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Procedure : 2018/2634(RSP)
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Thursday, 14 June 2018 - Strasbourg Final edition
Negotiations for a new EU-ACP Partnership Agreement

European Parliament resolution of 14 June 2018 on the upcoming negotiations for a new Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (2018/2634(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000 (the Cotonou Agreement), and to its revisions of 2005 and 2010(1),

–  having regard to the Georgetown Agreement of 1975 setting up the ACP Group, and to its revision of 1992(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 October 2016 on the future of ACP-EU relations beyond 2020(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2016 on increasing the effectiveness of development cooperation(4),

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation of 12 December 2017 for a Council Decision authorising the opening of negotiations on a Partnership Agreement between the European Union and countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (COM(2017)0763),

–  having regard to the joint communication from the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 22 November 2016 on a renewed partnership with the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (JOIN(2016)0052),

–  having regard to the joint consultation paper of the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 6 October 2015 entitled ‘Towards a new partnership between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries after 2020’ (JOIN(2015)0033),

–  having regard to the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development and the outcome document adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015 entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, and to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),

–  having regard to the joint statement of 7 June 2017 by Parliament, the Council, the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, and the Commission on the New European Consensus on Development – Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future,

–  having regard to the opinions of the European Economic and Social Committee of 7 December 2017 on a renewed partnership with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, and of 12 May 2016 on the future of the EU’s relations with the ACP Group of countries,

–  having regard to the 7th and 8th Summits of ACP Heads of State and Government held in Malabo (13-14 December 2012) and Port Moresby (4 May 2016) respectively,

–  having regard to the 103rd and 105th ACP-EU Joint Council of Ministers meetings held in Dakar (26-27 April 2016) and Brussels (3-4 May 2017) respectively,

–  having regard to the EU-African Union Summit held in Abidjan on 29-30 November 2017,

–  having regard to the report of the ACP Eminent Persons Group of March 2016 on the future of the ACP beyond 2020,

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 October 2015 on the role of local authorities in developing countries in development cooperation(5),

–  having regard to the declaration of the 8th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government of the ACP Group of States of 1 June 2016,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 February 2015 on the work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly(6) and to the resolutions adopted by the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly,

–  having regard to the declaration of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly of 21 December 2016 on the parliamentary dimension of the post-Cotonou ACP-EU relations(7),

–  having regard to the statement by the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly of 9 December 2015 on the future of ACP-EU relations(8),

–  having regard to Articles 208 and 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 13 April 2016 on Better Law-Making,

–  having regard to the questions to the Council and the Commission on the upcoming negotiations for a new Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (O-000043/2018 – B8‑0025/2018 and O-000044/2018 – B8‑0026/2018),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on Development,

–  having regard to Rules 128(5) and 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the strength and acquis of the Cotonou Agreement are based on a number of unique characteristics, such as its legally binding nature, its comprehensiveness – with its three pillars of development cooperation, political cooperation, and economic and trade cooperation – and its large budget in the form of the European Development Fund (EDF);

B.  whereas the ACP-EU partnership has played an important role in progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), despite the EU’s failure to reach the objective of allocating 0,7 % of its gross national income (GNI) to official development assistance (ODA);

C.  whereas the ACP-EU partnership has made a significant contribution to the eradication of poverty, to the integration of ACP States into the global economy, and as a more effective global player in multilateral trade and climate negotiations;

D.  whereas the ACP-EU partnership has improved market access for ACP States and EU Member States and promoted greater mutual understanding of positions, values and norms through political dialogue among them;

E.  whereas although the ACP-EU partnership contributed greatly to the advancement of the MDGs, progress towards the objectives of poverty eradication and integration of ACP States into the world economy has been insufficient to date, given that half the ACP States are still among the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) and that together they account for less than 5 % of global trade and around 2 % of global GDP;

F.  whereas the establishment of the African Union, the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, the Joint Caribbean-EU Partnership Strategy and the EU-Pacific Strategy exemplify the EU’s increasingly regional approach to addressing issues of common interest and concern, such as peace and security, terrorism and migration;

G.  whereas peace, security and political stability are prerequisites for sustainable development;

H.  whereas the common foundation and regional compacts must take into account regional and continental specificities, in line with the principles of subsidiarity and complementarity;

I.  whereas the ACP has identified three pillars for negotiation, namely:

   Trade, investment and services,
   Development cooperation, science and technology, and research and innovation,
   Political dialogue and advocacy;

J.  whereas political dialogue on essential elements, as referred to in Articles 8 and 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, is a concrete and legal means of upholding the common values of the ACP-EU partnership and promoting democracy, good governance and human rights, which are fundamental for sustainable development;

K.  whereas there is a clear need to ensure that human rights conditionality is maintained and political dialogue strengthened in the new agreement;

L.  whereas, despite the clear recognition of the role of national parliaments, local authorities, civil society and the private sector in the 2010 revision of the Cotonou Agreement, their participation in deliberations on ACP-EU policies and activities, including in programming, follow-up and evaluation processes, has been limited;

M.  whereas political dialogue has largely been used at a late stage of political crises and not as a preventative measure;

