1. The twenty-second Political Dialogue Meeting at Ministerial Level between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU) was held in Abuja on 30th November 2018 under the Co-Chairs of Amb. Mustapha L. Sulaiman, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing the Chair of ECOWAS Council of Minister and H.E. Hubert Fuchs, State Secretary of Finance, Republic of Austria, as chair of the Council of the European Union, on behalf of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
2. Mr Jean Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, actively participated in the meeting. Mr Moctar Ouane, General Delegate for Peace and Security, representing the President of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) Commission also attended the meeting as an observer.
3. In their opening statements, the Co-Chairs applauded the growing cooperation and collaboration that has characterized the relations between the EU and ECOWAS. The Participants particularly underscored their shared values and the increasing convergence of views in the areas of peace and security, governance, migration, trade and other development-related issues.
1. Institutional Development
4. The meeting took note of the institutional development and reform efforts being made by both ECOWAS and EU. EU welcomed ECOWAS’ implementation of its administrative, financial and institutional performance. The EU provided assurance as to continued cooperation between ECOWAS and the EU in the context of Brexit.
2. Political, Peace and Security Situations
5. The Participants reaffirmed the importance of advancing peace and security in the ECOWAS region and their willingness to deepen their cooperation in these areas in line with ECOWAS Protocols and regional mechanisms, which also conforms to the relevant provisions of the AU Constitutive Act, the Protocol relating to the establishment of the AU Peace and Security Council as well as the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the area of Peace and Security between the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional mechanisms (RMs) for prevention, management and Resolution of conflicts signed in 2008. EU particularly expressed its appreciation of the measures being taken by ECOWAS in strengthening peace and security as well as consolidation of the gains of democratization process in West Africa.
a-/ Country Specific
6. ECOWAS briefed EU on the progress made so far by the Facilitator H.E. Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea and the ECOWAS Ministerial Monitoring Committee through the various missions to Guinea Bissau to assess the progress on the Roadmap leading to the legislative elections. The EU reaffirmed its support to the ECOWAS-led mediation which has resulted in the adoption of a Roadmap.
7. The Participants shared their concerns on logistical, technical, financial and political challenges in the preparation of the elections.
8. The Participants took note of the efforts made by ECOWAS towards realizing peaceful resolution of the political and institutional crisis in Guinea Bissau. They urged all political stakeholders and civil society in Guinea Bissau to demonstrate their full commitment to the roadmap adopted on 14th April 2018 in Lomé. They reaffirmed their resolve to support the successful conduct of the legislative election. They also commended the financial, technical and material support extended by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as well as EU's financial contribution towards the conduct of the legislative election.
9. ECOWAS informed that, pursuant to decisions taken by the Authority at the 53rd Ordinary Session of the Heads of State and Government, held in Lomé, Togolese Republic, on 31st July 2018, several activities have been conducted and several measures taken at the national and regional levels towards the implementation of the roadmap. The EU reaffirmed its support to the ECOWAS-led mediation and took note of the progress made towards implementation of the major decisions, to find a lasting solution to the political crisis in Togo.
10. The Participants emphasized the importance of commitment by all stakeholders to maintain a spirit of consultation and dialogue. To this end, they urged all the parties to the crisis to demonstrate political will and determination in order to reach a consensual arrangement for a lasting solution to the crisis.
11. The EU expressed strong support for the Inter-Togolese dialogue and commended the two facilitators, H.E. Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, and H.E. Professor Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea for the progress made.
12. The Participants exchanged views on the security and humanitarian situation in north-east Nigeria. Both sides commended the progress made in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency but noted with concern the recent increase in attacks by terrorist groups. Referring to its support provided to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), the EU expressed its commitment to support the countries of the Lake Chad Basin in addressing the multiple remaining challenges in this region through a comprehensive approach.
