Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly : 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 house 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 DACP delegation participates on an equal basis 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 current Chair of the delegation is Louis Michel, a Belgian member of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. He is supported by twelve Vice-Chairs.

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

Focus

At its meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg the delegation also 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, or 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.

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

The meetings of the DACP also allow for exchanges with those responsible for political or administrative structures that play a major role in the ACP countries. The most recent meetings of this kind included one with Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and an exchange of views with a delegation of spiritual leaders and representatives of civil society in Mali.

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

Post-Cotonou

While the comprehensiveness of the Cotonou Agreement provides the delegation with many potential subjects for discussion, one surpasses all others in its potential impact on the ACP region: the expiry in 2020 of the Cotonou Agreement.

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. The form of the new agreement, however, is still far from clear.

A first draft was provided by a joint communication from the Commission and the High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission, published in November 2016. One of the major issues in the discussion should be whether the new agreement will be concluded with all the ACP countries or whether there will be agreements with separate regions.

The DACP delegation, like the ACP-EU JPA as a whole, has been closely following the on-going reflection 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 representatice from the APC 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 inan 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.