Solomon Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) Milner has called on the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to beef up efforts in preparatory work and facilitating collective efforts in the lead up to the Post- Cotonou negotiations.
The Cotonou Partnership Agreement provides the bases for the EU – ACP Partnership, and was signed in June 2000 at Cotonou, Benin. However, this agreement will expire in 2020, with a successor partnership agreement expected to take its place after its expiration.
The EU-ACP Partnership has contributed to a number of developmental programs amongst its ACP partners. Ranging from Development Financing, to Trade Agreements like the EPAs, Climate Change Programs, as well as, the European Development Fund programs (EDF).
In fact, the Pacific Island States are recipients of substantive EU development support under this agreement. Solomon Islands recently signed the EU and SIG National Indicative Program Agreement of approximately SBD $ 360 Million dollars in 2015 under such framework.
At the PACP Foreign Ministers Caucus Meeting in Fiji last week, Honourable Tozaka stressed the importance of the process leading up to the Post – Cotonou negotiations, and the need for the Forum Secretariat to take an active part in the preparatory phase.
In respect of the Three Pillars of the Cotonou Agreement, there is a need for our negotiators to highlight our region’s priorities within these areas.
He also highlighted the need for a combined effort by the Forum Secretariat and Pacific Ambassadors in Brussels to collaborate in the process of negotiations.Minister Tozaka noted that as a group, the Pacific has been a quiet partner in the ACP group. Therefore, underlining the importance of the Pacific front to be strengthened and our priorities is made clear by appointed negotiators for the Post – Cotonou process.
Negotiators for the Post – Cotonou agenda are expected to be appointed in 2018, with negotiators representing the three regions of the ACP, expected to begin consultations with the EU by then.
The Post – Cotonou Agenda is one of the agendas to be discussed by Pacific Leaders in Samoa during the PACP Leaders retreat, with a representative from the EU expected to attend the Leaders’ Summit as well.