Local governance, stepping up intra-ACP trade and common management of ACP-EU migration were among the topics discussed by the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) at its 31st session, which closed on Wednesday 15 June, in Windhoek, Namibia.
In a debate on Wednesday, Members called for a renewed post-Cotonou architecture to adapt the ACP-EU partnership to new global challenges. Co-President ad interim Michèle Rivasi (Greens/EFA, FR) stressed the need to strengthen the parliamentary dimension and include civil society in the new form of cooperation. MEPs and their ACP counterparts were also joined by Mozambique’s former President Joaquim Chissano to debate the changing face of conflict and global security threats and their impact on global peace and stability. MEPs and MPs also discussed the prevention and management of epidemics in a post-Ebola context and the Zika virus threat.
Three reports and two urgent resolutions were approved at the Wednesday afternoon voting session. They concern:
Common management of ACP-EU migration
MEPs and MPs called for an urgent co-ordinated initiative to improve the deplorable situation of migrants and refugees within the European Union or en route to Europe. The complex links between climate change and migration deserve special attention and the countries concerned should get technical assistance, they added.
The Assembly reiterated the inalienable right to migrate in order to escape persecution and seek better living conditions. It also stressed the importance of exploiting the possibilities offered by legal migration policies and inclusive reception programmes.
Ending impunity for rape and violence against women and children in armed conflicts
The resolution voted by the Assembly calls for an end to impunity for perpetrators of violence against women and children during and after armed conflicts, which is still all too common. . Military leaders should issue clear instructions that protecting civilians is a priority, suggest MEPs and MPs.
Clear election timetable in the DRC
MEPs and MPs worried by the instable pre-electoral climate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), debated the issue on Tuesday afternoon and voted a resolution on Wednesday afternoon calling on the authorities there to approve a timetable and budget for the presidential and legislative elections expected in November 2016. They call on the DRC to pursue its democratisation, voice concerns about the deterioration of security, the human rights situation and growing political violence, and urge the DRC to pursue a national policy dialogue open to all.
Stepping up trade and cultural exchanges among African countries
The gradual building of an economic and cultural free trade area in Africa should contribute to development, strengthen the economic fabric, and create opportunities for African countries to open up and integrate into the world economy, says a resolution voted by the Assembly. MEPs and MPs call on countries to build upon existing regional agreements, and reiterate the need for access to capital to support growth and job-creating African industry.
Strengthening governance and participation at local level
To enhance participation in decisions that affect citizens directly in their diversity, MEPs and MPs call for greater autonomy in local decision taking, which, they point out, entails transferring powers and resources to local level. They nonetheless acknowledge that there is no single decentralisation model that would work for all countries. Women, young people and handicapped people should be fully involved in decision taking at all levels of society and particularly at local level, they add.
Next ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly
The 32nd Parliamentary Assembly is scheduled for 19-21 December 2016 and should take place in the Central African region.