ACP/EU Parliamentary officials to meet here next week

ACP/EU Parliamentary officials will focus on the Cariforum/ European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), regional integration and the EU regional strategy paper for the Caribbean when they meet here from February 25-27 at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC) Liliendaal.

This third Regional Meeting of the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) European Union (EU) Joint Parliamentary Assembly will also address several other issues including climate change and its impact on the region, security, human rights, the financial crisis and the narcotics trade, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett in an invited comment is reported to have told GINA that approximately 60 delegates from the Caribbean are expected to attend along with representatives of the African and Pacific states and the EU.

Among the delegates would be the Co-Presidents of the EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Glenys Kinnock from the United Kingdom and Wilkie Rasmussen of the Cook Islands, Pacific along with the Secretaries General of the ACP group and the European Parliament and representatives from the European Commission.

The Foreign Affairs Minister, GINA said, underscored the importance of the meeting as an opportunity for Guyana to participate in discussions on pertinent issues such as the EPA, which from its initial stage had generated much debate.

According to Rodrigues, Guyana will actively pursue its concerns at this meeting which is being held here for the first time while the previous two were held in Namibia and in Vanuatu in 2008.

The EPA is now in its first phase of implementation and the meeting will seek to address necessary components which are still to be formalized.

According to GINA, Guyana’s position on avoided deforestation would be one of the main issues that will be advanced at the meeting to encourage a united approach towards a suitable post- Kyoto framework to cater for market-based mechanisms for countries which are engaged in sustainable forest practices.

And also high on the agenda for discussions at the meeting will be  the effects of climate change and natural disasters on the region; security, human rights, elections and governance in the Caribbean; the financial and credit crisis and its impact on the region and the narcotics trade and its impact on the region.

GINA noted that Guyana signed the EPA in October 2008 after President Bharrat Jagdeo had lobbied successfully for the EU to include two clauses in the agreement that would allow for the agreement to be reviewed after its implementation and should any of the provisions of the EPA conflict with the Caricom Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, the revised treaty would take precedence, thereby safeguarding the regional integration process.

The second clause, GINA added, is for a review of the EPA every five years to look at the socio-economic impact of the agreement on the people of the region and a commitment by Europe to address the adverse impact.

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