REPORT on the work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in 2008

20.2.2009 - (2008/2303(INI))

Committee on Development
Rapporteur: Thierry Cornillet

Procedure : 2008/2303(INI)
Document stages in plenary
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on the work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in 2008


The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the partnership agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states (ACP), of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000 (Cotonou Agreement)[1],

–   having regard to the Rules of Procedure of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), adopted on 3 April 2003[2], as most recently amended in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) on 28 November 2008[3],

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation[4],

–   having regard to the Kigali Declaration on development-friendly Economic Partnership Agreements[5] (EPAs), adopted by the JPA on 22 November 2007 in Kigali (Rwanda),

–   having regard to the Port Moresby Declaration on the global food and financial crises, adopted by the JPA on 28 November 2008 in Port Moresby,

–   having regard to the resolutions adopted by the JPA in 2008:

· on the social and environmental consequences of structural adjustment programmes[6],

· on experiences from the European regional integration process relevant to ACP countries[7],

· on food security issues in ACP countries and the role of ACP-EU cooperation[8],

· on the situation in Kenya[9],

· on the protection of civilians during peacekeeping operations by the UN and regional organisations[10],

· on aid effectiveness and defining official development assistance[11],

· on the social consequences of child labour and strategies to combat child labour[12],

· on the situation in Mauritania[13],

· on the situation in Zimbabwe[14],

–   having regard to the Windhoek Communiqué adopted on 29 April 2008 in Windhoek (Namibia)[15],

–   having regard to the Port Vila Communiqué adopted on 1 December 2008 in Port Vila (Vanuatu)[16],

–   having regard to the JPA Bureau declaration of 25 November 2008 on the French EU Presidency[17],

–   having regard to the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid signed on 18 December 2007[18],

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Development (A6‑0081/2009),

A. having regard to the EPAs signed with some ACP regions or countries during the course of 2008 and to the JPA debates in March 2008 in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and November 2008 in Port Moresby on the latest developments in the EPA negotiations,

B.  whereas Parliament and the Council have adopted Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006, which provides for thematic programmes also applicable to ACP countries and a programme of accompanying measures for Sugar Protocol countries,

C. whereas the Commissioner with responsibility for development and humanitarian aid gave an undertaking at the JPA session in Wiesbaden (Germany) in June 2007 to subject Country and Regional Strategy Papers for the ACP countries (2008-2013) to democratic scrutiny by parliaments; welcoming the fact that that undertaking has been fulfilled,

D. whereas the fresh revision of the Cotonou Agreement scheduled for 2010 provides a valuable opportunity to enhance the JPA's regional dimension and develop parliamentary scrutiny in ACP regions, as well as to strengthen the JPA’s own role and activities,

E.  whereas the two JPA regional meetings held in Namibia and Vanuatu in 2008 were a considerable success and resulted in the adoption of the abovementioned Windhoek and Port Vila communiqués,

F.  whereas the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorated still further in 2008, despite the holding of elections in July 2008; welcoming, nonetheless, the agreement which led to the adoption of a resolution on Zimbabwe at the 16th JPA session in Port Moresby,

G. having regard to the ongoing conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the grave, repeated human rights violations in that country, as well as to the need for effective humanitarian assistance and greater commitment from the international community,

H. having regard to the work of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and the establishment of formal relations between the European Parliament and the PAP, as well as to the intention voiced by the President of the European Parliament during his address at the 10th session of the PAP on 28 October 2008 to set up an interparliamentary delegation for the next parliamentary term,

I.   whereas the 16th JPA session in Port Moresby and the Doha International Conference on Financing for Development were held almost simultaneously, thus forcing many Members to make a difficult choice,

J.   having regard to the excellent contributions made by the EU Presidency-in-Office (Slovenia) and the Government of Papua New Guinea to the abovementioned JPA sessions in Ljubljana and Port Moresby,

K. having regard to the study visits made by the JPA Bureau in 2008:

     –   to the Seychelles, and

     –   to Surinam, Saint Vincent and Saint Lucia,

1.  Welcomes the fact that in 2008 the JPA continued to provide a framework for an open, democratic and in-depth dialogue on the negotiation of EPAs between the European Union and the ACP countries;

2.  Draws attention to the concerns voiced by the JPA about several formal and substantive aspects of the negotiations; points out that the debate is still in progress following the adoption of the EPA with the Cariforum and of interim agreements with certain countries in other regions;

