ACP service contract with the EC
PRESENTATION OF THE ACP SERVICE CONTRACT WITH THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
Early February 2002 the Coimbra Group (CG) signed a service contract with the European Commission to carry out a preparatory study for a Higher Education Cooperation Programme between the EU and ACP countries.
The contract had an initial duration of 11 months and aimed to provide the European Commission with a programme proposal in order to implement the Common Framework for Cooperation with Third Countries in the Higher Education sector. Last December (2002) the European Commission granted a contract extension of two and a half months in order for the Coimbra Group to be able to carry out the extra tasks agreed upon in last year’s follow-up meetings. A new two-months’ extension was granted in March 2003 in order to continue the dialogue with the European Commission and to finalize all the tasks.
Regular follow-up meetings were held with the EC during these months.
For the purpose of this contract an Executive Committee was set up. Its members are Prof. Joaquin Carrasco (Salamanca, Chair of the ACP Task Force), Prof. Pierpaolo Faggi (Padova) and Mr. Christian Duqué (Louvain). The Executive Committee together with the ACP Task Force worked closely with the CG Office in Brussels.
A call for experts was launched among the CG universities. The CG Office received 86 applications from 17 Universities. 34 experts carried out 21 field missions in the ACP region, the geographical distribution being as follows: 18 missions in Africa, 2 in the Caribbean and 1 in the Pacific. The ACP Task Force was consulted for these decisions
Missions were carried out mainly in September and October 2002. The visited countries included: Ghana, Sudan, Botswana, Dominican Republic-Haiti, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Barbados, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo-Congo Brazzaville, Senegal-The Gambia, Angola-Mozambique, Zambia, Papua New Guinea-Fiji, Madagascar, Mali, Burkina Faso, Rwanda-Burundi, Tanzania-Malawi, Kenya, Benin-Togo, Cameroon and Gabon.
During the consultations, experts were asked to take into account the general objectives and guidelines of the implementation of the Common Framework: perspectives for co-operation within institutionalised networks; identification of needs and priority fields of intervention. The Terms of Reference for missions were elaborated by the Executive Committee and the CG Office, and they were approved by the ACP Task Force and the European Commission. The main issues to be analysed by the experts were:
– Overall framework of co-operation (education national policy, presentation of the system of higher education, other donors’ programmes in higher education, …);
– Identification of needs in higher education;
– Identification of activities with regard to the Common Framework;
– Management capacity of international university co-operation.
Mission reports were analysed and evaluated by the Executive Committee and the Office. On that basis, the Executive Committee and the Office gathered beginning of December to work on a draft final report and a financing proposal for a future EU-ACP Co-operation Programme in the field of Higher Education. The proposal was finalized and approved by the ACP Task Force in a meeting held in Brussels on December 16.
A first version of the final report was passed on to the European Commission late December 2002. However, the EC continued the dialogue with the executive Committee and the CG Office during the first months of the year. Extra support was offered by expert Prof. Jean-Claude Willame (Louvain) who was on mission to Congo-Kinshasa and Brazzaville and later on invited by the executive Committee to monitor the finalization of the documents.
The ACP Task Force gathered again on the occasion of the General Assembly in Granada (April 23, 2003) where the Executive Committee presented the final programme proposal to the Task Force and had it approved. A final report will be presented to the European Commission on May 15, 2003.