Friday 28 September 2018, 10:00, New York, United States of America
OPENING OF NEGOTIATIONS ON A NEW PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE EUROPEAN UNION AND COUNTRIES OF THE ACP GROUP OF STATES
Your Excellency’s, distinguished guest ladies and gentlemen.
Let me first thank Commissioner Minister for accepting to behave in New York
In less than two years, we are called to renew the terms of ACP-EU cooperation. This ceremony officially launches the process of the negotiations that will lead us to a new agreement. The signing of a new cooperation agreement between our two entities was well worthwhile as the European Union and the ACP still have unexploited opportunities to explore and exploit together. To paraphrase the title of a book by Karl POPPER and Konrad LORENZ the horizon of our cooperation remains open and there is room for hope for the future.
For the future of our cooperation, hope is justified only if it is based on a common commitment to journeying together along the road of prosperity. We must work together to succeed together. ACP-EU cooperation will remain faithful to its original ambition only if it remains a partnership at the service of the fundamental human right to ACP peoples’ development. The key challenge for the ACP remains the war on the lack of development and our partnership must be able to help ACP member States to meet this challenge.
The connection between the ACP Group and the EU was established in Article 1 of Chapter 1 of the Georgetown Agreement, the Constitutive Act of the ACP Group, which states that “The Members of the ACP Group shall be the African, Caribbean and Pacific States which are signatory to the Convention of Lomé and to this Agreement.” The ACP Group underlines that ACP-EU partnership is a valuable and unique achievement that has strengthened bonds between ACP and EU peoples and countries throughout the last 45 years of its existence. The opening of the negotiations today heralds the continuity of trust and confidence cherished by parties to the Partnership.
Difficulties, misunderstandings and pitfalls may arise in the joint venture of negotiations, but we must stand firm, use our “practical wisdom” to overcome them. “Practical wisdom”, the other name of ARISTOTE’s phronesis, says Paul RICOEUR in his work oneself as another, “consists in inventing just behavior suited to the singular nature of the case”. It can help us overcome the aporias, the “reasonable disagreements”, the “objective illusions” and risks of stalemates immanent to any normal process of negotiation.
We must ensure that ACP-EU cooperation really serve the cause of development of ACP countries. ACP-EU cooperation can only lead to the development desired and hoped for by the ACP States if it does not annihilate their endogenous development initiatives, if it does not compromise – to borrow the word from Amartya SEN – the “capabilities” of the ACP countries through deindustrialization and the dismantling of their economies. It is in the economic and strategic interest of Europe that the ACP countries develop. To think otherwise would be a lack of ambition.
We need more ambition and imagination to understand the new challenges of our cooperation that we hope for and wish to be more fruitful, fairer and more responsible. When you are two to journey on a road, you need essential lucidity so as not to step on your fellow traveler’s toes. Lucidity, by its Latin etymology, means “light” and someone who is lucid, says Augustin Kouadio DIBI “is someone that can see clearly, someone that grasps things in the light”. In the light, we will come to a new agreement in the best interest of Europe and the ACP countries.
Many topics will be on the agenda of upcoming negotiations. These topics touch on fields (for illustrative purposes) such as economics and investment, development cooperation, research and technological innovation, climate change, the war on poverty, security, political dialogue and migration. The examination of all these subjects must be done in the near future in broader rationality.
Because I remain convinced that the horizon of ACP-EU cooperation remains open; that the European Union and the ACP countries still have “possible future” to explore and invent together, I would like to end on this thought of the French philosopher of prospection Gaston Berger in his book The Phenomenology of time and Prospective: “Tomorrow will not be like yesterday. It will be new and it will depend on us. It is less to discover than to invent”.
Good luck with future negotiations.
Thank you for your attention