3.  Welcomes the new Commissioner for Trade’s positive response to the request by several ACP countries and regions to revisit the contentious issues, in line with the statements made by the President of the Commission;

4.  Underlines the need for close parliamentary scrutiny during the negotiation as well as during the implementation of EPAs; criticises the fact that the work and role of the JPA is threatened by the prospect of the creation of a new body in the context of EPAs – namely the parliamentary committee – without the relationship between that body and the JPA being made clear; calls for the parliamentary committee to operate as part of the JPA, to avoid a costly and complicated proliferation of meetings, taking advantage of the JPA’s system of regional meetings, and to exploit the experience of the JPA and promote synergy between all the EPA regions; stresses the desirability of this committee operating in a flexible manner, enabling it to draw on the expertise on both trade and development issues of the Members of the European Parliament involved in the examination of the EPA in committee;

5.  Stresses in particular the crucial role of the ACP national parliaments, non-state actors and local authorities in monitoring and managing EPAs, and calls on the Commission to guarantee their involvement in the ongoing negotiation process, which requires a clear agenda for further negotiations, to be agreed by the ACP countries and the Union and based on a participatory approach;

6.  Draws attention to the JPA's concern at the repercussions of the current financial crisis and welcomes the Assembly's adoption of the Port Moresby Declaration on the global food and financial crises; calls on the JPA to hold regular debates on this issue;

7.  Welcomes the undertaking given by the Commissioner with responsibility for development and humanitarian aid during the abovementioned JPA session in Kigali to subject Country and Regional Strategy Papers for the ACP countries (2008-2013) to democratic scrutiny by parliaments, as well as the work already performed by certain ACP parliaments in examining such documents;

8.  Draws attention, in this regard, to the need closely to involve parliaments in the democratic process and in the national development strategies; stresses their vital role in establishing, following up and monitoring development policies;

9.  Calls on the parliaments of the ACP countries to insist that their governments and the Commission involve them in the process of drafting and implementing the Country and Regional Strategy Papers relating to cooperation between the European Union and their countries (2008-2013);

10. Calls on the Commission to supply all available information to the parliaments of the ACP countries and to assist them in exercising democratic scrutiny, in particular by means of capacity-building;

11. Is in favour of incorporating the European Development Fund (EDF) into the EU budget in order to increase the consistency, transparency and effectiveness of development cooperation policy and guarantee democratic scrutiny thereof; underlines that incorporating the EDF into the EU budget is also an appropriate response to the difficulties affecting the implementation and ratification of successive EDFs;

12. Calls on parliaments to exercise close parliamentary scrutiny of the EDF; highlights the JPA’s key position in this debate and calls on it and the parliaments of the ACP countries to take an active part therein, in particular in connection with the revision of the Cotonou Agreement scheduled for 2010; insists that the JPA be involved in the whole process of negotiating that revision;

13. Welcomes the increasingly parliamentary – and hence political – nature of the JPA, together with the ever more active role played by its members and the greater quality of its debates, which are helping it to make a vital contribution to the ACP-EU partnership;

14. Considers the abovementioned JPA resolutions on the situation in Kenya and in Zimbabwe to be significant examples of this enhanced dialogue;

15. Calls on the JPA to continue to address the situation in Sudan, and in particular in Darfur, namely by assessing the position of the Union and ACP countries regarding the ICC indictments;

16. Calls on the JPA to continue to address the situation in Somalia, which is endangering the lives of the Somali people, poses a threat to security in the region and is a source of global instability owing to the increasing occurrence of lawlessness, extremism and piracy;

17. Calls on the JPA to continue to discuss the alarming situation in Zimbabwe, where the elections held in July 2008 failed to restore democracy and where the economic situation poses a genuine threat to the health and lives of millions of Zimbabweans and to the stability of the region;

18. Calls on the JPA to continue to contribute to the international community's efforts to raise awareness of the conflicts affecting the eastern DRC, to promote a negotiated political situation to the crisis and to support any action that may be proposed as part of a negotiated solution;

19. Calls on the JPA to pursue and deepen dialogue with the PAP and the parliaments of regional organisations, in view of the importance of regional integration to peace and development in ACP countries;

20. Deplores the fact that the JPA was not properly consulted during the drafting of the Joint EU-Africa Strategy and hopes that the Assembly will be actively involved in the implementation of that strategy;