N.  whereas civil society organisations are facing increasingly restrictive legislation and other obstacles that limit their activities and space;

O.  whereas technical capacity in many ACP states for handling matters in the area of taxation is a constraint on both domestic revenue mobilisation and participation in international tax cooperation;

P.  whereas the EDF is financed through direct contributions from EU Member States and is not subject to normal EU budgetary rules; whereas Parliament does not have any power over the EDF budget other than in granting discharge for disbursements already made, nor does it have formal scrutiny rights over EDF programming;

Q.  whereas the reinforcement of the parliamentary dimension of the ACP-EU partnership and the strengthening of its consultative role should be key elements of the new partnership;

R.  whereas the frequency and variety of ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) meetings has enabled consistent dialogue between the European Parliament and ACP Members, thus consolidating its legitimacy and strengthening parliamentary diplomacy; whereas the JPA has been used as a model of parliamentary diplomacy in various political fora;

1.  Welcomes the main aspects and overall architecture of future cooperation between the ACP Group of States and the European Union proposed by the Commission in its recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the opening of negotiations on a future Partnership Agreement;

2.  Insists that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDGs and the European Consensus on Development must be at the heart of the renewed ACP-EU partnership;

3.  Welcomes the fact that attainment of the SDGs is considered a key objective, but regrets the lack of concrete implementation measures in the proposed compacts; stresses the need to mainstream cross-cutting issues such as environmental sustainability, climate change objectives, gender issues and social justice into all policies, plans and interventions across the future agreement;

4.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission’s proposal for a new partnership agreement is open to external partners;

5.  Recalls that the very first SDG is the eradication of poverty, which remains a key problem in most ACP States; stresses, therefore, that the fight against poverty must remain a central element of the future agreement;

6.  Notes that the Commission has largely taken into account Parliament’s view and that the common foundation and regional compacts will be legally binding to an equal extent, as requested by Parliament;

7.  Recalls that the future partnership agreement will include the principles of equity, mutual respect and mutual interest;

8.  Insists that the essential elements of the Cotonou Agreement – respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, democratic principles and the rule of law, and good governance – be maintained as the basis for cooperation post-2020 and be part and parcel of the foundation agreement and the regional compacts and protocols; calls on the Commission and the Council to explicitly include, in the human rights part of the mandate, freedom from discrimination on grounds of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as sexual and reproductive health and rights, as set out in the 1995 Beijing Platform of Action and the outcomes of the review conferences;

9.  Stresses the need to address the question of human rights and governance on the basis of existing international legal instruments, laws, principles and mechanisms established by regional and pan-African governance bodies, with a view to strengthening ownership;

10.  Recalls that the future partnership between ACP States and EU Member States must incorporate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and should contribute to its implementation at all levels;

11.  Calls on EU and ACP negotiators to include in the common foundation part of the agreement a clear provision on the full implementation by all parties of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;

12.  Insists on the need to ensure coherence between the principles laid down in the common foundation and the regional priorities defined in the compacts, and stresses that the foundation should include explicit reference to accountability, monitoring and review mechanisms in the case of non-compliance; underlines that the accountability of the parties towards citizens and civil society should also be ensured, and that the joint institutions should provide for mechanisms to enable civil society and citizens to report cases of breaches of human rights obligations and other essential elements;

13.  Reiterates to all parties to the negotiations that political dialogue is a fundamental part of the Cotonou Agreement and that it must remain a central and legal pillar in the overarching framework and at the regional level of the new agreement;

14.  Underlines that political dialogue is an integral part of the partnership and a valuable basis for improving the situation of the peoples of the partner countries; calls, therefore, for improved monitoring of the human rights situation in these countries and stresses that monitoring must be inclusive, transparent and participatory; stresses the importance of ensuring meaningful involvement of civil society in the dialogue at all levels;

15.  Recalls that the political dialogue must be balanced and based on mutual respect;

16.  Stresses that EU and ACP cooperation should provide for a peer review mechanism for monitoring progress and gaps in implementing the SDGs on a regular basis, involving parliaments, local authorities and civil society, and regular evaluation of and public reporting on respect for human rights and other essential elements; believes that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs requires legitimacy, proximity, subsidiarity and a high level of participation by local authorities and non-state actors if it is to be effective; calls for better communication and dialogue in order to deepen the relationship between ACP and EU countries;

17.  Reiterates that Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) constitute a basis for regional cooperation and are instruments for development and regional integration; calls, therefore, for their full integration into the new ACP-EU Agreement;

18.  Calls for the enhancement of the political clout of the ACP-EU partnership on the global scene, so that partners can be more effective global players;

19.  Calls for clear provisions in the future agreement that regulate the role and responsibilities of the private sector; stresses, in particular, the need for enterprises involved in development partnerships to abide by the principles of corporate social responsibility throughout the lifecycle of projects, including by respecting the UN Global Compact, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the International Labour Organisation core labour standards, environmental standards and the UN Convention Against Corruption; highlights the need for both EU and ACP states to draw up national plans to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the due diligence provisions in particular;

