SME Chamber

Working close with the ACP countries

 GRTU DG and EESC Employers' representative has participated in the ACP-EU Regional Seminar of Economic and Social Interest Groups, organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Santo Domingo, on 5-6 July.

The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) is a group of countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific that was created by the Georgetown Agreement in 1975. The group's main objectives are sustainable development and poverty reduction within its member states, as well as their greater integration into the world's economy. All of the member states, except Cuba, are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement with the European Union.

The Cotonou Agreement (signed in Cotonou, Benin in June 2000) is the successor to the Lomé Conventions. One of the major differences from the Lomé Convention is that the partnership is extended to new actors such as civil society, private sector, trade unions and local authorities. These will be involved in consultations and planning of national development strategies, provided with access to financial resources and involved in the implementation of programmes.

During the meeting a commitment was made by Caribbean civil society organisations, together with the CARIFORUM Secretariat, a subgroup of ACP countries for economic dialogue with the EU. They made a commitment to define, before mid September 2012, the composition of the Caribbean side of the civil society Consultative Committee. The Caribbean civil society have said yes to more involvement in the EU-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement

Vincent Farrugia was active as a member of the EESC Anti-Poverty Committee and works on the EESC supportive mechanism for a more efficient and effective agenda for development cooperation and for the revision of the financing instruments and the review of the measurement of a country's progress in terms not only of GDP but also of improvements in human welfare and quality of life.

The Consultative Committee, encompassing economic, social and environmental aspects of relations between the EU and CARIFORUM is the only joint EU-CARIFORUM body in the EPA Agreement that has not yet been set up. The proposal on the composition will be presented to the EU-CARIFORUM Trade and Development Committee in September and will hopefully be adopted by the Joint EU-CARIFORUM Council in October 2012. This decision will make the Consultative Committee fully operational.

Discussions also addressed what the region can do to foster sustainable and inclusive growth. Ms Brenda King, President of the ACP-EU Follow-up Committee of the EESC, argued that "the transition to sustainable and inclusive growth needs the involvement of non-state-actors in order to be successful. This implies that democratic processes are in place and that a dialogue exists between non-state-actors and political decision makers".

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