AFRICAN, CARIBBEAN AND PACIFIC GROUP OF STATES
EUROPEAN UNION, THE COUNCIL
24th MEETING OF THE ACP-CE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
Brussels, 29 July 1999
The 24th meeting of the ACP-EC Council of Ministers was held on 29 July 1999 in Brussels, under the chairmanship of Ms Satu HASSI, Minister for Environment and Development of Finland, President of the Council of the European Union.
The ACP delegation was led by Mr Séverin ADJOVI, Minister for Trade, Craft Trade and Tourism of Benin, President of the ACP Council of Ministers.
The European Commission was represented by Mr João de Deus PINHEIRO, Member of that Institution.
* * *
TRADE COOPERATION *
-WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle *
-UNCTAD-X Conference *
REPORT BY THE MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE ON COMMODITIES*
REPORT OF THE MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE ON DEVELOPMENT FINANCE COOPERATION*
SOMALIA - Conclusions*
For further information call 285.64.23 or 285.68.08
The Council had an exchange of views on the next Millennium Round of multilateral trade negotiations scheduled to be launched in Seattle in November 1999.
The ACP side stressed its preoccupations that the interests of the developing countries be taken into account when the issues for discussions in the new Round are decided upon, in particular with regard to special and differential treatment. The EU indicated that in its opinion the next Millennium Round should be of a global and comprehensive nature with a strong development component as the system needs to be in a position to react to and take into account the specific economic and social constraints of the developing countries and, in particular, the least developed countries.
The ACP and the EU side agreed to continue their consultations in preparation for these negotiations ahead of the Seattle meeting.
The Council had an exchange of views on the preparation of the UNCTAD-X Conference planned to take place in Bangkok in February next year. It will be devoted in particular to the examination of the questions linked to the integration of developing countries into the global economy and their participation in world trade, as well as strategies to facilitate this integration.
The ACP and EU side agreed to continue their consultations in preparation for this importance Conference.
The Council had an exchange of views on the future of the EU banana regime. The ACP countries expressed their concern that the interests of ACP banana producers be taken into account when the Commission formulates its proposals for amending the EU banana regime to make it fully compatible with the rulings of the WTO and when the EU Council decides on the basis of these proposals.
The Council took note of the intention of the EU to proceed with any modifications to the EU banana regime in close co-ordination with the ACP side.
The Council took note of a statement by the Minister of Agriculture of Mauritius, Alvin BOOLEL, on the possible impact on ACP sugar exports of the forthcoming international trade negotiations relating to agriculture, the preparation by the Commission of proposals on the future EU sugar regime and the intention of the ACP countries to present a document explaining their stand in this respect, highlighting the specific interests of the ACP sugar producing countries.
REPORT OF THE MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE ON COMMODITIES
The Council took note of the oral report from the Committee on Commodities which took place on 28 July 1999 at Ministerial level:
"The Ministerial Committee noted the joint report on the meeting of the Commodities Committee at Ambassadors' level.
The following matters were discussed:
(i) recent developments concerning international commodity agreements, including the Common Fund for Commodities;
(ii) the use of vegetable fats other than cocoa butter in the manufacture of chocolate;
(iii) preparation for UNCTAD X.
I. RECENT DEVELOPMENTS CONCERNING INTERNATIONAL COMMODITY AGREEMENTS, INCLUDING THE COMMON FUND FOR COMMODITIES
The two sides reviewed the situation concerning existing commodity agreements.
The International Cocoa Agreement had entered the phase in which its second-generation economic clauses became fully applicable. Despite the lack of stabilisation arrangements and mechanisms, producers and consumers were working together to ensure that, as far as possible, production was geared to consumption. The Agreement had accordingly been extended for an initial phase of two years until 2001.
However, producers and consumers would be called upon in the coming months to consider the actual impact of the provisions concerning the policies on concerted production and on consumption in order to find suitable arrangements for the continuation of effective international cooperation in this matter.
With regard to the International Coffee Agreement, the two sides welcomed the fact that at the extraordinary meeting of the International Coffee Council in London on 21 July 1999, producers and consumers had adopted a Resolution stipulating that:
- the Agreement would be extended for two years, i.e. until from 1 October 1999 to 30 September 2001;
- a negotiating group, open to all Members, would be set up, with the task of drawing up the draft new International Coffee Agreement by 30 September 2000; this timetable would allow the signatory states to complete the process of ratification, approval or acceptance of the new Agreement before 30 September 2001.