20.  Recalls that the mobilisation of domestic resources through taxation is the most important source of revenue for financing sustainable development; regrets that measures to combat illicit financial flows and tax evasion are not given a prominent place in the draft mandate; calls on the negotiating parties to include in the new agreement ambitious provisions on financial and technical assistance to developing countries to cope with emerging global standards on fighting tax evasion, including the automatic exchange of information, information on beneficial ownership of companies and on public country-by-country reporting of multinationals to stop base erosion and profit shifting, based on G20 and OECD models; calls on the parties, furthermore, to commit to supporting the creation of a legally binding UN intergovernmental body on tax cooperation;

21.  Regrets that the draft negotiating mandate envisions no provisions on ensuring a sustainable development dimension for agriculture, despite the huge challenges faced by ACP farmers as a result of climate change; calls on the negotiating parties to include support schemes for sustainable agricultural practices in the new agreement;

22.  Calls for increased civil society involvement in political dialogue, programming and implementation and support for capacity-building by civil society; underlines the importance of involving civil society in the political dialogue, particularly in the case of local groups directly affected by policies; underlines, in this regard, the threat of shrinking space for civil society in some countries and the need to include groups such as minorities, young people and women that are unable to organise their interests or that are not recognised by their government despite a legitimate democratic interest;

23.  Stresses that the engagement of civil society should be built around recognition of the different roles it plays, and that its role as a fully-fledged actor in the agreement should be scaled up;

24.  Underlines that the principles of effective development cooperation need to be fully incorporated into the new ACP-EU partnership agreement and that provisions to ensure country ownership, a focus on results, the inclusiveness of the development process, transparency and mutual accountability must be cornerstones of the agreement and the regional protocols; underlines the need to ensure a geographically balanced approach to aid allocation with a substantial focus on least developed and fragile states; considers that making aid allocation conditional on cooperation with the EU on migration issues is not compatible with agreed development effectiveness principles;

25.  Stresses that the renewed EU and ACP cooperation/partnership should ensure more effective joint action to tackle the various challenges facing the world today, such as combating terrorism and organised crime;

26.  Reiterates that the future agreement must provide an opportunity to enhance commitments and respect for policy coherence for development (PCD), and should include mechanisms to systematically monitor PCD; recalls, in this regard, the role played by the EU delegations in the promotion of PCD and stresses the need for them to conduct dialogues on a regular basis at country level;

27.  Underlines the importance of crowding in private sector investment, facilitating the long-term development of local capital markets and levering limited ODA budgets to maximise impact and finance the SDGs;

28.  Reiterates the importance of strengthening the parliamentary dimension of the future agreement, guaranteeing real consultative power for the future overarching JPA and ensuring that it provides for open, democratic and comprehensive parliamentary dialogue; requests that its legal and operational autonomy be guaranteed; demands that the JPA be closely associated with the implementation of the agreement and regularly consulted in all matters of importance to the partnership; believes that the JPA should be fully involved in the negotiations for the future partnership;

29.  Calls for further efforts to improve JPA scrutiny of development programming;

30.  Is convinced that regular meetings are needed, at least annually, at ACP-EU level to ensure the continuity and stability of the partnership and to allow for regular reporting on, and peer reviews of, progress towards the SDGs and respect for human rights and other essential elements of the agreement, as called for by Parliament;

31.  Recommends, therefore, that the JPA be aligned with the new regional structure, keeping the focus on the work in the regional fora and closely involving the national and regional parliaments; considers that the ACP-EU Council and the JPA should meet regularly, but less frequently than at present, in plenary session, in the EU and an ACP State alternately, but that the session should not be dependent on the Council being convened; calls on the EU Member State holding the EU Council presidency to involve itself more deeply in the preparation, organisation and hosting of JPA sessions;

32.  Requests that meetings between EU and ACP Members of Parliament at the level of the regional compacts be held at least once a year in each region and be complemented by a multi-stakeholder forum involving non-state actors, including civil society, young people and the private sector;

33.  Is convinced that the Pan-African Parliament needs to become a strong pillar within the future EU-Africa compact, notably vis-à-vis and alongside the future EU-Africa council; calls, in this respect, on the Commission and its ACP counterparts to publish textual proposals on the parliamentary dimension and role of the Pan-African Parliament at an early stage of the negotiations and to consult with the Pan-African Parliament and the European Parliament respectively in this regard;

34.  Recalls that Parliament must be kept informed fully and immediately at all stages of the negotiating procedure, in line with Article 218(10) TFEU, and reiterates the need to agree on improved practical arrangements for cooperation and information sharing throughout the full life-cycle of international agreements; invites the Council and the Commission, furthermore, to inform the JPA fully and promptly about the negotiations;

35.  Calls on the Council of the European Union to publish the mandate as adopted by the Council; calls on the ACP Group of States to do likewise for its mandate.

36.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the ACP Council, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the African Union Commission, the Pan-African Parliament and the Bureau of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0371.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0437.
(5) OJ C 349, 17.10.2017, p. 11.
(6) OJ C 310, 25.8.2016, p. 19.
(7) OJ C 170, 30.5.2017, p. 36.

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