15 May 2018
On 14 May, the Conference of European Churches, together with COMECE, the Quaker Council for European Affairs, and the Bahá’í International Community Brussels Office hosted a dialogue on partnership between the European Union and Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) regions.
The event was prepared in view of a new round of discussions about EU relations to developing countries from Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific regions. CEC Study Secretary Peter Pavlovic pointed out that, “fair and respectful partnership is an important and unavoidable dimension of relations between the EU and other continents. Europe is not an island on its own. Any discussion about future of the continent have to include Europe’s responsibilities outside of the continent and developing partnerships based on mutual listening and respect.”
The gathering brought together faith-based actors and policy-makers to discuss both the concept of partnership as well as how it might be implemented in terms of Europe’s relationship with the diversity of ACP nations.
A first round of discussion focused on how to approach and understand partnership, especially reframing the traditional donor-recipient paradigm to one based on mutuality and equality. Those gathered noted that there were many overlapping issues at stake, ranging from human rights, to political security, to food stability, that demand a more holistic approach to trade and development relationships. Importantly, partnership must always consider who is included and who benefits. A number of speakers also raised concerns relating to methodology, and how to rectify clearly existing power imbalances and develop respectful, fair partnerships.
Following these foundational discussions, the group turned to the implementation of partnership and the importance of developing people-centred approaches. Speakers stressed the necessity of balancing the priorities of all parties, cultivating open and democratic processes, and the critical importance of listening and understanding dialogue partners.
The event was well attended by civil servants from the European Institutions. They underlined the role of religions and faith-based organisations in developing EU partnerships and encouraged these organisations in continuing their engagement.
CEC’s contribution to the dialogue was developed in collaboration with ACT Alliance EU, including a contribution from Karine Sohet, senior policy officer for EU development policy and practice and also chair of European NGO working group on EU-ACP relations.