13. The Participants noted the challenging general security environment ahead of the 16th February 2019 election in Nigeria, occasioned by mainly Boko Haram activities in the north east, the Farmers-Herders conflict in the Middle Belt regions, among other threats. They called for increased efforts in dealing with these threats. In particular, they highlighted the importance of addressing, among others, the root causes of conflicts and the basic needs of the population related to the strengthening of resilience, humanitarian assistance and humanitarian access to the affected areas.
14. The Participants encouraged all stakeholders to implement without delay the Algiers Peace Agreement signed in 2015. The participants stressed the need for the Monitoring Committee to be as inclusive as possible, particularly concerning women participation. They welcomed the signing on 15th October 2018 of a “Pact for Peace” between the UN and the Government of Mali with the aim of expediting the implementation of the provisions of the Algiers Peace Agreement. They further applauded the recent progress in the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration process. The meeting called on all the national actors to redouble their efforts towards peace and reconciliation, and to take the necessary actions to remove all impediments to the implementation of the Peace Agreement.
Status of elections in the region
15. The EU commended ECOWAS for its supportive role that contributed to the peaceful outcomes in the Presidential elections held in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali, and expressed its full support to the agenda of democratic reforms and respect of human rights in the entire region. The Participants lauded the positive contribution of the EU and ECOWAS Election Observation Missions (EOM) conducted in Mali.
16. ECOWAS informed the EU about the upcoming elections in Member States, including Presidential elections in Nigeria, Senegal and Guinea Bissau in 2019, as well as parliamentary elections in Togo, Guinea Bissau scheduled for the last quarter of 2018 and in Mali, in 2019. ECOWAS further informed that local elections are scheduled to take place on 1st December 2019 in Senegal.
17. With regard to elections in Nigeria, the Participants stressed the importance of seeing free, fair, credible and peaceful elections in Nigeria. They welcomed the engagement of ECOWAS, AU, the UN and the EU in support of the process. The Participants also noted the assurance and commitments given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security agencies and other relevant institutions.
18. The EU applauded solid democratic credentials in the region and commended the commitment of ECOWAS to ensuring credible accession to and exercise of state power in accordance with constitutional provisions. The Participants agreed to encourage increased participation of women in political processes, including creating equal opportunity for political positions.
19. The Participants encouraged all the countries to ensure a fully democratic, inclusive and peaceful environment for the conduct of these upcoming elections. They agreed on the need to accompany and provide the necessary support for the successful conduct of the upcoming elections in Member States through all appropriate means, including support to civil society organisations and election observation missions.
b-/ Regional Security and Stability
20. The Meeting considered the overall security situation in West Africa with a special focus on the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea and assessed the ECOWAS peace missions and prospects for ECOWAS-ECCAS cooperation.
21. The Participants strongly condemned the multiple terrorist attacks on the countries of the region and welcomed the efforts of the States that deployed forces to deal with the scourge, particularly the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) of the Lake Chad Basin to fight against Boko Haram and the G5 Sahel Joint Force. They reaffirmed their support to these forces and agreed on the need for a holistic approach to address the challenges facing this region within the framework of the African Peace and Security Architecture and the existing regional mechanisms. They furthermore emphasized the importance of strengthening collaboration and building confidence between the G5 Sahel Joint Force and the local communities in the areas of operation.
22. The Participants supported the efforts of the African Union Commission, in accordance with the decisions of the 782nd meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council, to revive the Nouakchott Process, an appropriate framework for the promotion of peace and security in the Sahelo-Saharan region, with a view to ensuring effective coordination of ongoing efforts in the region, particularly in the context of the G5 Sahel and the MNJTF. The participants welcomed the upcoming Coordination Conference of Partners for the financing of the Priority Investment Programme 2019-2021 of the G5 Sahel to be held on 6th December 2018 in Nouakchott.
23. The participants recalled the principles included in the UN Security Council Resolution 2417 (2018), recalling the link between armed conflict and violence and conflict-induced food insecurity, and stressing the fact that armed conflict can have a devastating impact on agricultural production and livelihoods. They encouraged the adoption of targeted social safety net actions to mitigate effects of the security measures on local food security and implemented in areas affected by the ongoing armed conflicts.