The ACP side urged the need for the Community to finalise its negotiating directives as soon as possible in order that this timetable could be met.
The European Union noted this wish.
As regards the International Tropical Timber Agreement, the two sides expressed their satisfaction at the fact that the framework for a fruitful dialogue had been established. This could only make it easier to achieve the sustainable management of tropical forests by the year 2000 that all parties wanted to see. However, the ACP Group was concerned about the limited resources for achieving the Year 2000 Objective, which was also included in Protocol No 10 on sustainable management of forest resources.
In response, it was stressed that in addition to the funds provided for this purpose, a budget line of EUR 50 million per year had been made available by the European Parliament.
Regarding the Common Fund for Commodities, the two sides welcomed the adoption of the new strategy introduced by the five-year action plan, which gave that organisation a new impetus, despite the crisis that was affecting all commodity organisations.
The two sides noted that the difficult question of using financial resources from the "first window" also seemed to have been resolved satisfactorily with a redistribution of members' shares, as long as a large proportion of those shares was paid back to the "second window", thus increasing its capacity to achieve specific objectives.
II. USE OF VEGETABLE FATS OTHER THAN COCOA BUTTER IN THE MANUFACTURE OF CHOCOLATE
In this particular area, both sides said that some progress had been made towards Community harmonisation, not only in the direction sought by the European Parliament but also in that sought by the ACP partners. A final compromise formula seemed possible, but there was not as yet a true consensus on it among all the parties concerned.
Among other things, the compromise concerned:
1. extending the use of vegetable fats (max. 5%), subject to certain conditions laid down in the actual proposal. The indication of the presence of vegetable fats should be clearly visible within the same field as the name of the product;
2. the establishment of criteria for the use of these substances;
3. drawing up a list of six authorised vegetable fats of tropical origin, enzymatic processes being excluded;
4. the establishment of special consultation procedures for future adjustments to the Directive.
However the ACP side said that the methods for detecting and quantifying vegetable fats other than cocoa butter were still not reliable (10% of such fats could not be reliably detected).
The EC noted this concern and said that it would provide the ACP Group with information on further developments in methods of analysis as soon as they became available.
III. UNCTAD X
The two sides noted that it was necessary to continue contributing actively to discussions in the various multilateral fora, endeavouring to safeguard the principles of constructive dialogue and international cooperation in the commodities field. They considered that UNCTAD X provided a framework that was conducive to close consultations for improving the integration of the ACP States' economies into the international economic system in the process of globalisation and liberalisation.
The two sides therefore agreed to hold further consultations ahead of the 10th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to be held in Thailand in February 2000.
Lastly, it should be noted that the Minister of Guyana, on behalf of his country and Suriname, voiced his concern regarding the arrangements applying to rice, and on behalf of Caribbean States, on rum. The Committee took note of these comments.
This, then, is the report on the meeting of the Commodities Committee at Ministerial level."
REPORT OF THE MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE ON DEVELOPMENT FINANCE COOPERATION
The Council took note of the oral report from the Development Finance Cooperation Committee which took place on 28 July 1999 at Ministerial level comprising the following elements:
1. Following the examination of the report and Resolution of the ACP-EC Development Finance Cooperation Committee, prepared at official's level, the Committee reached overall agreement on these documents and recommended them for formal adoption by the Ministers.
The report is composed of two elements:
- the 1998 Implementation Report, dealing with the results of aid implementation over the year;
- the Joint Evaluation Report for 1998 with an overview of activities in 1998 and a Working programme for 1999.
The document also contains a draft Resolution on these matters.
The Commission gave the Committee an update on the implementation of financial cooperation. The EIB representative gave an overview of the bank's recent activities and its plans for the future.
2. In this context the Commission explained that, in the management of external aid programmes of the European Union, the Commission is examining a new approach in the matter of harmonisation of procedures for the implementation of these aid programmes, in particular in the field of tendering, which approach could lead to later modifications of the special conditions relating to EDF-financed contracts. The Commission will insure the necessary concertation with the ACP States as soon as the results of this examination are available. This concertation will take place as soon as the appropriate institutions of the EU will have taken a decision.
