By James Mwale:
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Eisenhower Mkaka, says the existing relationship between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and European Union (EU) is an important driver to achieving the SADC Regional Integration Agenda.
Mkaka, who is also Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, was speaking in Lilongwe Wednesday in his opening remarks of the Extraordinary Summit of SADC Council of Ministers where he said deliberations would border around integration agenda in relation to the post-Cotonou Agreement.
The agreement is a new partnership which serves as a legal framework for the EU and 79 African, Pacific and Caribbean countries (ACP), which aims to strengthen the capacity of the two partners to address global challenges together.
“We appreciate the crucial role played by EU in various regional integration programs, especially in areas of good governance, climate change, youth empowerment, capacity building and infrastructure development among others.
“We look forward to more cooperation with EU under the European Union Organisation of the Africa Caribbean Pacific States (EU-OACPS) and other existing frameworks,” he said.
The agenda for the summit follows the August 2021 meetings where it was noted that there were risks and challenges associated with proposed approach in the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, the OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement and the Neighbourhood Development and International Cooperation Instrument.
He said if not addressed, the risks and challenges have the potential to fragment ACP countries and shift agenda-setting powers from Member States to EU and International Organisations.
The summit, which was held virtually, was preceded by SADC Senior Officials on October 4, 2021.