ACP-EU Assembly

Despite economic difficulties, efforts must continue to help the ACP countries according to the co-chair of the Assembly Louis Michel

The Joint Assembly of MEPs and their counterparts from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries is focussing its discussions this week on the consequences of the Arab Spring in Sub-Saharan Africa, the impact of indebtedness on development aid and the food crisis in the Horn of Africa. The resolutions will be adopted on Wednesday.

Democracy, transparency, security

Referring to an urgent resolution on the consequences of the Arab Spring scheduled for adoption by the Assembly, he stressed that difficulties should not be used as a pretext for reducing aid and that the democratic aspirations of the people must not be opposed.

Democracy had progressed in a spectacular way in West Africa in recent years, said Mr Michel. However, he underlined that democratic transitions were extremely fragile and rarely linear and it was essential that elections should always meet the criteria of transparency.

Mr Michel pointed to Somalia’s political and security problems, which must be addressed seriously in order to prevent the problems from spilling over to other countries, such as Kenya.

No more lawless zones

Faure Gnassingbé, President of the host country Togo, stressed that the establishment of a “lawless zone”, similar to that in Somalia, must be prevented in the Gulf of Guinea and in the Sahel area.

He said that the activites of the International Criminal Court should be considered “transitional” and every country had to reinforce its judiciary so that it had the capacity to convict those found guilty.

The Acting Co-President of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Assarid Ag Imbarcaouane of Mali, drew attention to the worsening piracy situation in the Gulf of Guinea. He also urged the EU to dismantle its subsidies for European cotton producers when reforming its agricultural policy, so to avoid unfair competition with ACP cotton producers.

Proliferation of weapons

In his speech, the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, listed food security, drought, infrastructure, access to drinking water, democratic governance and the prevention of the proliferation of weapons following the events in Libya amongst the most important issues to be addressed.

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