DIALOGUE 1 GHANA AND THE EUROPEAN UNION: A NEW PARTNERSHIP

The first College of Humanities Dialogue Series was held under the auspices of the Centre for European Studies on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at the Auditorium of the University of Ghana Law School. The event, graced by the Vice Chancellor, focused on EU-Africa Relations and featured two key presenters, Professor Ransford Gyampo, Director of the Centre for European Studies and Ambassador William Hanna, Head of the European Union Delegation in Ghana. It was attended by over 200 participants comprising faculty, members of the diplomatic corps, media practitioners and students of the College. In his welcome remarks, the Provost of the College of Humanities, Prof Samuel Agyei-Mensah noted that the idea behind the introduction of the Dialogue Series was to foster close collaboration between the University and its external stakeholders as well as introduce interdisciplinary collaborative research in the College. He commended the Advisory Board of the College for their timely suggestion and initiative that culminated in the introduction of the Dialogue Series.
In their brief remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Ebenezer Oduro Owusu and the chair of the College Advisory Board, Nene Amegatcher, commended the Provost and the College for the introduction of the Dialogue Series and stressed the need to sustain the initiative in order to bridge the lacuna between academia and the rest of the populace.
Speaking on the topic Overview of the European Union and Economic Partnership Agreement, Professor Ransford Gyampo undertook a historical overview of the formation of the European Union and discussed the European Partnership Agreement (EPA) noting its potential benefits and challenges. Professor Gyampo called on both the EU and the Government of Ghana to be active players in helping to educate and sensitize the public, particularly the trading community on the rudiments of the EPA. He called on Government to advance export trade by adding value and improving the standards of local export commodities to meet the requirements of the EU. Professor Gyampo noted that without a serious focus on export trade, the EPA may not benefit Ghanaians. While acknowledging the potential benefits of the EPA in helping Ghana’s fight against poverty and under-development, Professor Gyampo pointed out that there may be genuine concerns about the EPA which ought to be addressed in order to court popular support for and facilitate full implementation of the Agreement.
On his part, the Head of the EU Delegation argued that the fears, anxiety and paranoia of many Ghanaians about the EPA may be as a result of misinformation or total lack of understanding. Speaking on the topic Ghana and the European Union: A New Partnership, Ambassador William Hanna stated that the EPA will improve the fortunes of West African countries and give trade partners the opportunity to improve their gains. He noted that over the last forty years, the EU has focused on critical issues such as trade, health, human rights, migration and good governance in Ghana. He said the EU investment in Ghana had surpassed USD 500million. According to  him, “in the current context of globalization and trade liberalization, there are huge opportunities for developing countries to integrate into global markets to benefit from the increasing global trade flows through local product value additions.”
The Chairperson for the event, Professor Henrietta Mensah-Bonsu, Director of the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD) called on critics of the EPA to accept the Agreement and take advantage of the many opportunities it holds for the country. She reiterated the need for public education at all levels to ensure that people understand the concept.