The implosion of Mali could have devastating consequences for neighbouring states such as Niger, Mauritania and Senegal, Louis Michel, ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Co-President, said on Monday, at the opening of the Assembly’s 23rd session in Horsens. Addressing the deputies, Mr Michel also warned that the current crisis in the Sahel region could not be solved without both political and military intervention.

The Joint Assembly of MEPs and their counterparts from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries is focusing this week on the political impact of the Libyan conflict on ACP and EU countries, price volatility and the functioning of agricultural markets and the social and environmental impact of mining in the ACP countries. The Assembly will adopt the resolutions on Wednesday.

“Nowhere have the consequences of the Libyan conflict been more devastating than in Mali, cut into two” since the March coup d'état, the Touaregs' self-proclaimed independence in the north and the presence of international terrorist groups, Mr Michel said, stressing that the domino effect throughout the region would also hit Algeria, Burkina Faso, and even Libya itself. Mr Michel called for a rapid deployment in July 2012 of a civilian-military mission in the region and EU financial support for possible ECOWAS military operations in Mali.

Civilians first victims of the crisis

"The worst thing is that the political and military crisis leaves the local populations vulnerable," Mr Michel added, pointing out that 130,000 refugees had fled Mali by the end of April. "The most immediate impact of this crisis will be on food," ACP Co-President of the Assembly Musikari Kombo said. "Food and medicine are fast becoming scarce for the poorest families."

Nigeria, Sudan and South Sudan

"Nigeria is facing an escalating terrorism threat," which directly threatens the country's federal structure and its democracy, Mr Kombo added. "Confronting terrorism will require nothing less than the entire cooperation of all democratic forces," he said. Both co-presidents called for a quick and peaceful settlement of the disputes between Sudan and South Sudan and a balanced approach by the international community to both countries.

Climate change and sustainable development

“Climate change is the biggest threat to each and every nation represented in this Assembly“ Mr Michel stressed, echoed by the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, for whom "climate change is a common challenge" for the EU and ACP countries. "Sustainable growth is possible," she said, pointing to the example of her country and adding that the "green agenda" needs to be part of the EU response to the crisis. "We will not turn inwards," she promised.

EU-ACP cooperation should aim at sustainable development, Speaker of the Danish Assembly Mogens Lykketoft added, stressing the importance of parliamentary scrutiny in both solid democracies and in the more fragile ones. "We have the responsibility to show that democracy can pave the way."

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) brings together elected representatives of the European Union and the ACP countries, with MEPs and MPs from 78 states that are signatories of the Cotonou Agreement, which is the basis for ACP-EU development cooperation.

Other agenda items this week include a debate with Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and International Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. MEPs and ACP MPs will also focus on the urban development challenges in the ACP countries.

The assembly will vote on Wednesday, 30 May, on three resolutions dealing with the

following subjects:

  • "Price volatility, the functioning of global markets for agricultural products and their impact on food security in ACP countries", report by David Martin (S&D, United Kingdom) and Eunice Kazembé (Malawi)

  • "The social and environmental impact of mining in ACP countries", report by Michèle Rivasi (Greens/EFA, France) and Job Ndugai (Tanzania)

  • "The Political Impact of the Libyan conflict on neighbouring ACP and EU States", report by David Casa (EPP, Malta) and Assarid Imbarcouane (Mali)

List of speakers:

Louis MICHEL, Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly

Musikari KOMBO, Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly

Helle THORNING-SCHMIDT, Prime Minister of Denmark

Mogens LYKKETOFT, Speaker of the National Assembly of Denmark

Meeting venue:

Forum Horsens, Langmarksvej 53, 8700 Horsens