21. Welcomes the fact that the first of the regional meetings provided for in the Cotonou Agreement and the JPA Rules of Procedure were held in 2008; considers that these meetings make for a genuine exchange of views on regional issues, including conflict prevention and resolution, and that European policies help to enhance regional cohesion; stresses that these meetings are particularly timely as regards the negotiation, conclusion and implementation of EPAs and should be a priority; commends the organisers of the two extremely successful meetings in Namibia and Vanuatu and supports the holding of the forthcoming meetings in the Caribbean and West Africa in 2009;

22. Encourages the JPA to strengthen the role of its Committee on Political Affairs so as to make the Assembly a genuine forum for conflict prevention and resolution within the ACP-EU partnership and, to that end, to hold more debates on urgent situations in individual countries; welcomes the work carried out in connection with protecting civilians during peacekeeping operations and the intention to work on governance in the ACP countries;

23. Welcomes, further, the JPA Committee on Political Affairs report on experiences from the European regional integration process relevant to ACP countries – adopted in Ljubljana – which emphasises the key benefits of integration, such as peace and security, preventing potential conflicts from turning into armed ones, prosperity, well-being, democracy and respect for human rights;

24. Welcomes the JPA Committee on Economic Development, Finance and Trade's intention to conduct an analysis of the Regional Strategy Papers for the ACP regions;

25. Highlights the role played by the JPA Committee on Social Affairs and the Environment with regard to child labour and its intention to pursue its analysis of the social situation of young people in ACP countries;

26. Welcomes, further, the JPA Committee on Social Affairs and the Environment report on the social and environmental consequences of structural adjustment programmes – adopted in Ljubljana – which advocates that the practice of making World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) lending subject to economic policy conditions has had disastrous social and environmental consequences for ACP countries, and should be replaced by a country-specific lending policy that focuses on reducing poverty;

27. Calls on the JPA to demand to insist on being closely involved in the Cotonou Agreement revision process that is to commence in 2009, with a view to ensuring that the Assembly's role and activities are expanded in the future;

28. Welcomes the growing involvement of non-state actors in JPA sessions, as illustrated by the debate resulting in the adoption of the abovementioned Port Moresby Declaration on the current international crisis and by the economic partners' report on the EPAs submitted at the JPA session in Ljubljana;

29. Calls, in addition to the annual report on the activities of the ACP-EU JPA, for joint discussions to be held between the secretariats of the ACP countries and of the European Parliament on the way the JPA works, with particular regard to voting by separate Houses, equality of treatment of parliamentarians, and joint fact-finding and election observation missions;

30. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the ACP Council, the JPA Bureau and the governments and parliaments of Slovenia and Papua New Guinea.

  • [1]  OJ L 317, 15.12.2000, p. 3.
  • [2]  OJ C 231, 26.9.2003, p. 68.
  • [3]  ACP-EU/100.291/08/fin.
  • [4]  OJ L 378, 27.12.2006, p. 41.
  • [5]  OJ C 58, 1.3.2008, p. 44.
  • [6]  OJ C 271, 25.10.2008, p. 20.
  • [7]  OJ C 271, 25.10.2008, p. 27.
  • [8]  OJ C 271, 25.10.2008, p. 32.
  • [9]  OJ C 271, 25.10.2008, p. 37.
  • [10]  ACP-EU/100.291/08/fin.
  • [11]  ACP-EU/100.300/08/fin.
  • [12]  ACP-EU/100.247/08/fin.
  • [13]  ACP-EU/100.440/08/fin.
  • [14]  ACP-EU/100.439/08/fin.
  • [15]  APP 100.288.
  • [16]  APP 100.452.
  • [17]  APP 100.448.
  • [18]  IP/07/1957.



The Assembly met twice in 2008. The 15th session was held in Ljubljana (Slovenia) from 25 to 28 June and the 16th session was held in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) from 26 to 29 November. Nine resolutions and the Port Moresby Declaration on the global food and financial crises were adopted. Two joint delegation meetings were held during the year.

In the course of its proceedings, the assembly welcomed the Member of the Commission with responsibility for development and humanitarian aid and the successive Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Council. The French EU Presidency was, however, represented at the 16th session not by a minister, but by Mr Wilzer, a former minister. The Bureau voiced its regret at this in the abovementioned declaration of 25 November.

The following took part in the work of the Assembly: Mr France Cukjati, Speaker of the Slovene Parliament, Mr Puka Temu, Deputy Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, and Mr Hans‑Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament (by video message).

