“Africa is able not only to transform the lives of a billion citizens, but to improve those of millions of people throughout the world ! said Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) at the opening its 28th session in Strasbourg on 1 December.
Africa, once seen as the « forgotten continent » is today « THE continent of the future », said Mr Michel. He listed the assets that have made possible an “African renaissance”: immense tracts of arable land, a wealth of raw materials, growing cultural influence and a youthful population. The “continent’s economic take-off », with an average economic growth rate of 5% and population growth of 2.5% per year, « has become indissociable from globalisation », he added.
Yet much remains to be done to make these assets really work for Africa. Growth must be “sustainable and inclusive” said Mr Michel, citing the business climate, the tax system and the exploitation of raw materials as key challenges.
According to JPA Co-President Fitz A. Jackson (Jamaica) “when we speak of economic growth, we should also consider the critical role that the private sector plays in facilitating economic growth and reducing poverty, inequality and income disparity in ACP States.”
No development without security
Peace and stability are threatened by developments in the Sahel, Darfur, Somalia, the Horn of Africa, DRC, Mali and Nigeria (where the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram operates) in Niger, and finally, by the emergence of the so-called « Islamic state ». To prevent Africa turning into a « lawless area for traffickers worldwide”, the African authorities “must be given the means to run an effective and lasting counter-terrorist policy”.
Fitz A. Jackson recalled that the terrorism had various facets” and highlighted “its trans-boundary nature and ongoing internationalisation”.
Like terrorism, “wars, massacres and ethnic violence know no borders», said Mr Michel. “Reconciliation (…) is always painful, but it is the only way to return to the peace and harmony that cement a people”, he continued, stressing that it is also necessary to «shoulder the burden of truth”. He saluted the role of the International Criminal Court “in this dual process of justice and reconciliation”.
Fitz A. Jackson also expressed concern about the security of the population in some post-conflict countries where tensions between former protagonists persist. “This could be due to the absence or weakness of democratic structures, cultures and practices, and the consequent struggle for democratisation, good governance and reform of political systems” he said. He also called on his European counterparts to ensure that there is absolute transparency in the sale of weapons from their countries which (…) could end up perpetuating conflicts and terrorism in Africa and other countries”.
Ebola: the worst outbreak of the disease in history
The Ebola outbreak “has become the worst outbreak of the disease in history, not only for Africa but also elsewhere in the world”, said Mr Michel. “The Ebola epidemic remains a global issue that urgently needs a sustained response based on our sense of humanity and empathy”, said JPA Co-President Fitz A. Jackson.
Mr Michel welcomed joint EU and USA efforts to provide the authorities of the affected countries with financial and technical resources to help in their fight against the disease.
“This is indeed human solidarity when it is most needed. But I still believe that the international community can do more”, said Mr Jackson. He also drew the Assembly’s attention to the long-lasting social and economic impact of the epidemic.
In this regard, he supported “the call by the United States for the International Monetary Fund to cancel debts owed by the severely affected countries” and invited “other multilateral and bilateral lenders to favourably respond to this call”.
28th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly
The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) brings together elected representatives of the European Union (EU) and the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP), with MEPs and MPs from the 78 signatory states to the Cotonou Agreement, which is the basis for ACP-EU development cooperation.
The Assembly will vote on Wednesday 3 December on three resolutions:
the social and economic consequences of malnutrition in ACP countries (debate Tuesday, vote Wednesday, co-rapporteurs: Alban Bagbin, ACP, and Norbert Neuser, EU),
private sector development strategy, including innovation, for sustainable development (debate Tuesday, vote Wednesday, co-rapporteurs: Arnaldo Andrade Ramos, ACP, and Bogdan Brunon Wenta, EU), and
the challenge of national reconciliation in post-conflict and post-crisis countries(debate and vote on Wednesday, co-rapporteurs: Komi Selom Klassou, ACP, and Joachim Zeller, EU).
Two urgent topics will be debated and concluded with resolutions:
the Ebola outbreak (debate Monday, vote Wednesday) and
the expansion of terrorism in Africa (debate and vote Wednesday)