Brussels, 31 January 2011
Commission welcomes opening of consultations with Guinea-Bissau due to failure to respect democratic principles
The Commission today welcomes the Council's decision to open consultations with Guinea-Bissau, following the Commission's proposal from 20 December 2010. This initiative is based on Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement and reflects concerns about the situation in Guinea-Bissau in terms of respect for democratic principles and the rule of law. The decision also indicates a willingness to put in place a strategy to end the crisis together with the various parties involved. Part of EU development cooperation will be preliminary suspended.
European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs said:”Today, the EU unanimously followed the proposal of the Commission calling to start consultations with Guinea Bissau in order to discuss the situation with regard to democratic principles and respect for the rule of law. I hope that this dialogue will help resolve the situation and lay solid foundations for Guinea-Bissau's long term development.”
Pending the outcome of the consultations, the Commission will temporary suspend part of its ongoing development cooperation, for example in the field of budget support or security sector reform programmes. However, humanitarian measures or assistance directly benefiting the population will continue. In the context of the European Development Fund and the EU budget, €120 million has been allocated to Guinea-Bissau from 2007 to 2013. These funds were notably intended to support the country in strengthening the rule of law and democracy (reform of the administration, the justice system, the security forces, etc.), as well as facilitating the population’s access to basic services, such as water and energy.
In the case of satisfactory commitments by the country's government, development cooperation could be gradually resumed.
A mutiny by part of the army on 1 April 2010 led to illegal detentions. In addition, individuals linked to the rebellion or suspected of being involved in illegal activities were appointed to high-ranking positions in the armed forces. The mutiny also halted the process of reform in the security sector (police, army, justice system, etc.), which is essential for peace, security and sustainable development in Guinea-Bissau, as well as for the fight against drug smuggling and organised crime.
Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement
Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement states inter alia that, if a Party considers that the other Party has failed to fulfil an obligation stemming from respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, the situation should be examined thoroughly with a view to seeking a solution acceptable to the Parties. To this end, it invites the other Party to hold consultations so that together they can carry out a thorough and constructive examination of the situation, enabling the Party concerned to take measures to remedy the situation.