Maritime Security and Safety in the Gulf of Guinea
24. The Participants welcomed the progress made in this area with the operationalization of the Multinational Maritime Coordinating Centers (MMCCs) and the West African Regional Centre for Maritime Safety (CRESMAO). Noting with concern the continued occurrence of piracy and robbery events in the region, they underscored the need to enhance the effectiveness of the Yaoundé Process and acknowledged in that regard, the importance of providing the necessary conditions for the work of the Inter-Regional Coordination Center.
25. To that end, they called for diligent implementation of the projects identified in this area under the 11th EDF Regional Indicative Programme (RIP), particularly the Programme to Support the West African Integrated Maritime Security Strategy (SWAIMS) and the Programme for the Enhancement of West African Regional Fisheries Governance (PESCAO).
26. On the promotion of peace in the region, the Participants welcomed the important contributions of the ECOMIB and ECOMIG Missions to the stabilization of the political and security situation in Guinea Bissau and The Gambia.
27. The European Union welcomed ECOWAS’ determination to ensure stability in its space, in accordance with the relevant texts and in conformity with the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and reaffirmed its readiness to continue to accompany ECOWAS in this area.
28. ECOWAS expressed its gratitude to the EU for its key technical and financial support in the deployment and management of ECOMIB and ECOMIG. Both parties agreed to work together to mobilize financial support from other partners, including the African Union and the United Nations, for the ECOWAS-led peace support operations.
29. They also reaffirmed the willingness to sustain their stabilization efforts in Guinea Bissau and The Gambia, notably through successful implementation of the defense and security sector reforms.
Joint ECOWAS/ECCAS Summit
30. ECOWAS briefed the EU on the current status of its cooperation with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in the area of peace and security, with particular emphasis on the foundations and main conclusions of the Joint Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) held on 30th July 2018 in Lomé, Togolese Republic.
31. The European Union strongly encouraged the strengthening of ECOWAS-ECCAS cooperation and indicated its readiness to provide political, technical and financial support for the implementation of the Final Declaration of the Joint Summit on Peace, Security, Stability, Security and the Fight against Terrorism and Violent Extremism, signed by the Heads of State and Government.
3. Challenges and Opportunities: Growth, Job Creation, Demography and Migration
32. The Participants exchanged views on the demographic challenges in West Africa and their impact on economic growth, urbanization, employment, and security. The Participants pointed out that this development requires adequate responses through, inter alia, the formulation of effective training and employment policies, the enhancement of the capacity of economic systems to offer decent and productive jobs opportunities, especially for youth, but also through the strengthening of partnerships.
33. ECOWAS welcomed in particular the initiative of EU to establish a new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs. The Participants reaffirmed their willingness to strengthen their strategic relationship as part of this new alliance.
34. The Participants stressed the need for structuring investments, particularly in the areas of Infrastructure (Transport / Energy), Agro-industry through the promotion of value chains, strengthening human capital through education, vocational training and the development of digital skills, as well as the development of financing systems with adequate guarantee mechanisms for very small and medium-sized enterprises. The Participants agreed to continue the dialogue on these key issues of investment in order to ensure not only the effective implementation of the EU External Investment Plan (EIP) in West Africa but also to foster ownership of the financing mechanisms of this Plan by the regional development banks (ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development - EBID, West African Development Bank - BOAD).
35. With regard to Migration, the Participants welcomed the ongoing efforts as part of the implementation of the Joint Valletta Action Plan to address the challenges of migration and mobility. They particularly welcomed the scope of the interventions of the EU Trust Fund, in the Sahel and the Lake Chad region.
36. The Participants shared the intention to continue their efforts while ensuring the promotion of a long-term, holistic and balanced approach in addressing the challenges of migration and mobility. They reiterated the need to tackle the root causes of irregular migration, stressing the importance of actions aimed at creating economic opportunities, decent jobs and supporting vocational training especially for young people and women.
