June 16, 2020
A series of virtual negotiation meetings held between the Organisation of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union (EU) more specifically the European Commission during the week of 8 through 12 June 2020 featured prominently the unilateral action of the EU and its publication of a listing of High-Level Third Risk Countries due to strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism regimes.
The negotiating meetings held between the OACPS and EU were towards concluding a New Partnership Agreement, also known as the Post Cotonou Agreement to replace the expired 20-year Agreement.
In his opening statement at the virtual 7th Meeting of OACPS-EU Chief Negotiators, the Chief Negotiator of the OACPS, the Honourable Robert Dussey, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration of the Republic of Togo drew attention to the action of the EU as being “counterproductive to the spirit of partnership and cooperation between the two entities particularly in light of the COVID-19 crisis”. He highlighted the lack of response from the EU to correspondence from the Secretary-General urging a postponement of the listing of countries and appealing for consultations with the countries concerned under the terms of the Partnership Agreement.
H. E. Maria O’Brien in her contribution during the virtual 9th OACPS meeting of Ministerial Chief Negotiating Group (CNG-M) urged member states to take concrete actions in denouncing the approach taken by the EU because it was not in the spirit of partnership and cooperation consistently promoted by the EU. An approach she cited as perpetuating inequality and systemic oppression of the developing countries identified with detrimental human and economic development consequences. Ambassador O’Brien drew attention to the total disregard of the EU to its commitment to dialogue, transparency and integrity as outlined in the terms of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.
The stark divergence and lack of coherent policy between EU entities were presented as evidence of a fragmented EU mechanism which internally needed to be addressed. She called on the OACPS member states during the negotiations of a new agreement to take stock of the lack of adherence by the EU to the current Agreement and ensure the inclusion of text concerning the “use of unilateral decisions and coercive and harmful measures”.
The negotiating meetings consisted of the 48th Meeting of OACPS Ambassadorial Chief Negotiation Group (CNG-A) held on 8 June 2020; Round 4-Session 12 of the Joint OACPS Ambassadorial level and EU Senior Officials Technical Negotiations on the New Partnership Agreement (ALSOM) held on 9 June 2020; the meeting of the 9th OACPS Ministerial Chief Negotiation Group (CNG-M) held on 11 June 2020, and the 7th Meeting of the OACPS-EU Chief Negotiators held on 12 June 2020.
The negotiations towards concluding the new partnership agreement are in its final stages with the OACPS and the EU anticipating that the negotiations would be completed by mid-July 2020. The signing of the New Partnership Agreement is expected to take place prior to the expiration of the transitional measures and before the end of 2020.