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PV 24/03/2009 - 4.10
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Tuesday, 24 March 2009 - Strasbourg
The work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in 2008

European Parliament resolution of 24 March 2009 on the work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in 2008 (2008/2303(INI))

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(6), 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(7),
   on experiences from the European regional integration process relevant to ACP countries(8),
   on food security issues in ACP countries and the role of ACP-EU cooperation(9),
   on the situation in Kenya(10),
   on the protection of civilians during peacekeeping operations by the UN and regional organisations(11),
   on aid effectiveness and defining official development assistance(12),
   on the social consequences of child labour and strategies to combat child labour(13),
   on the situation in Mauritania(14),
   on the situation in Zimbabwe(15),

–   having regard to the Windhoek Communiqué of the JPA adopted on 29 April 2008 in Windhoek (Namibia)(16),

–   having regard to the Port Vila Communiqué of the JPA adopted on 1 December 2008 in Port Vila (Vanuatu)(17),

–   having regard to the JPA Bureau declaration of 25 November 2008 on the French EU Presidency(18),

–   having regard to the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid signed on 18 December 2007(19),

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

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

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

B.   whereas the above-mentioned 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, has been adopted,

C.   whereas the Commissioner with responsibility for development and humanitarian aid gave an undertaking at the JPA session which took place 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 as an institution,

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 above-mentioned Windhoek and Port Vila communiqués,

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

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.   whereas excellent contributions were made by the EU Presidency-in-Office (Slovenia) and the Government of Papua New Guinea to the above-mentioned JPA sessions in Ljubljana and Port Moresby,

K.   whereas study visits were 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 (Caribbean Forum of States) 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 above-mentioned 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 above-mentioned 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 International Criminal Court 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 solution 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 in March 2008 – 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, furthermore, 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 above-mentioned Port Moresby Declaration of November 2008 on the global food and financial crises and by the economic partners' report on the EPAs submitted at the JPA session in Ljubljana in March 2008;

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 61, 16.3.2009, p. 42.
(7) OJ C 271, 25.10.2008, p. 20.
(8) OJ C 271, 25.10.2008, p. 27.
(9) OJ C 271, 25.10.2008, p. 32.
(10) OJ C 271, 25.10.2008, p. 37.
(11) OJ C 61, 16.3.2009, p. 19.
(12) OJ C 61, 16.3.2009, p. 26.
(13) OJ C 61, 16.3.2009, p. 31.
(14) OJ C 61, 16.3.2009, p. 37.
(15) OJ C 61, 16.3.2009, p. 40.
(16) APP 100.288.
(17) APP 100.452.
(18) APP 100.448.
(19) Joint Statement by the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission, entitled "the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid" (OJ C 25, 30.1.2008, p. 1).

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