No "grand plans": EPG calls for "realistic, doable" targets for the future
The EPG is of the view that its report should avoid recommending grand plans that were unachievable, but should instead come up with realistic, doable and reachable targets for the ACP group to function in the future.
The 12-member Eminent Persons Group (EPG), assembled to advise on the future form and direction of the ACP as an organisation, will be lobbying Heads of States from the ACP regions in coming months for political commitment to the exercise.
“The EPG is of the view that its report should avoid recommending grand plans that were unachievable, but should instead come up with realistic, doable and reachable targets for the ACP group to function in the future,” said a progress report submitted to the ACP Council of Ministers meeting in Nairobi, Kenya 17-18 June.
Presented by EPG members Prof. Ibrahima Fall, a former UN Assistant Secretary General and Mr. Peter Gakunu, former Executive Director at the IMF, the report also noted that political buy-in to the strategies proposed by the EPG is vital for the success of the Group.
“Sustaining political will and commitment will only be achieved if there are common interests that can keep the ACP Group together,” they stated.
“One of the emerging conclusions drawn from various consultations with stakeholders is that there exists strong political will that the ACP Group should remain, but be reinvented in line with the new world paradigm, and focus on a few core and niche areas that the Group can deal with better than existing institutions.”
The ACP Group includes 79 member states from Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, originally brought together due to their historic relations with the European Community. Launched as an intergovernmental association in its own right in 1975, ACP members are party to a partnership framework with the European Union (“Cotonou Agreement”) that covers development finance, trade and political dialogue between the EU and ACP members.
With the Cotonou Agreement nearing its end date in 2020, there is uncertainty as to what the partnership will entail after that, and how the ACP Group, with its diverse membership, should conduct its business.
Since October 2013, the EPG has held consultations on the issue with officials (government and parliamentary), civil society and business communities of five of the six ACP regions, with Southern Africa left to complete. Likewise, talks with ACP ambassadors, EU officials and representatives from other international organisations were also carried out. A study was commissioned on the past failures and successes of the Group as an organisation since its inception as well as a mapping exercise of ACP trade globally. The EPG set up a drafting committee to review these and other material as part of the basis for the final recommendations.
The final report will be presented to the ACP Summit of Heads of State and Government scheduled for 6-7 November in Paramaribo, Suriname. The EPG is chaired by former President of Nigeria Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.