ECOWAS sets up Committee to study implications of membership of Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritania

At the end of the 52nd Summit of Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, Nigeria December 16, 2017, the bloc has set up a Committee of Heads of State and Government to adopt the terms of reference and supervise a comprehensive study on the implications of the membership. The Committee comprises leaders of Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea and Nigeria.

This decision follows an earlier action on the matter by ECOWAS when it commissioned the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to conduct a study into the possible implications of Morocco joining the bloc. ECA was expected to have submitted its report to be discussed at the just ended Summit. It is not known if ECA has finished its work, because no mention was made of the report.

Three north African countries have applied for various statuses in ECOWAS. Morocco has applied for membership, Tunisia for observer status and Mauritania for associate membership. Mauritania was a founding member of ECOWAS but left the bloc in December 1999 to join the Maghreb Union, the bloc for north African countries. The three countries are all members of the Maghreb Union. The other members are Algeria and Libya.  

In a communiqué issued at the end of the Summit, ECOWAS said “regarding the applications received from Morocco for membership, Tunisia for observer status and Mauritania for associate membership, Authority decides to set up a Committee of Heads of State and Government comprising the Togolese Republic, Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, Republic of Ghana, Republic of Guinea and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to adopt the terms of reference and supervise a comprehensive study on the implications of the membership.”

According to the communiqué, Authority notes that matters of accession to the ECOWAS Treaty and the granting of observer status to third countries should be preceded by the appropriate institutional framework which constitutes the legal basis for such a decision.

“In that respect, Authority instructs the President of the Commission to immediately commence the preparation of the appropriate Community Act which will set out the decision-making process within the Community, in accordance with Article 9 paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Revised ECOWAS Treaty. Ongoing Institutional Reforms within Community Institutions,” it said.

All the Heads of State of the 15 member countries were present at this meeting.

The leaders expressed satisfaction at the favourable economic growth prospects of the region, citing the real GDP growth rate projected at 2.1 per cent in 2017 compared to 3.1 per cent in 2018, against 0.2 per cent in 2016, due largely to the expected recovery in the prices of major exports by ECOWAS Member States, as well as improved security in oil producing regions.

ECOWAS urged Member States to continue the ongoing structural reforms so as to be less vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations and improve their economies’ resilience to exogenous shocks in order to sustain the gains made

On the creation of a monetary union meeting embraced the conclusions of the 4th session of the Presidential Task Force on the ECOWAS Single Currency, and lauded the progress made by all ECOWAS Institutions involved in the implementation of the roadmap for the ECOWAS single currency and reaffirms its commitment to continue and fast-track the ECOWAS economic and monetary programme.

The Heads of State and Government reiterated their firm commitment to work towards attaining the objectives of the ECOWAS founding fathers to make the region a monetary union in order to accelerate the building of a region of prosperity and solidarity.

In that regard, they urged Member States to take necessary measures to comply with the main convergence criteria set out for the creation of a viable and credible union.

On the human trafficking situation in Libya, ECOWAS expressed profound indignation at the inhuman treatment of African migrants and refugees in Libya as reported in the media.

“It condemns in very strong terms the modern day slavery and is committed to working with partner international organisations to rapidly put an end to these barbaric activities,” it said.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
Copyright © 2017 by Creative Imaginations Publicity
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