ECOWAS, EU TO STRENGTHEN COOPERATION ON PEACE, SECURITY, TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT ISSUES
ECOWAS and the European Union (EU) have ended the 20th Session of their Political Dialogue Meeting at Ministerial level in Abuja with wide-ranging decisions reinforcing their common values on peace and security, governance and other political, trade and development-related issues, which are of mutual interest to the two regions.
In an eight-page Communiqué at the end of the meeting at the ECOWAS Commission’s Abuja headquarters on Thursday 27th November 2014, the EU expressed its appreciation of the measures being taken by ECOWAS to defend the gains of the democratization process and the rule of law in West Africa.
It also stressed the importance of implementing the ECOWAS counter terrorism strategy in the framework of the challenges of the West African region and encouraged ECOWAS to further strengthen its capacity to conduct effective preventive diplomacy and mediation.
In addition, the EU encouraged ECOWAS on its reform initiatives aimed at enhancing its effectiveness and render more efficient, its administrative and financial policies and procedures, while the meeting was also briefed on the progress made on the Institutional Reforms and the expansion of the ECOWAS Commission’s statutory appointees to fifteen (15) Commissioners, and the latest institutional developments in Europe.
The parties commended progress towards the operationalization of the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF), which is one of the main security instruments for regional Peace and Stability, and a fundamental building block for the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). They stressed the urgent need to accelerate progress in order to meet the 2015 full operationalization objective, as foreseen by the ESF Roadmap-III (2011-2015).
The parties further agreed that given the situation in the region, operationalization before that deadline would be most appropriate and useful, and stressed the importance of strengthening the link between early warning and early action.
Consequently, both sides reiterated the need for additional resources in addressing rapid deployment capability (RDC) within the ESF, in particular the development of a logistics depot, strategic lift capabilities and planning capacity of the ESF, and with coordination of international efforts to support the ESF which is key to achieving success.
The Communiqué also touched on developments in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea Bissau, while stressing the need to support the countries in addressing the political and humanitarian challenges for the quick return of peace and security, democracy, good governance and the rule of law.
Both Parties equally reviewed their respective Sahel Strategies and reflected on how to ensure faster progress and synergies in addition to other strategies for the Sahel and with the G-5 countries.
The Communiqué acknowledged progress in the strengthening of Maritime Safety and Security in the Gulf of Guinea, and welcomed the adoption of the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy (EIMS) in response to the current threats in the Gulf of Guinea, taking particularly into account the need for a comprehensive approach which combines action at sea and on land to ensure a multi-agency response to combat piracy and other illicit activities.
Both sides stressed the importance of regional ownership and inter-regional coordination and welcomed the ECOWAS/ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States)/GGC (Gulf of Guinea Commission) Summit held in Yaoundé in June 2013. The EU commended the actions taken by ECOWAS to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the Summit, including the launching of the International Coordination Centre (ICC) in Yaoundé, while ECOWAS in turn, lauded the EU's update of its on-going work towards the formulation of an EU Action Plan to implement the comprehensive EU Gulf of Guinea strategy, in support of the region’s efforts.
Noting the critical elections in the ECOWAS region in 2015, both sides stressed that the holding of credible, transparent, inclusive and regular elections is a cornerstone of the shared values between the Parties. They, therefore, considered regular electoral processes in West Africa as a decisive factor contributing to peace and security and pledged considerable assistance to Member States in the organization of elections.
On the Ebola outbreak, ECOWAS welcomed the one billion Euros pledged by the EU and its Member States to combat the disease and the EU’s strong commitment to contribute to international response. Both parties reaffirmed their commitment to continue their joint and coordinated efforts to contain the epidemic and commended the appropriate actions undertaken by Nigeria and Senegal, and encouraged the other affected countries in their efforts to fight the epidemic.
The Meeting was co-chaired by Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Madam Hanna Tetteh, Chairperson of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers and Mr. Mario Giro, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy on behalf of the EU.
The ECOWAS delegation led by the President of the Commission Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo included the Vice President Dr. Toga McIntosh, Commissioners for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, Macroeconomic Policy and Research, Dr. Ibrahim Boucar Ba, Human Development and Gender, Dr. Fatimata Dia Sow and a representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Côte d'Ivoire.
The EU team included Mr. Hans-Peter Schadek, acting Director for West and Central Africa at the EU, and Ambassador Michel Arrion, Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria, while the Diplomatic Adviser to the President of the UEMOA Commission, Mr. Moctar Ouane, also attended the meeting as an observer.
In their opening statements, the Co-Chairs and the ECOWAS Commission President underscored the growing spirit of close cooperation and joint action that have characterized the ECOWAS-EU relations within the framework of constructive political dialogue.
Directorate of Communications