The ACP Group consists of 79 Member-States, all of them, except Cuba, signatories to Cotonou Agreement which binds them to the European Union. Member states include 48 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, 16 from the Caribbean and 15 from the Pacific.

The ACP Secretariat

Headquarters Agreement

The Secretariat is responsible for the administrative management of the ACP Group. It assists the Group’s decision-making and advisory organs in carrying out their work.

The ACP Secretariat’s headquarters is located in Brussels (Belgium). It is headed by an Executive Secretary-General who is responsible for implementing the Group’s international policy, as well as directing and coordinating its cooperation policy. The Secretariat, under the direction of the ACP Group’s policy-making organs (Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government, Council of Ministers, Committee of Ambassadors), is responsible for:

carrying out the tasks assigned it by the Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government, Council of Ministers, Committee of Ambassadors and the ACP Parliamentary Assembly;

contributing to the implementation of the decisions of these organs;

monitoring the implementation of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement;

assisting the ACP organs and joint institutions created in the framework of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreements.

acting on proposals from the Committee of Ambassadors, the Council of Ministers determines the structure of the ACP Secretariat and lays down its Staff Regulations.

The Secretary-General is responsible for recruiting staff for the ACP Secretariat, an exercise which is based solely on the competence of the candidates. Nevertheless, the Secretary-General ensures, as much as possible, that a balance is maintained among the different ACP regions, as reflected in the recruitment statistics.

The Council of Ministers determines the ACP Secretariat’s financial regulations and approves its budget. Each ACP State contributes to financing the budget in conformity with the provisions laid down by the Council of Ministers.

The Secretary-General

Roles and Duties :

The Council of Ministers appoints the Secretary-General as the principal authority at the ACP Secretariat, on the basis of merit, competence and integrity. He is appointed for a five-year term and is the Secretariat’s designated representative.

The Secretary-General is responsible for:

ensuring the quality of the technical and administrative support and services provided by the Secretariat to the members and organs of the ACP Group ;

managing staff, projects and programmes ;

implementing the Group’s international policy, as well as directing and coordinating its cooperation policy.

Trade, Development Finance, Political Issues on Agenda for ACP Ministers

Brussels, 21 April 2016/ ACP: Ministers representing African, Caribbean and Pacific countries will take key decisions when they gather next week in Dakar, Senegal to address sustainable economic development, trade and political issues in ACP countries.

The Prime Minister of Senegal H.E. Mohammed Dionne will open the 103rd session of the ACP Council of Ministers on Tuesday 26th April. The three day programme from 25th to 27th April, will include preparatory meetings of the Development Finance Committee, ministerial consultations on commodities (sugar, cotton, bananas), and the plenary session chaired by the Minister of Planning and Integration of the Republic of Congo H.E Leon Raphaël Mokoko.

The ACP Council of Ministers will lead into the 41st session of the ACP-EU Joint Council of Ministers from 28th to 29th April, which will be officially opened by the President of Senegal, H.E. Macky Sall.

The agenda of the ACP Council of Ministers includes the following topics:

Trade & Economic Partnership Agreements

The latest information on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between ACP regions and the EU will be presented. So far, only the Caribbean region has signed and ratified a comprehensive regional EPA agreement with the EU, while a number of countries are already implementing interim EPAs individually. Negotiations have concluded for members of the West African region, East African Community, and the Southern African Development Community–EPA Group, which are now undergoing signature processes. Meanwhile, outstanding issues remain for the Central African, Pacific and greater Eastern and Southern Africa regions.

The deadline of 1 October 2016 has been set by the European Union for the EPAs to be signed and ratified, otherwise countries will be at risk of losing their duty-free, quota-free (DFQF) access to European markets (except for Least Developed Countries, which will still have DFQF access under another scheme known as ‘Everything But Arms’).

On other trade matters, ministers will be updated on plans for ACP participation at the Fourteenth session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIV) in Nairobi, Kenya from the 17th to 22nd July 2016, as well as the way forward after the 10th Ministerial Conference of the WTO last December.

Commodities

Discussions will address current and forecast effects of the EU sugar regime reform and trade policies for ACP sugar suppliers to the EU market, Accompanying Measures Support for former Sugar Protocol countries, and impacts of the ACP Sugar Research Programme. On cotton, Ministers will deliberate on the status of the cotton dossier at the WTO and outlook for the future, as well as the implementation of the Support Programme for the Consolidation of the Framework for Action for the EU-Africa Partnership on Cotton. The implementation of the Accompanying Measures for Bananas, the situation of international markets and market access for banana-producing ACP countries will also be discussed.

The Council of Ministers will also consider elements for the new ACP integrated approach to the commodities sector, in particular, Senegal’s experience of financing the support for agricultural commodities sector.

Development Finance

The Council of Ministers will discuss key amendments proposed for Annex II and III of the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement, leading up to joint discussions on these issues at the ACP-EU Joint Council meeting later in the week. Annex II Chapter 3 of the Cotonou Agreement has to do with financing for short-term fluctuations in export earnings of ACP countries; Annex III pertains to support for the two joint ACP-EU technical institutions, in particular the Centre for Development Enterprise (CDE). With the closure of CDE, a new joint text on a new mechanism for private sector support is expected to be adopted by the Joint Council.

Preparations for the 8th Summit of Heads of State and Government

The Council of Ministers will be updated on the preparations for the 8th ACP Summit scheduled for the 30th May to 1st June in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The ACP Summit of Heads of State of Government, which met last in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in December 2012, is the supreme governing organ of the ACP Group of States.

Under the theme “Repositioning the ACP Group to respond to the challenges of Sustainable Development”, leaders of ACP countries will address three key topics: Equitable and sustainable development for ACP peoples; Strengthening the role of the ACP Group in global governance for development; and Peace, security and political stability as prerequisites for development. The Summit will also consider the final report of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), chaired by former President of Nigeria Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on the future orientations of the ACP Group.

Future of the ACP Group and future of ACP-EU relations

Following a presentation by one of the members of the Eminent Persons Group, Prof. Ibrahima Fall, on key elements of the EPG Final Report, Ministers will exchange views on the future position of the ACP Group as a collective and effective force. The EPG report is based on more than two years of work, including open consultations held in all six ACP regions, and various other meetings and research. The full report will be submitted for consideration and adoption to the 8th ACP Summit with recommendations covering key areas such as organisational vision and strategic areas of action, relations with the EU, governance system, financing model, and implementation strategy.

Ministers will also discuss the outlook for ACP-EU relations. The current partnership between the ACP countries and the European Union, the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, comes to an end in 2020. Formal negotiations on the follow ACP-EU Partnership framework are expected to begin in 2017/2018.

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8th ACP Summit, 30th May to 1st June in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

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