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Post-Cotonou agreement: Declaration by the Togolese civil society
Message to the Togolese Presidency of the Central Group for the Negotiations of ACP countries
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"The lack of coherence between the policies deployed by European Union countries and their commitments in relation to development aid within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have led to an exacerbation of inequalities within and between ACP countries. Inclusive political dialogue, egalitarian partnership, respect for human rights, for the rule of law and for democracy, presented as the fundamental values of the Cotonou Agreements, have hardly enabled a change in the relations of dependence between ACP countries and their former colonising powers."
Following the 107th session of the council of ministers of the countries of the Africa-Caribbean- Pacific Group, held in Lomé on 29 and 30 May 2018, Togo has been appointed to hold the presidency of the Central Group for Negotiations of ACP countries. This group is tasked with defining the modalities and to undertake negotiations with the European Union (EU) on the future ACP-EU agreement to replace the Cotonou Agreement which expires in 2020. At a time when Togo returns to the position it had previously held, most significantly in the negotiations which led to the adoption of the four Lomé Conventions, Togolese civil society, in coordination with its counterparts in ACP countries, wishes to address the Togolese authorities on citizens' concerns regarding this new ACP-EU cooperation agreement.
At a time to evaluate the Cotonou Agreement, Togolese civil society draws the lessons of the ascertained shortcomings in the implementation of this convention over nearly 20 years. The hopes raised by the Cotonou Agreement, signed at the start of the 2000s, and which allowed the hope for a more equitable partnership between the European Union and the ACP countries at the start of the new millennium, quickly gave way to disenchantment. The lack of coherence between the policies deployed by European Union countries and their commitments in relation to development aid within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have led to an exacerbation of inequalities within and between ACP countries. Inclusive political dialogue, egalitarian partnership, respect for human rights, for the rule of law and for democracy, presented as the fundamental values of the Cotonou Agreements, have hardly enabled a change in the relations of dependence between ACP countries and their former colonising powers.
Togolese civil society would like to stress the difficult episodes arising from the imposition of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) upon the six regions of the ACP group, which made their integration more fragile and were detrimental for the survival of their agricultural producers, livestock keepers and fishermen. Further, using EU development aid as a way to blackmail ACP countries in exchange for the signing of Readmission Agreements of undocumented migrants or, more generally, agreements to control the mobility and migration of ACP country citizens towards the European Union, has affected civil society over the last few years. These agreements' negative effect in both economic and social terms has been criticised by civil society in ACP countries and Europe by way of numerous mobilisations by citizens, without their voice being heard. The democratic illusion which was sold by the Cotonou Agreement has given way to the will of European states to defend their geopolitical interests and the profits of their transnational corporations.
As a consequence of the unbridled neoliberalism and of the inequitable trade system promoted by the Cotonou Agreement, ACP countries have seen an intensification of poverty in rural and urban settings during recent years. The widespread misery which has resulted in the societies of ACP countries has led to numerous movements supporting social claims, uprisings resulting from hunger, the unleashing of secessionist rebellions and armed conflicts alike, the strengthening of authoritarian and repressive powers, practices of corruption, or even the departure through migration of a sizeable number of their citizens. Despite the grey areas that characterise over forty years of ACP-EU cooperation with ineffective development policies, and commitments in the Lomé conventions and the Cotonou Agreement which have not been met, Togolese civil society refuses to despair. It remains optimistic about the arrival of a new equitable partnership between the ACP group of countries and the EU.
Despite acknowledging the legitimate temptation to withdraw from the ACP group voiced by certain countries, Togolese civil society calls for a unitary approach by ACP countries during negotiations to avoid the division maintained within the group on the basis of the specificity of each regional unit. Togo's civil society invites the Togolese presidency of the negotiators' group to become the voice of the citizens of ACP countries in defending their right to employment in decent conditions and to the long-term development of their society, of their sovereignty in terms of food and natural resources, and of their right to mobility and to settle in another country when their life is in peril. Togolese civil society appeals for the solidarity of European citizens, relying on their experiences of resistance against the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreements (CETA), policies against immigration and against refugees, to demand an equitable and fair partnership between ACP countries and the EU from their governments and the European Commission.
Written in Lomé on 01 June 2018
Visions Solidaires (VS) ; Les Amis de la Terre-Togo (AdT-Togo), Association Togolaise des Expulsés (ATE), Association pour l'Autopromotion des Communautés de Base (ACOMB), Association pour la Taxation des Transactions Financières et l'Action Citoyenne - Togo (ATTAC - Togo), Groupe d'Action et de Réflexion sur l'Environnement et le Développement (GARED), Association Global Humaniste (AGH)
Press Contact: Samir ABI, Visions Solidaires, Tel :(+228) 90 79 44 12 email : visionssolidaires [at] gmail.com
Originally published in French on the Visions Solidaires website. Translation by Statewatch.
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