The European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, has praised the Union’s political commitment to fund an ambitious programme of aid for trade and economic integration in West Africa (PAPED). This programme is an essential element of the future Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with West Africa, currently under negotiation and would ensure that the region made the most of this agreement. Funds available to provide support to PAPED for the next five years amounts to around 6.5 billion euros.
The European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, stated that “The commitment to make available 6.5 billion euros will ensure that West Africa makes the most of the opportunities provided by the future EPA for that region. What we need now is a joint effort to conclude an ambitious EPA to generate reform, growth and regional integration. We are very close to reaching a fair and balanced agreement. Europe is not only the largest donor in the world it also intends to provide the economic support to its partners to create the conditions necessary to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.”
The Commissioner and the Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Mrs. Soraya Rodriguez, announced the Council Conclusion during a seminar organised by the Spanish Presidency of the European Union on the theme “Reinforcing regional integration in West Africa: what role for the European Union?”. The seminar takes place in Brussels on 11 and 12 May 2010, in the margins of the Council of Development Ministers and in the presence of the Presidents of the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions, Messrs Victor Gbeho and Soumaïla Cissé and the Secretary General of ACP states, Mr. Mohamed ibn Chambas.
With these 10 May Council conclusions, the Union acknowledges the importance of the EPA Development Programme (otherwise known under its French acronym PAPED) developed by West Africa during the negotiations of an Economic Partnership Agreement between the 16 states in the region and the European Union. This is an essential step in the negotiating process of the future EPA, now drawing to a conclusion.
The Economic Partnership Agreement process is unique, since it will culminate in a commercial agreement which contains an explicit development objective. As such, the EPA represents a new kind of partnership between West Africa and the EU, aimed at strengthening West-African economies via the production and export of a wider range of goods and services, and by creating more intense trade between the countries in the region.
The PAPED, an essential element of the EPA, has five main strategic dimensions:
Promoting diversification and growth in production capacity, development of intra-regional trade and improved access to internal markets and improvement and reinforcement of regional and national infrastructures linked to trade. And also carrying out essential adjustments and identifying other needs linked to trade implementation of EPA monitoring and evaluation.
The amount of aid to support PAPED’s activities over the next five years is around 6.5 billion euros. The existing instruments which can be mobilized to that end include the European Development Fund, Budget lines managed by the European Commission, bilateral cooperation instruments of Member States of the Union, and the European Investment Bank.
The negotiations for an economic partnership agreement between West Africa and the European Union are ongoing and the next round is scheduled for 7 to 11 June 2010 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.