02 / 1999
1- The current situation of the PPAO
The various actions implemented by the PPAO (Programme Régional de Valorisation des captures de la Pêche Artisanale en Afrique de l’Ouest, a Regional Programme for the Exploitation of Non-industrial Fishing Catches in West Africa "), managed by ADEPA (Association Ouest Africaine pour le Développement de la Pêche Artisanale, "West-African Association for the Development of Small-Scale Fishing Industries")since 1994, are planned to continue as part of the Cost Estimate-Programme Year II, the planning sessions of which took place from February 1997 to April 1998.
Unfortunately we were paralysed by the end of the five-year Programme. This is due in part to the failure of the Evaluation of this stage: it discredited the Programme and gave rise to polemics between the active participants in the Programme, in particular a controversy between ADEPA and the European Union, which apparently do not share the same outlook concerning development.
This situation has led ADEPA to break with the European Union and to set up a new programme with other providers of funds. But the Monitoring Committee has attempted to halt this process by asking ADEPA to interrupt its new project; it requested a three-year extension of the PPAO in order to allow Professional Organisations (POs)to fulfil the needs they expressed during the planning sessions of the Cost-Estimate Programme Year II.
At the meeting in Praia (Republic of Cape Verde), held from December 1-3, 1998 and attended by National and Regional Officials with authority to make payments, EU Delegations and Representatives from Brussels, the ACP countries, in this case West African countries, had to face a refusal on the part of the European Union (EU)to extend certain so-called "problematical" programmes. In fact, it seems that a meeting of the Commission in Brussels had already taken this decision unilaterally before the Praia meeting, which was supposed to take it. The representatives of African countries opposed this unilateral decision which openly trampled all EU texts concerning partnership. Finally, after lengthy discussions, it was decided to extend the Programme for 18 months and not 3 years.
The conclusions reached at Praia specified that the Regional Official with authority to make payments of the PPAO (based in Sierra Leone)was to contact the Ivory Coast EU Delegation to study which actions could actually be implemented with concrete results in a given lapse of time.
In the meantime, civil war resumed in Sierra Leone. The Official with authority to make payments could not leave his country. In spite of this situation, things could have moved if Brussels had not persisted in the position it held before Praia, hardly concealing its will to ignore whatever decisions the meeting might take and its refusal to apply them.
The situation is just barely beginning to unwind: a letter from the Ivory Coast EU Delegations authorises the Technical Secretariat of the PPAO to continue its activities for three months, pending a final decision.
2- The Future
For the time being the future of the PPAO is blurred. We know that, theoretically, no other decision can overrule the decision taken in Praia. However, in this partnership, one party is deemed inferior by the other: so we can expect situations as those described earlier to occur. The EU attaches no significance whatsoever to Partnership principles and rules established by the Lomé Convention. At the EU Delegation in Abidjan, people in charge declare that the Programme will continue but that an external Technical Support will have to study how this extension will be carried out. But as long as this has not been materialised by a duly signed written document, the deadlock has not really been overcome.
In any case, with or without the European Union, ADEPA is ready to continue to work in the West African Small-Scale Fishing sector. Above all, it does not want to loose the experience acquired by the PPAO and intends to meet the many urgent needs of this sector’s operators.
[[Written for the public debate "Actors and processes of the cooperation", which could feed the next Lome Convention (European Union/ACP countries relations). This debate, animated by the FPH, has been started by the Cooperation and Development Commission of the European Parliament and is supported by the European Commission.]