29th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly: Specific problems of Pacific under spotlight

28th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary assembly in Strasbourg Family photoThe specific problems of the Pacific region, such as climate change, fisheries, maritime security and regional integration, as well as the generation of fiscal revenues in ACP countries, were discussed by the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly at its 29th session, which closed on Wednesday (17 June) in Suva (Fiji).

Cautious green light for EU blending mechanism to finance trade and investment

The Assembly called for the financing of investment and trade, including infrastructure, in ACP countries through the EU blending mechanism. It said, in a report by its economic development, finance and trade committee, that this would boost the funding available for development by making projects with a high-risk profile or low profit margin, such as the Kenya Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, viable due to lower interest rates. However, MEPs and ACP MPs stress that to be effective, the blending mechanism must have transparent procedures to ensure that the additionally principle is applied and that the government of the recipient country is fully involved at every step of the decision-making process.

Protect cultural diversity and avoid cultural relativism in human rights

The Assembly stated its concern, in a report drawn up by the political affairs committee, that many cultures are disappearing because of their oral tradition, in combination with globalisation. It calls for cultural traditions to be respected and promoted, not least because they forge an identity and protect communities from radicalisation. However, the Assembly stresses that cultural differences must not be misused to justify violating shared human rights principles such as non-discrimination.

Quality education: Accessible to all

In a report by the social affairs and environment committee, the Assembly points to the importance of education for the improvement of individuals’ lives and the development of ACP countries. It calls for higher-quality and more accessible education, with particular emphasis on removing gender gaps. The report also highlights the need to strengthen the link between education and the labour market by making sure that students are taught the skills and competences needed and by increasing access to vocational and technical training.

Vanuatu and climate change

ACP and EU Members passed a resolution expressing their solidarity with the people of Vanuatu and other states in the region affected by Cyclone Pam in March. They call on the international community to step up its support and coordinate the mobilization of resources for the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure such as sanitation, housing, schooling and communication systems. They say ACP and EU countries must ensure that the post-2015 development agenda takes account of the needs of ACP small island developing states by addressing the impact of climate change and building in resilience to natural disasters. The resolution also highlights the plight of environmental migrants and calls on the international community to identify and address legal gaps in the protection of these migrants.

Call for elections in Central African Republic

The ACP-EU JPA passed an urgent resolution on the political, humanitarian and security situation in the Central African Republic. It called for free, fair and transparent elections before the end of 2015 and asked the international community to provide electoral assistance (USD 21 million is needed). It says there can be no impunity for the perpetrators of gross human rights violations. The Assembly strongly supports the efforts of religious leaders seeking to resolve sectarian tensions.

Statements by co-chairs

Co-presidents Louis Michel (ALDE, BE) and Fitz A. Jackson (Jamaica) issued two statements: one on the situation in Burundi and the other on the recent suicide attacks in Chad and on Boko Haram.

Next ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly

The 30th Parliamentary Assembly is scheduled for the end of December 2015.

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