Central African Economic and Monetary Community - Explained
What is the Central African Economic and Monetary Community?
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Table of ContentsWhat is the Central African Economic and Monetary Community?What does the Central African Economic and Monetary Community Do? The Central African Customs and Economic Union (UDEAC)The Birth of CEMACCEMAC structure and decision-making proceduresThe Conference of Heads of StateThe Monetary and the Economic UnionThe CEMAC CommissionThe CEMAC Parliament and the Court of JusticeThe Ministerial CouncilsAcademic Research for Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC)
What is the Central African Economic and Monetary Community?
The Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) is generally defined as an African Union Economic Community that facilitates Central African Regional Economic Cooperation. It aims at achieving collective sovereignty, increasing the living standard of its people and maintaining economic stability through harmonious cooperation. With a population of around 37 million people, it covers a total area of approximately 3 million square kilometers. It covers together with the larger Central African Economic Community and the mostly inactive Economic Community (ECCAS). The ECMAC primarily comprise of 6 states which include: Gabon, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, the Republic of Congo, and Equatorial Guinea.
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What does the Central African Economic and Monetary Community Do?
Gabon, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of Congo, and Equatorial Guinea decided to give a further boost to their regional economic cooperation in the sense of a general reinstallation of regional cooperation on the African continent in the 1990's. The Douanire Union of the States of Central Africa (UDEAC), which was largely neglected, was established after their independence in the 1960's, they decided to replace it with a new regional community. The CEMAC was established in 1994 and came into force in 1999 following the ratification of the Treaty. The re-start of Central African regional cooperation entailed a general review of UDEAC's system and goals and changes to the regional and global context. It included institutional restructuring and the establishment of new common institutions. The forerunners: The Federation of Equatorial French Africa (AEF) CEMAC has often been described by all six members as a young organization founded in 1994 and operational since the treaty was ratified in 1999. Nevertheless, the historical origins can indeed be traced back to the early post-colonial or even colonial period. In the French colonial era, the first steps towards regional integration were laid. Although the AEF had been disbanded in 1958, the newly independent States had revived their concept of regional cooperation between them during the 1960s, as their members gained semi independence. The first efforts made by the AEF to form the community failed because it lacked commitment and the young states were uncertain about accepting any type of heteronomy once again.
The Central African Customs and Economic Union (UDEAC)
was established in 1964 by Cameron, Gabon, the CAR, Chad and the Congo-Brazzaville Republic, and became operational in 1966; Equatorial-Guinea decided to join the Community in 1984. The Union undoubtedly succeeded in:
- Completing several infrastructure and construction projects.
- Harmonizing the national tax and customs systems.
- Consulting and collaborating regularly with the policy makers of newly established states.
Despite its many accomplishments, it lacked in operational capacities which include:
- Member states' lack of commitment
- Financial deficits as a result of unequal contribution payments and 1980's economic crises.
- Lack of communication and cooperation among members.
- Inadequate control of successful decision and guideline implementation.
All these made its progress slow and finally it became totally inactive.
The Birth of CEMAC
In 1994, the member countries of UDEAC decided to provide new impetus to their regional cooperation in accordance with the general revival of regionalization initiatives on the African continent; after which they agreed to launch a full process of reform. The CEMAC produced thereafter was to substitute and reinforce the customs union. The treaty of NDjamna concluded in 1999 established the Community as its main aims for converging and monitoring national economic policies, coordinating sectoral policies and creating a single market gradually. In July 1996, in Libreville, Gabon, an additional protocol to the treaty was concluded concerning the institutional and legal system of the state.
CEMAC structure and decision-making procedures
The functional architecture of CEMAC is much more complex than that of its predecessors, even though it was built on the foundations of its predecessor. The CEMAC is focused on four major bodies, in addition to the Executive Secretariat, the Ministerial Councils and the Conference of Heads of State. Although there are several other regional bodies, the four major bodies include:
- The Monetary Union (UMAC).
- The Economic Union (UEAC).
- The Parliament.
- The Court of Justice.
In the framework of the common legal system provided for, under the treaty of N'Djamna, each of these four bodies has the same legal force in relation to a special convention as the treaty.
The Conference of Heads of State
The political leaders of Members gathered every year in the Conference of Heads of State are given the main decision-making power ( which are taken by consensus) and the presidency of the Conference shall revolve and each year shall, by alphabetical order, be entrusted to the head of state of another Member State. The principal role of the Conference is to establish the central principles and structures of the Society; it, however, also determines whether new members should be admitted or not. It appoints the heads of most of the bodies of the Community, including the executive secretary and his deputy, the governor, the vice-governor and general secretary of the BEAC and the directors of any of its affiliated bodies.
The Monetary and the Economic Union
The two main pillars of the Community which are supposed to guide and establish the process of regionalization are the Monetary Union UMAC and the Economic Union UEAC, hence, making UMAC rely on the predefined UDEAC structure. The main institution of UMAC continues to be the BEAC which produces a common currency Franc CFA and ensures its stability through monetary, exchange and reserve definition and management in the Member States. The other core element of CEMAC, the UEAC economic union, is less advanced at present and is still being developed. Notwithstanding a very detailed body of legislation, the implementation of UEAC has so far been slower than expected and is currently behind schedule.
The CEMAC Commission
The CEMAC Executive Secretariat is the central management and administrative body. In 2007, the Heads of State decided to transform the Secretariat in the Commission in order to make it a stronger and sufficiently independent institution. The Commission is comprised of an equal number of commissaries from every Member State headed by a President and a Vice-President following the example of the European Union. Four Commissioners in the areas of common market, infrastructures and sustainable development, human rights & good governance and economic and monetary policies were appointed as the First Commission in June 2008. They were responsible for all policy matters. For a period of four years, Commissioners shall be appointed by the Conference of the Heads of State.
The CEMAC Parliament and the Court of Justice
The other two CEMAC institutions are the Community Parliament and the Court of Justice. These institutions present a supranational democratic dimension that has not existed before and which seems to have broken with the intergovernmental tradition of UDEAC. The Court of Justice located in NDjamna, which has been established since the year 2000, is made up of a Judicial Chamber and an Audit Chamber which contains legal audit functions; whose activities are headed and overseen by a First President. It consists of two courts, each consisting of six judges, serving a judicial role and an audit role. CEMAC's budget and accounts are monitored by the Judicial House to comply with CEMAC treaties and agreements and the Audit House.
The Ministerial Councils
The implementation of the two Unions has two Ministerial Councils: the UMAC Ministerial Committee, and the UEAC Ministerial Council. The meetings of each Member State consist of three ministers each and are held twice a year. Both councils have a key role to play in maintaining the leadership of the two Unions and fostering progressive policy harmonization. In addition, the UMAC Ministerial Committee oversees the activities of the BEAC, authorizes the Bank's budget and accounts and reviews its annual report. The committee members observe a unanimous decision or a 5/6 vote. As far as the UEAC Ministerial Council is concerned, decisions are usually taken by consensus or by a simple or qualified majority in accordance with the matters in question.