human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Towards a new EU-ACP partnership

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The Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which serves as a framework for the relations between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states, is coming to an end in 2020. In September 2018, the EU and the ACP countries started negotiating a new successor agreement, after having adopted their respective negotiating mandates.

The new deal, expected to enter into force in 2020, will be of paramount importance, as it is likely to shape the character of political, social and economic relations between 106 countries across four different continents for the years to come. The new EU-ACP agreement has the potential to contribute to a sustainable future for more than 1.5 billion people and could represent a milestone for the two blocks in their path towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

In this position paper, Caritas Europa presents its vision and recommendations for a renewed EU-ACP partnership, building on the long-standing experience of the global Caritas network in implementing development projects in partnership with local communities and in working with migrant communities. Caritas organisations are committed to ensuring that especially the furthest behind can thrive and live a dignified life.

Caritas Europa is calling on the EU and ACP countries to build a true partnership of equals that takes into account different needs, development priorities and interests. Both the EU and the ACP states will highly benefit from anchoring the future agreement in shared fundamental values: we believe that the key principles of solidarity, democracy, equality, social justice, as well as respect of human dignity and human rights should provide the foundation for a renewed, stronger partnership.

Migration will likely be a contentious issue during the negotiations for the new EU-ACP partnership: Caritas Europa believes that the future agreement, instead of focusing on tackling the drivers of migration, should rather provide the opportunity to tackle the root causes of poverty, conflict, injustice and inequality in order to ensure that everyone – regardless of migratory status – has access to a dignified life.

Finally, Caritas Europa calls on EU and ACP countries to use this new partnership as an opportunity not only to recognise migration as a dynamic and mutually beneficial process, but also to facilitate and maximise the benefits that migration can bring to the EU and its partner countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Migrants contribute to the economic, social, cultural and political life of the places where they settle. In order to recognise and maximise such contributions, expanded safe and regular migration channels between Europe and ACP countries are needed.