Development ministers of European Union meet to step up cooperation with Africa and agree on post-Cotonou negotiations
The State Secretary for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno Bau, took part on Tuesday in the informal meeting of development ministers of the European Union, called by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell Fontelles, and by the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller. The meeting is framed within the debate of the European Foreign Affairs Council held on 21 September, while seeking to support preparations for the upcoming high-level meeting of the European Union (EU)-African Union (AU), including the EU-AU summit, postponed until the first quarter of 2021 due to the pandemic.

The development ministers – or in their place representatives with a ministerial status – of the 27 Member States met by video-conference to step up cooperation with Africa, analyse the efforts by Team Europe on the African continent and define the lines of action in the post-Cotonou negotiations, which will frame relations between the EU and the region for the next two decades.

The initial reports on the actions of Team Europe were presented at the meeting – the global response by the EU to combat COVID-19 — to support the efforts being made by African countries to mitigate the crisis. The State secretary stressed the importance of this focus, which allows European efforts to focus on the needs of its partner countries. Spain proposes strengthening the alignment of the private sector with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and of harmonising mechanisms for joint reporting.

The European response to the debts of these States within the broader context of supporting the economic recovery was another of the issues discussed. In this regard, Spain signed up to the request to extend the Debt Service Suspension Initiative until 2021 and seconded the initiatives to swap debt for investment in climate action and the SDG.

The European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, informed the ministers of the state of the post-Cotonou negotiations. The application of the Cotonou Agreement – the general framework for EU relations with countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) – which expired last February after 20 years in force, has been extended until December this year, since the negotiation process is still under way. The European Commission has proposed establishing another extension to the EU until the end of June 2021.

The meeting sought to reach a consensus on the new agreement. Ángeles Moreno Bau suggested, among other proposals, negotiating those matters where there is the greatest divergence with sufficient time, such as the case of migration, and sexual and reproductive rights. As regards the right to sexual and reproductive health and the freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity, she stressed the importance of avoiding any form of regression and unambiguously reiterated the commitment to the effective and full application of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

On the last point on the agenda, the ministers addressed the crisis in Belarus and explored ways to support Belarusian civil society.


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