37. Furthermore, they recognized the impact of climate change in the region and its adverse effects on peace and development. In this regard, the Participants stressed the need to take into account issues relating to climate into development programmes and stabilization strategies, in conformity with the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030.
38. ECOWAS reiterated the importance of the full implementation of the ECOWAS flagship Protocol on Free Movement of Persons to encourage skill, labour and talent mobility essentials to address the capacity gaps in the region. Furthermore, ECOWAS informed that its regional migration strategy covers a broad spectrum of intervention action pillars to mitigate the myriad of emerging migration challenges.
39. The Participants reaffirmed their commitment to the principles of solidarity, partnership and shared responsibility of Valletta and called for reinforced cooperation and dialogue on migration between Africa and Europe.
4. Regional Cooperation: State of Play and Perspective
Regional Integration and Trade
40. The Participants acknowledged the benefits of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) for their competitiveness, industrial strategies and development perspectives. They discussed the situation arisen from the non-signature of the regional EPA by all Member States and the implementation of interim EPAs and their impact on the regional integration process. ECOWAS reiterated the call of the 53rd session of the ECOWAS Authority requesting the EU for greater flexibility on the issue of the EPA, in particular the implementation schedule of the interim EPAs. The EU recalled the flexibility already provided. The Participants expressed hope that a solution would soon be found to progress on all these issues.
41. The Participants acknowledged the importance of facilitating the movement of goods across border. They welcomed the multi-partner Trade Facilitation West Africa (TFWA) Programme (co-funded by EU, USAID, Netherlands and Germany) aimed at improving the free and efficient movement of goods in the region and internationally through the reduction of time and cost of trade borne by the private sector in West Africa. They expressed their willingness to implement this programme and called on more partners to join in these efforts, which will boost trade and employment.
42. The Participants noted the progress made in the negotiations of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), which will create a single continental market for goods and services, for all the african countries with a combined population of 1.2 billion people, paving the way for accelerating the establishment of the continental Customs Union. The Participants shared their intention to support the ongoing continental negotiations.
State of play Regional Indicative Programme of the 11th EDF
43. The Participants welcomed the effective formulation of almost all of the 11th EDF RIP projects representing a commitment of more than 90% of the total dedicated regional envelope to support the implementation of the regional integration agenda in West Africa over the period 2014 - 2020.
44. The Participants reiterated the resolve to continue their efforts in the effective implementation of the 11th EDF RIP, in order to address particularly the security and environmental challenges in the region, but also the need to strengthen regional competitiveness and the role of the private sector
Perspective on ECOWAS-EU Cooperation After 2020
45. ECOWAS and the EU took note of the commencement of negotiations on future ACP-EU relations after 2020. They welcomed the willingness expressed by the negotiating parties to readjust these future relations in the light of the current and emerging global challenges and to strengthen their partnership towards the implementation of the development agenda and the realization of multilateral commitments.
46. In this context, the Participants reaffirmed the importance of regional integration as a means of strengthening the cooperation needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In that regard, ECOWAS and the EU welcomed the convergence of views between the negotiating parties on the need to promote regional integration and to take regional specificities into account in the future Agreement. In this respect, the need to ensure coherence and articulation of the links between the negotiating positions and the relevant regional policies contributing to deepening the regional integration agenda has been highlighted.
47. The Participants reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the strategic relations between ECOWAS and the EU after 2020. They take note of the ongoing discussions on the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. ECOWAS underscored the need to preserve the achievements of the cooperation, particularly gained under the EDF and to safeguard the key principles of the partnership after 2020.
48. The participants agreed to continue the dialogue on these issues in the framework of the Strategic Orientation Committee (SOC).
49. The next meeting of the EU-ECOWAS Political Dialogue will be held in Brussels at a date mutually agreed.