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EU and Pacific countries discussing new assistance and cooperation agreement

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European Union is currently undertaking discussions in the Pacific on the replacement for the Cotonou Agreement with the African Caribbean and Pacific group of countries, outlining EU’s commitments in terms of development and other assistance it provides to the members of the ACP, including 14 Pacific nations, reports RNZ.

The Cotonou Agreement was signed in June 2000 and lapses in 2020.

The EU’s Post-Cotonou High Level Facilitator, Pascal Lamy, is touring the region to gauge views on what should be in the new document.

“I think, at least on the EU side, and I am helping the EU frame what this future EU/ACP arrangement should be, I think on the side of the EU we are quite eager to renew this partnership, which as you said lapses in 2020, for a variety of reasons which have to do with the global presence of the European Union, with its commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals within which we can have a lot of co-operation with these Pacific countries, especially given the prominence issues like climate change, ocean sustainability now have, whereas they hadn’t that importance 20 years ago when the previous agreement, Cotonou, was negotiated,” Pascal Lamy said.

“So the question for the EU is not whether or not we should have a partnership with the Pacific countries in the future, but what are the priorities. What is our agenda and it is not an EU agenda that has to be imposed on them, it is a partnership. What sort of role should third players, like New Zealand, like Australia, like French overseas territories and countries play. So these are the questions that I am here to investigate, listening mostly to the Pacific islands themselves.”

“It is a complex situation. I think it will stabilise in the future and this is not the priority of the EU Pacific partnership in the future. The priority is more to do with environment resilience, with proper sustainable exploitation of marine resources, fisheries, agriculture, which are things that could really matter for the region. I am convinced that in the world 20 years from now oceans will matter more than today, and they matter more today than they mattered yesterday. And the Pacific, not least because of Chinese ambitions, Japanese ambitions, Korean ambitions, the Pacific will matter more as a geopolitical challenge than it does today. Add to that climate change, where there is an obvious priority to Pacific countries. They may be only 10 million [people], which is not that much, but the vulnerability and the fragility of this 10 million is such that it has got a prominent importance on the international agenda.”

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