institutions


The institutions of this Agreement are the Council of Ministers, the Committee of Ambassadors and the Joint Parliamentary Assembly.
[...]

Article 17
The Joint Parliamentary Assembly

1. The Joint Parliamentary Assembly shall be composed of equal numbers of EU and ACP representatives. The members of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly shall be, on the one hand, members of the European Parliament and, on the other, members of parliament or, failing this, representatives designated by the parliament of each ACP State. In the absence of a parliament, the attendance of a representative from the ACP State concerned shall be subject to the prior approval of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

2. The role of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly, as a consultative body, shall be to:
  • promote democratic processes through dialogue and consultation;
  • facilitate greater understanding between the peoples of the European Union and those of the ACP States and raise public awareness of development issues;
  • discuss issues pertaining to development and the ACP-EU Partnership, including the Economic Partnership Agreements, other trading arrangements, the European Development Fund and Country and Regional Strategy Papers. To this end, the Commission shall transmit such Strategy Papers for information to the Joint Parliamentary Assembly;
  • discuss the annual report of the Council of Ministers on the implementation of this Agreement, and adopt resolutions and make recommendations to the Council of Ministers with a view to achieving the objectives of this Agreement;
  • advocate for institutional development and capacity building of national parliaments in accordance with Article 33(1) of this Agreement.
3. The Joint Parliamentary Assembly shall meet twice a year in plenary session, alternately in the European Union and in an ACP State. With a view to strengthening regional integration and fostering cooperation between national parliaments, meetings between EU and ACP members of parliament may be arranged at regional level.

4. The Joint Parliamentary Assembly shall adopt its rules of procedure within six months of the entry into force of this Agreement.