Standing committees

The standing committees met four times: twice alongside the sessions (in Ljubljana and Port Moresby) and twice (in Brussels) between sessions. The committees' main role is to draw up reports which are subsequently adopted at the plenary sessions (a total of six reports per year).

Moreover, the committees are responsible for following up resolutions by hearing the Commission officials with responsibility in the relevant areas. This provides an opportunity – and sufficient time – for in-depth dialogue on the action taken. Previously, such follow-up was carried out in plenary and was a mere formality.

Lastly, the committees have taken responsibility for issues of common interest in connection with implementation of the partnership agreement. They accordingly provide a forum for dialogue between European and ACP parliamentarians.

15th session in Ljubljana (Slovenia)

The 15th session of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly was held from 17 to 20 March 2008 in Ljubljana (Slovenia – the country holding the EU Council Presidency).

In addition to the reports by the standing committees, the session adopted a resolution on the situation in Kenya. There was a very constructive urgent debate on the situation in Chad, but no resolution was adopted. The workshops on disabled persons, rural tourism and minority rights in Slovenia all attracted a large number of participants and great interest.

16th session in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea)

The 16th session of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly was held from 26 to 29 November 2008 in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea).

The Assembly adopted the three resolutions contained in the reports by the standing committees and two urgent resolutions on the situation in Zimbabwe and the situation in Mauritania. Further to the 2002 Cape Town Declaration on EPAs and the Kigali Declaration on development-friendly EPAs, the JPA also adopted a declaration on the global food and financial crises.

The workshops provided an opportunity to hold discussions on a variety of subjects, such as the fishing industry, the situation in Bougainville and disease. Despite the efforts made by the local authorities, attendance at the workshops was disappointing; the JPA Bureau should lay down rules on the holding of workshops with a view to ensuring that they are a greater success in future.

Fact-finding and study missions (Article 27 of the Rules of Procedure)

The JPA undertook two fact-finding and study missions in 2008. The first, between 24 and 27 April, was to the Seychelles, to look into the fishing industry and its importance to the ACP countries. The second, between 29 May and 3 June, was to Surinam, Saint Vincent and Saint Lucia, to look into the sugar and banana sectors.

Future developments

Through the quality of its work, the JPA has succeeded in establishing itself as a key player in North-South cooperation.

Strengthening the parliamentary dimension of cooperation work is essential if funding is to be put to good use in meeting people’s needs and achieving the Millennium Development Goals for health and education. The Commission now subjects Country and Regional Strategy Papers to parliamentary scrutiny by both the European Parliament and the ACP countries' national parliaments. It is important for the Committee on Development and the JPA to monitor the situation and ensure that effective use if made of this means of parliamentary scrutiny.

The Assembly has played, and continues to play, a key role in monitoring the negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Hearings of the head negotiators on both sides, meetings with economic and social players (both at formal meetings and at events held alongside them) and interaction between European and southern parliamentarians have helped to make the process more transparent and have made it easier to take local issues into account. Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, there can be no doubt that the Assembly’s work has had a bearing on the process.

In 2009 the Commission and the ACP countries will open negotiations on a second revision of the Cotonou Agreement. In view of the regionalisation of the ACP group being brought about by the EPA process, it is important for the JPA to monitor developments extremely closely in order to ensure that it can survive and move forward as an institution.

The establishment of the African Union and the growing power of the PAP are without a doubt a challenge to ACP-EU cooperation and, consequently, to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. Cooperation between the European Parliament and the PAP began in 2007, and it is important for these relations to be taken into account in the JPA’s work.

Lastly, the third regional meeting of the JPA will be held in French Guiana in February 2009 with the Cariforum members of the JPA. The success of this meeting will be important in terms of the potential for setting up regional parliamentary assemblies in an EPA context. Such assemblies will need to come under the authority of the JPA. The JPA must monitor developments in this area extremely closely.


Date adopted





Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

Alessandro Battilocchio, Thijs Berman, Thierry Cornillet, Corina Creţu, Alexandra Dobolyi, Fernando Fernández Martín, Alain Hutchinson, Romana Jordan Cizelj, Filip Kaczmarek, Glenys Kinnock, Maria Martens, Emilio Menéndez del Valle, Gay Mitchell, Luisa Morgantini, José Javier Pomés Ruiz, José Ribeiro e Castro, Toomas Savi, Frithjof Schmidt, Jürgen Schröder, Feleknas Uca

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Miguel Angel Martínez Martínez, Manolis Mavrommatis, Renate Weber, Gabriele Zimmer