The African Union (AU) and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) need to work in coherence and synergy to achieve the successful integration of the Continent, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita said.
Speaking Thursday through video-conference at the 38th ordinary session of the AU Executive Council, Bourita underlined that the achievement of the African Economic Community (AEC), which was a goal for the founding fathers of the AU since 1963, should be facilitated by the establishment of the eight RECs.
Morocco welcomes the holding of the 2nd annual coordination meeting between the AU, the RECs, the Regional Mechanisms (RMs) and the Member States, with the aim of removing any difficulties related to cooperation between the AU and the 8 RECs, he added.
The 1991 Abuja Treaty for the establishment of the African Economic Community, as well as the 2063 agenda which outlines the main continental objectives, including the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area, traces the roadmap for the achievement of the African Economic Community, said Bourita, regretting the shortcomings both in the coordination between the AU and the RECs and in the African integration process noted in the 2020 report on regional integration.
In this regard, Bourita underlined that the 8 RECs recognized by the AU should remain the essential pillars for the realization of the AEC and that the distribution of work between the AU, the RECs, the Regional Mechanisms, and Member States and its implementation must be carried out within the framework of the AU reform agenda.
The objective must remain to ensure efficiency and optimization of resources by avoiding the overlap of mandates, insisted the Moroccan official, noting that the RECs as well as the AU retain their respective legal statutes and the distribution of work must be done on a voluntary collaborative basis in accordance with the protocol on AU-RECs relations.
As the core and pillar of continental integration, the RECs must be strengthened, while the necessary support needs to be provided to the RECs which are lagging behind in the integration process, said Bourita, adding that a balanced performance of the 8 RECs will allow the acceleration of a harmonious integration of the continent.
The RECs constituting the tripartite free trade zone will easily integrate into the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is a decisive step in favor of the achievement of the the African Economic Community, stressed the minister, noting that the holding of the 13th extraordinary summit on the AfCFTA contributed to give the necessary impetus to the effective realization of the zone, which on January 1, 2021, came into force.
Morocco welcomes this achievement and the adoption of the Johannesburg declaration adopted at the said summit, he said.
Bourita also pointed out that if the coronavirus pandemic is able to slow down regional integration in Africa and within the RECs, it is up to us to work together to build African solidarity against Covid-19 as a lever for regional integration.