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close this bookThe Courier N 130 Nov - Dec 1991 - Dossier: Oil - Reports: Kenya - The Comoros (EC Courier, 1991, 96 p.)
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LomV under way

On course for the year 2000 despite turbulent waters

LomV took effect on 1 September. As the 12 Member States of the Community and more than two thirds of the ACP Group have ratified it, the Convention, signed in the capital of Togo on 15 December 1989, is all set to go ahead. ACP laggards should read it carefully, for they will find that they get no financial or technical cooperation until they have ratified.

The dates were right for once, for on an international scene dominated by the consequences of the failed coup d’t in the Soviet Union and the crisis in Yugoslavia, with the attention and help of Europe called for as perhaps never before, the entry into effect of LomV came as a timely reminder of the Community’s attachment to its partners of the South. The EC has said that relations with its neighbours in the East would not be to the detriment of its longstanding friends on many occasions. This indeed was one of Commission President, Jacques Delors’ main messages during his visit to Senegal in March. And, after acting as an intermediary in fratricidal fighting in Angola, Portugal has made no secret of its intention of helping the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, all Lomignatories, as one of the main activities of its Presidency of the Council, scheduled to begin on I January.

History is now moving at a remarkable pace and the advantages of the Lomolicy could well be clearer now than they were 15 years ago when it started - first of all because of the stability of the agreement, which new lasts 10 years. No-one can remember why there was ever any hesitation about the European suggestion of extra duration. And those of the ACP Group who were reluctant to sign such a long contract are no doubt now not the last to rejoice that the Convention is signed and sealed, come what may, until the end of the century, with the principle of free access to the single market guaranteed until the year 2000.

The corollary of this lasting situation is predictability. This is another adrantage for the ACPs, particularly those, and there are many of them, in the throes of economic and political change, for they know exactly how muck money they can expect and what machinery to trigger if need be.

What about Stabex which, despite its undeniable usefulness, cannot alas perform the enormous task of stabilising the raw material markets all by itself? It can only help compensate for our partners’ lost export earnings. We may of course take comfort from the idea that the renewed Stabex which we have under LomV can limit the damage wrought by fluctuating commodity prices as it did before, but what we should actually be doing is concentrating on getting negotiations for the international commodity agreements off the ground again and the Community is in fact busy on the coffee and cocoa agreements, in close consultation with its ACP partners, in London.

Some of the innovations of the new Convention can be used as from now, and the structural adjustment policy support machinery, long-awaited by all those countries anxious to cushion the social effects of programmes entered into with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, is one of them. Together we shall ensure that the reform programmes are not just economically efficient, but socially and politically bearable too.

With decentralisation in mind, we can also new involve operators other than the States themselves in implementing financial and technical cooperation - one way of bringing the Convention closer to the ACP peoples and ensuring that it provides an even better response to the many, urgent concerns of their everyday lives. This will be one of Lom146;s practical contributions to democratising from the bottom up.

Now, more than ever before, we must cut through the red tape hindering our implementation of the Convention and we have joined our partners in seeking and clearing out any bottlenecks.

Most ACPs have set up indicative programmes with the Community, laying down cooperation priorities during the first five-year period, pending completion of the ratification procedure. With LomV now in effect, action is all-important.

Above all, let us not be diverted by the turbulent waters through which many of our ACP partners are currently sailing. Let us be clear-sighied enough to see that, beyond the pain and crisis of transition, matters, basically, are moving in the right direction; towards more participation, more freedom, more democracy and more economic efficiency. Upheavals may cost more in the short term, but participation and freedom are the sine qua non of genuine, lasting development in the long term.

Dieter Frisch