Leaders convening in Papua New Guinea for the 8th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government outlined a new outlook for the Group, based on deliberations on the Final Report of the ACP Eminent Persons Group (EPG), as well as the Report by the Council of Ministers to Summit.
The Summit accepted the EPG report, with an implementation plan expected by the end of 2016, subject to further analysis at national and regional levels.
“The Summit adopted the Port Moresby Declaration that captures the main outcomes of the leaders’ discussions, and the Waigani Communiqué that sets the way forward for the future of the ACP Group beyond the expiry of the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2020… I believe this Summit has inspired us to take the giant steps in our approach that will shape and transform the ACP Group into a more dynamic force,” stated the President of the 8th ACP Summit, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Rt. Hon. Peter O’Neill (pictured).
The Waigani Communiqué reaffirmed the vision that the ACP Group take a lead role in efforts to improve the living standards of its citizens through good governance, promoting trade and investment particularly at the intra-ACP level, entrepreneurship and building capacity in the private sector, access to technology, and South-South, North-South and Triangular Cooperation.
Noting the ‘urgent need for reform’ in the organisation, leaders discussed how to streamline the Group’s mandate to be more results-oriented and people-focused. This includes restructuring of the Brussels-based ACP Secretariat.
The Summit also agreed on the need for the Group to work towards improving financial self-sufficiency, including the establishment of a Long Term Endowment Fund.
“While building consensus amongst 79 member countries can be a challenge, there is a clear and compelling need for an organisation that promotes the interests of developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries, Small Islands Developing States, and Landlocked Developing Countries, which make up the bulk of the ACP membership.
“Common needs concerning trade and development, climate change, and access to energy and technology can be addressed together, building on each others’ expertise and knowledge and pushing for the same causes at the global level,” said Assistant Secretary General of the ACP Group in charge of Political Affairs and Human Development, Amb. Léonard Ognimba.
Post-Cotonou ACP-EU relations
A key concern for the ACP Group is the upcoming negotiations on the follow up partnership framework with the European Union. Current relations between African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the EU bloc in terms of trade, political dialogue and development cooperation, are governed by the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement. As the expiration of the Agreement approaches in 2020, negotiations to shape a post-Cotonou partnership are expected to begin in 2018.
The Summit expressed its determination to renew and enhance the ACP-EU partnership with a legally-binding agreement, building on the experience and gains obtained under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.
The Summit resolved to jointly identify issues of common interest with EU partners to ensure that the ACP-EU cooperation takes into account the implementation of SDGs, promotion of regional trade and integration, financing for development, and other identified priorities.
At the same time, ACP leaders committed to jointly exploring additional forms of development finance such as public-private partnerships, domestic resource mobilisation, and the reduction and recovery of illicit financial flows from ACP countries.
Outcomes of the meeting will be forwarded to the United Nations Secretary General, the President of the European Council, ACP regional integration organisations, as well as other international bodies and all development partners.