Analysis the role of organised civil society in the new EU-Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific (OEACP) agreement, including the situation of the EPAs in this framework

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EESK atzinums: Analysis the role of organised civil society in the new EU-Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific (OEACP) agreement, including the situation of the EPAs in this framework

Practical information

  1. Composition of the Study Group
  2. Administrator / Assistant in charge: Cedric CABANNE / Elisabete DIAS

Background

On 3rd December 2020, the EU and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) concluded a deal, which aims to renew the 2000-2021 Cotonou Partnership Agreement.

The future partnership between the EU and the OACPS States shall be centred on common objectives: Human rights, democracy and governance, Peace and security, Human and social development, Environmental feasibility and climate change, Inclusive economic growth & development, Migrations and mobility.

The partnership will be based on a common foundation, sets out in a global protocol setting out the strategic framework of the Agreement, in addition to three specific regional protocols: EU‑African, EU-Caribbean and EU-Pacific as well as its impact of current Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) negotiated and implemented with the sub-regions.

The own-initiative opinion will analyse the role of the organised civil society (OSC) and social partners in the new Partnership between the EU and the OACPS.

The first objective of this own-initiative opinion is to analyse the possible involvement of civil society and social partners in the institutional framework mentioned above, i.e. the global strategic protocol and the regional protocols (EU-Africa, EU-Caribbean and EU-Pacific).

The second objective is to understand the place of the current Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) developed with sub-regions in the new OACPS framework. In the context of the operational implementation of the Post–Cotonou Partnership, EPAs play an extremely important role. The own-initiative opinion will provide recommendations regarding further development of EPAs and concerning the structural involvement of the organised civil society and the social partners in the EPAs.

The opinion will address the challenges and opportunities, in all its dimensions, that organised civil society and the social partners of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States will have in this new framework as OACPS framework, which prominently speaks about the role of civil society but does not provides for mechanisms enabling civil society to fulfil its role.

Finally, the own-initiative opinion will anticipate the transversal and regional structured activities that can be designed to pursue the activities of the ACP-EU Follow-up Committee in the new framework.

Key Points

The EESC:

  • Broadly supports the new Agreement and hopes that it can be signed swiftly by the parties, whom it commends for their great efforts and the significant commitments made using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a reference framework.
  • Points out that civil society organisations/the social partners have legally regulated institutional mechanisms carrying out formal activities, in which civil society organisations (practising civil dialogue) and the social partners (conducting civil dialogue) participate, regardless of what they are called (economic, social and cultural committees, consultative councils, forums, platforms, CSO networks, standing conferences or other types), in order to contribute to public and democratic debate.
  • Proposes that the Commission sets as an objective the establishment of four institutional mechanisms, namely: the first one, between the EU and the OACPS; the second, between the EU and Africa; the third, between the EU and the Caribbean, and, the fourth, between the EU and the Pacific.
  • Also proposes to the Commission that consultative committees be created in the EPAs.
  • Strongly advocates that the Commission put financial instruments in place to support programmes and study and foresight projects focusing on the situation for civil society organisations/social partners in the ACP states, taking into account their needs in terms of empowering leaders, their technical robustness, and the implementation of the planned institutional mechanisms.
  • Strongly urges the Commission to support the work of the EESC's EU-ACP Follow-up Committee, which is the only institutional mechanism that currently exists under the new EU‑OACPS Agreement and which will have an enhanced role in this process, particularly through structured dialogue, in order to: (i) provide the institutions with relevant reports, projects and opinions; (ii) encourage the involvement of stakeholders from the ACP states (iii) contribute to the establishment of planned institutional mechanisms.