3. The Commission made a statement to the Committee setting out the Commission's ideas for simplifying EDF management. The Commission intends to implement a series of measures designed to simplify the financial management of the EDFs by transferring to the 8th EDF all remaining balances from the 6th, 7th and earlier EDFs. The available resources for the 8th EDF would then be used according to the strategies and policies agreed with the ACP partners.
This simplification is being proposed with the aim of improving transparency, visibility and accountability. It is a call for better cooperation between the Community and its partners to ensure a more effective development programme backed by financial solidarity.
The ACP side has taken note of the Commission statement and informed the Committee that they will make its position known once the concrete proposals had been made available. The ACP side also expressed its readiness to examine positively this proposal that it would not entail new conditionalities. Finally the ACP side called on both parties to make a special effort to commit in the next twelve months at least half of the unused funds remaining.
4. The ACP side made a short statement on the refugees financing.
The ACP side made a call to revamp the activities of the DFC Committee as provided in article 326 of the Convention.
The Committee took note of these statements.
The Council approved the report of the Committee and adopted the Resolution on development finance cooperation.
The President of the EU Council informed the ACP side on the state of play regarding the negotiations for accession to the Union in conformity with the provisions of Article 358 of the Lomé Convention.
SOMALIA - Conclusions
"THE ACP-EC COUNCIL:
1. Recalls the ACP-EC Council conclusions on Somalia of June 1996 (Apia), April 1997 (Luxembourg) and May 1998 (Bridgetown);
2. Reiterates Somalia's political adherence to the Lomé Convention;
3. Declares that the primary responsibility for national reconciliation lies with the Somali people itself.
Welcomes the initiatives and concerted efforts undertaken by the Somali people, the, the OAU, the EU, the IGAD Partners Forum (and its Liaison Group for Somalia) and the Standing Committee for Somalia in favour of reconciliation and nation building in Somalia and encourages an even greater convergence of interested external actors within such Somalia-specific fora;
4. Expresses its concern at the continued fighting between different Somali factions and the violations of the arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council resolution 733 of 23 January 1992.
5. Believes that only a process leading to a Somali driven National Reconciliation Conference inclusive of all geographic areas and of all segments of the Somali society would receive nation-wide acceptance, as well as that of the international community, consequently leading to the formation of a representative transitional government;
6. Regrets the continuing failure of implementing non-inclusive agreements reached by Somali faction leaders outside Somalia, and believes that further support should be given preferably to all-inclusive reconciliation initiatives undertaken within Somalia; welcomes in this respect that the EU stands ready to assist the responsible regional organisations, in particular IGAD and the OAU, in their effort to provide the necessary logistical support to enable an all-inclusive National Reconciliation Conference to proceed;
7. Takes note of the initiatives taken by the European Commission following the Apia, Luxembourg and Bridgetown conclusions and welcomes in particular:
- the Community's increased involvement in the peace and reconciliation efforts in Somalia at all levels;
- the Community's continuous efforts to provide humanitarian and emergency assistance to those in need all over the country as well as the Community's implementation of the ‘peace dividend approach’ via rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in accordance with the Addis Ababa declaration and the conclusions of the Committee on Somalia of the IGAD Partners Forum in areas where relative peace and stability prevails and responsible local Somali Authorities are in place such as in Somaliland and Puntland;
- the Commission's continued intention and efforts in supporting the formation of representative structures in the different regions facilitating their originating exports to the EU;
- the Commission’s continued role in co-ordinating the efforts of the international community in the provision of humanitarian relief as well as rehabilitation and reconstruction activities through the Somalia Aid Co-ordination Body (SACB);
8. Re-confirms that EDF resources will be made available once Somalia - never having cease to belong to the Lomé family - has acceded to the Lomé IV Convention pursuant to its article 364a;
Notes in this respect the diminishing level of existing resources available for rehabilitation and development activities for Somalia, and therefore:
• Welcomes the intention of the Commission of making a special reference to Somalia in the context of the budgetary resources available for rehabilitation;
• Underlines the need to find an interim solution in the context of the post-Lomé negotiations and this until the process of national reconciliation in Somalia is completed.
9. Welcomes the intentions of the neighbouring ACP countries and the Commission to include Somalia in future regional projects to be financed out of the 8th EDF in accordance with the provisions of article 157."