On 22 November, participants in the 17th regional seminar of ACP-EU economic and social interest groups adopted a declaration highlighting the potential of the blue economy as a key factor for development in many eastern and southern African countries. The event, hosted by the EESC in Mauritius, was also an opportunity for civil society representatives to call for a greater role for civil society in the negotiation of Economic Partnership Agreements and bilateral Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements (SFPAs) and to acknowledge the role played by African and EU economic and social groups in the development of infrastructure.
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Since the 1970s, the EESC has been organising regular meetings with economic and social interest groups from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). These meetings provide an opportunity to draft recommendations on issues relevant to ACP-EU relations.
The Cotonou Agreement will govern relations between the EU and 78 ACP countries until 2020; it recognises the essential role played by non-state operators in the development process. This Agreement allows the EESC to organise meetings and consultation with ACP-EU economic and social interest groups.
The EESC maintains regular contacts with the representatives of civil society in the ACP countries at different levels through:
- Regular meetings of the ACP-EU Follow-Up Committee, composed of EESC members and representatives of ACP economic and social interest groups,
- Regional Seminars in ACP countries, providing a forum for discussing topics of common interest with civil society representatives in alternating regions,
- Triennial General Meetings of ACP-EU economic and social interest groups in Brussels.
The EESC also maintains regular contacts with the African Union's Economic, Social and Cultural Council.
The EESC has for many years kept up regular contacts with the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly by presenting a report on its activities at the Assembly's sessions.
The EESC is likewise in close contact with international employers', workers', farmers' and consumers' organisations. These organisations nominate the ACP representatives invited to the meetings held by the EESC, including the ACP-EU Follow-up Committee.
Speech of Ms Brenda King - EESC Member during the 35th Joint ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.