SIGNING OF THE SAMOA AGREEMENT: Speech by Prof. Robert DUSSEY, Chief Negotiator of the ACP group
Madam Prime Minister of the Independent State of SAMOA,
Mr Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the OEACP,
The President of the Council of Ministers of the European Union,
Madam European Commissioner for International Partnerships,
Mr Secretary General of the OEACP,
Co-Presidents of the OEACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We were here in Apia in Samoa in February 2019 as part of the OEACP-EU political consultations on the regional protocols to the new agreement under preparation. Four and a half years later, here we are again in Samoa and welcomed with the same great sense of hospitality. I would like to thank the authorities of this country for their warm welcome and the arrangements made to facilitate our stay in Samoa, an island of hospitality.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The negotiating mandate of our Organisation for the Post-Cotonou Agreement was solemnly handed over to Togo at the end of May 2018 in Lomé as the country chosen to chair our central negotiating group. We launched the negotiations with the European side on the 28th September 2018 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, and they ended with the initialling of the now new Agreement on the 15th April 2021.
The institutional stages of internal validation for each of the Parties to the partnership then took over, and here we are today, gathered in Samoa for the signing of the new Agreement. The process has been laborious and at times difficult, but what matters in the end is the agreement reached. The happy outcome of processes of this kind often has the advantage of softening the pain and the bad memories, because what is remembered in the final analysis is the result. The end, therefore, justifies the sacrifice.
However, I would be remiss if I failed to mention and express my deep gratitude to the leaders of the other member countries of our Central Negotiating Group, whose support was always forthcoming during the negotiations. I wish to express my thanks to the Secretary General of the OEACP, who provided us with constant support throughout the process, as well as the European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Ms Jutta Urpilainen, with whom we had made the way to the negotiations together.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are preparing to sign the Post-Cotonou Agreement, now known as the “Samoa Agreement”, in an international context where multilateralism is highly disrupted. The signing of the new Agreement enables us to reaffirm our commitment to multilateralism and to the virtues of cooperation. The world needs multilateralism and cooperation more than ever, as we face complex and transnational challenges together. What justifies multilateralism and imposes it on us in today’s world as an unsurpassable horizon is the complex and global nature of the challenges to be faced, and the strategic areas of cooperation included in the common core framework of the new Agreement are an illustration of this.
But multilateralism can ONLY keep its as yet unfulfilled promises – those which must become reality to bring about the world we want – IF it is reinvented in the context of a willingness to embrace reform. The OEACP-EU partnership, as a framework for cooperation linking Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Europe, cannot remain on the sidelines of the winds of reform.
That is why, throughout the negotiations, our organisation did its utmost to ensure that the transition from the Cotonou Agreement to the Samoa Agreement not be a mere formality, a mere “language game”, to borrow a concept from Ludwig Wittgenstein, but the opportunity for a genuine change in the partnership. More than just an opportunity to renew an agreement that has become obsolete, the new agreement must provide an opportunity to overhaul Europe-OEACP relations.
Most of the actors who established our partnership are no longer with us, and there have been several generational changes. This change in actors is an asset for our partnership, and we, the current generations, will have to take the EOACP-EU partnership to an unprecedented level of quality.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The successful implementation of the Samoa Agreement will determine the future of the OEACP and the OEACP-EU partnership. And this is a new agreement to be implemented in a new environment and with a new state of mind. This is the only way our partnership can survive the Samoa Agreement. The Samoa Agreement must be a new beginning, not a transition towards the end of the OEACP-EU partnership.
The outcome of the implementation of the new Agreement in a few years’ time should convince us that we were right to continue the partnership within the framework of the OEACP-EU, which some consider inappropriate in today’s world because of the historical context in which the partnership emerged.
In Africa, the demand for a paradigm shift in Europe-Africa relations is very strong today, and the application of the new agreement will have to take account of this requirement. Africa is undergoing profound change in a world that is itself changing, and Europe must take account of this new situation in its new relationship with Africa.
Finally, the ACP-EU partnership that we want must truly be the partnership of our peoples. It must be operational in line with the expectations of independence, respect, dignity, justice and equity of the peoples of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. If the partnership does not incorporate these legitimate expectations of our peoples, it will not be able to fulfil its promises.
We need a deep sense of listening and responsibility in the implementation of the new Agreement. Our partnership will die or survive from this Agreement and it all depends on our ability to apply it pragmatically in a new pattern of behavior and a new mindset.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Apia, Samoa – 15 Novembre 2023