The European Organisations Multilateral desk is a sub-directorate under the European Organisations Chief Directorate, and is mandated to deal with all issues relating to ACP-EU, SADC-EU and Africa-EU relations, encompassing a broad section of dialogues and co-operation.
What is important to note is that the desk is only responsible for the political aspect of the relations between the EU, meaning that issues of a technical nature are left to the Government Department who’s technical abilities and knowledge on the subject places them in a better position to put forward South Africa’s positions and objectives within the relevant field. All the political dimensions of the engagements are conducted by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, and therefore, with regards to EU Multilateral issues, by the EU Multilateral desk within the Department.
The desk will also advise the lead Department in negotiations regarding all political matters which may have an influence on the negotiations, or the political consequences of a proposal by the other party within negotiations. Additionally, in preparation for negotiations, the desk may be asked for assistance on political issues by the Department conducting the negotiations on technical aspects.
The desk also sometimes finds itself conducting the role of a facilitator between the European Union and the relevant technical Department within government, often to start negotiations or reach some kind of understanding on the possibility for negotiations. Ultimately all negotiations commence as a political agreement or understanding following which the technical matters are negotiated by the Department with the technical knowledge and capabilities.
Multilateralism is a complex set of engagements with many countries conducting relationships with one another using a specific body which allows for the facilitation of these relationships. As such, the ACP group is a powerful player in the global arena, and allows for increased South-South Co-operation between South Africa and the most of the developing world.
It is through these relationships that South Africa can realise two of its key foreign policy objectives within one structure. That is: South-South Co-operation, and North-South Dialogue. These dialogues are essential for the progression of South Africa into the international arena, and the enhancement of development opportunities on the continent, and elsewhere in the world.
What the Website Contains
The website is aimed at providing information to the public and civil society organisations regarding the work done in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation by the European Organisations Multilateral Desk. As such visitors will find information regarding the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, the various forums in which South Africa participates under ACP-EU co-operation.
The website also contains a map of the ACP countries together with a list of countries which is then also cross-referenced with other ‘South’ centred political groupings such as NAM and the G77. This has been done in order to indicate the powerful value of ACP-EU relations.
Additional to these maps, one will also find a map of the European Union and a list of member states which has also been cross-referenced with NATO member states in order to provide information as to the benefits of the ACP-EU relationship, and in this instance Peace and Security in particular.
Finally, there are also some facts and figures about the economies of the European Union and the ACP respectively in order to show the visitor the differences in development, as well as the subsequent development opportunities that could be gained through effective and equal relations between both the EU and the ACP.