ACP-EU: leading sustainable economic development for local communities
- Tourism and blue economy, vectors of development if conducted in a sustainable manner
- Concerns for the rule of law in Mauritania
- Call for dialogue in Catalonia and a peaceful transition in Zimbabwe
MEPs and Members of the ACP call for sustainable economic development for the benefit of local communities.
At the 34th session of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), which brought together African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) and European Union (EU) countries, MEPs discussed the negative and short-term effects of mass tourism with Isabelle Durant, Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD. Sustainable tourism, respectful of the needs and traditions of local communities, must be encouraged as a vehicle for potentially significant economic development in ACP countries, said MEPs.
Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, ACP-EU members noted in an emergency resolution referring to the damage caused in September by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devastated several Caribbean islands. Members adopted an emergency resolution calling on the most vulnerable states to integrate climate change adaptation strategies into their sustainable development policies and for the EU to incorporate these efforts to build the resilience of local people into its programmes and projects.
Finally, the sustainable exploitation and processing of natural resources should be a source of economic and social development for the ACP and should benefit local communities, say Members. They call for action against the illegal exploitation of minerals.
Concerns about the resurgence of slavery practices
In the second emergency resolution, MPs from the ACP and EU countries also decided on an ad hoc delegation to Mauritania to observe all government parties and civil society on the continuing respect for the rule of law, human rights and the effective implementation of the roadmap for the eradication of slavery.
This practice was also strongly denounced during the debate on the situation of migrants and refugees in Libya. A statement by the co-chairs calls on all international bodies to provide the necessary assistance for the protection of migrants and welcomes the creation of a joint EU-AU-UN task force to save and protect the lives of migrants who suffer from insecurity and the consequences of the lack of a central government in Libya. The co-chairs still call for promoting legal migration channels and addressing the root causes of irregular migration.
Institutional situation in Catalonia and peaceful transition in Zimbabwe
Catalonia was the subject of a lively debate among ACP-EU Members. Some criticised the violence of the Spanish government's reaction to the unilateral independence referendum organised by regional bodies and called on the EU to act more clearly in favour of respect for people's freedom and human rights. Representatives of the European Commission and several MEPs recalled the non-constitutional nature of the referendum held, called for dialogue and hoped for a constructive outcome to the regional elections on 21 December, stressing that this was an internal Spanish issue.
MEPs and their ACP colleagues also referred to the recent change in Zimbabwe's leadership after 37 years. Members called for a peaceful transition and the holding of free and open elections in July 2018. The European Parliament will address this issue at the plenary session in January 2018.
Three reports were approved at the voting session on Wednesday afternoon.
- The blue economy, a source of economic activity around the seas and oceans, should be sustainable, take into account environmental concerns (pollution), the fragility of the marine environment (overexploitation of resources, mining exploration), the exhaustibility of available resources (overfishing control and the fight against illegal fishing) and aim to improve the livelihoods of coastal or island communities, underline the members.
- There is a need to improve access to basic healthcare and medicines against infectious diseases, in particular by reducing the price of patented products for low-income countries and combating counterfeiting. Members call on the EU and ACP to invest more in healthcare systems for rapid deployment at the front line of public health emergencies (cholera, malaria, Ebola, hepatitis B) and overall improved access to care.
- The interdependence between security and development in EU and ACP policies is widely recognised. Lack of security hinders development agendas, investment and job creation, while lack of development prospects and poverty fuel insecurity and terrorism. These various aspects should be integrated into the post-Cotonou negotiations to increase the impact of European instruments supporting security and development.
Next ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly
The 35th session of the ACP-EU JPA will be held from 18 to 20 June 2018 in an EU country.