After the war in Ukraine, we cannot continue business as usual – Multilaterism is the way forward

Carlos Zorinho MEP is the President of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly

Hans Heid MEP is the S&D Coordinator for the Delegation of the ACP-EU to the European Parliament.

We can continue to do business as usual, pretending that nothing has changed in the international arena after the criminal Russian invasion of Ukraine, or we can do our bit in the upcoming joint parliamentary assembly between African, Caribbean, Pacific states and the European Union. Can move from condemnation to concrete actions. , The next ACP-EU assembly, which begins in Strasbourg on Friday 1 April, will face a roundabout decision: whether to turn multilateralism into a mere dialectical exercise, leaving important decisions up to power relations between states, or vice versa multilateralism. have to make. Cooperation – which does not mean common thinking, but shared values ​​and objectives – is the decisive decision-making center of the international arena.

The shocking images coming from Ukraine, along with Syria, Afghanistan and some regions of Africa, have reinforced our belief in multilateralism as the only way forward. Multilateralism, yes, but a pragmatic and mutually beneficial multilateralism.

At the United Nations General Assembly, several African countries refused to speak out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, perhaps out of fear that they would take away security and defense aid provided by the Russian-led Wagner Group or financial and infrastructural investments from China. will lose

Yet the African continent is already feeling the bitter effects of the war due to rising food and energy prices in Ukraine. In Egypt, the price of unsubsidized bread has risen by 25% or 50% in some bakeries since late February. The price of cooking oil in Mali is skyrocketing. In South Africa, the government is considering limiting petrol prices and rationing the amount of fuel sold to motorists.

A pragmatic and equally beneficial multilateralism for Europe and African, Caribbean, Pacific countries to respond quickly in case of need, provide assistance, but help free states from short-term financial, security or food-supply blackmail. There must be a way forward. ,

Therefore, multilateralism is fundamental to strengthening the geopolitical role of the EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly as a ‘safety net’, as well as its negotiating role in relation to other actors on the world stage.

Therefore, we believe that the signing and implementation of the Post-Cotonou Agreement becomes even more urgent. A further extension of the Cotonou Agreement would be a very bad sign that the parties involved, and especially the EU, should not give in at this historic moment.

The entry into force of the Agreement will allow a smoother framework for its implementation, with key initiatives and tools, in particular the Global Europe and Europe Gateway, as well as the EU-African Union strategy. The parliamentary dimension of the ACP-EU partnership, strengthened in the post-Kotonu agreement by creating the second largest multiparty parliamentary assembly in the world (after the United Nations) and three regional assemblies, is an asset to the partnership for building strong ties. Civil society represents the diversity of the people and countries that are part of it.

We have reiterated many times that Europe and Africa are continents united by their history, diversity, proximity and value of multilateralism. New forms of relationship will be needed to transform the donor-recipient relationship into a mature partnership of equals. However, this historic relationship needs to be strategic, pragmatic and effective if we are to stop other actors, such as Russia or China, driven by questionable attitudes and values, filling in the gaps that we leave wide open. .

A mature ACP-EU equitable partnership can be the engine that drives a strong strategy based on strong goals and clear, shared objectives. It can contribute to growth and sustainable development, the fight against inequality and poverty, and improve the quality of life of people around the world.

The common fight against COVID-19 should be one of the first tests of this new partnership we need to help African countries develop the infrastructure to deliver vaccines.

Differences and conflicting interests may still exist, particularly around the legal regime of migration and effective policies to protect and require a legitimate sovereign defense power.

There is no doubt that the most beneficial win-win solution in the long run lies in the spirit of the post-Cotonou agreement and mutually beneficial goals. Multilateralism is the way forward. The war in Ukraine is another clear proof of the risks when that path is not chosen.

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