On the basis of the Cotonou agreement, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is mandated to organise consultation sessions and meetings of ACP-EU economic and social interest groups in order to voice these actors' views on the ACP-EU partnership and foster cooperation between civil society organisations.
Within this framework, the EESC organises regional seminars every year in one of the ACP regions.
This year, the EESC organised a regional seminar in Southern Africa (Namibia, Kenya) on 8-9 November 2018.
The EU signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) on 10 June 2016 with the SADC EPA Group comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. Angola has an option to join the agreement in future. The agreement became the first regional EPA in Africa to be fully operational after Mozambique joined in February 2018.
The other six members of the Southern African Development Community region – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe – are negotiating EPAs with the EU as part of other regional groups, namely Central Africa or Eastern and Southern Africa.
There were 3 main topics of discussion:
- The state of play the EU External Investment Plan. The External Investment Plan (EIP) is a new EU initiative launched in 2017. It is designed to attract more investment, in particular from businesses and private investors in countries near the EU ('EU Neighbourhood') and in Africa. The regional seminar was an opportunity to familarise CSOs with this new instrument.
- The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) between the EU and the Southern African Development Community: which role for civil society organisations? Now that the agreement is operational, how should civil society organisations involved in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation?
- The post-Cotonou agenda. What role for civil society? ACP and EU have started negotiations a new framework of cooperation between the EU and ACP countries; it is time to raise the profile of CSOs and their potential contribution. How can economic and social actors best contribute to the economic, cooperation and political pillars of the future agreement?
At the end of the seminar, a final declaration was adopted.