The Cotonou Agreement’s main objectives are the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty and the gradual integration of African, Caribbean and Pacific States into the global economy, whilst adhering to the aims of sustainable development.
Partnership agreement 2000/483/EC between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000.
The Cotonou Agreement offers a framework for the European Union’s (EU) cooperation relations for the economic, social and cultural development of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP).
Centred on the target of reducing, and in the longer-term, eradicating poverty, the cooperation must also contribute to the peace and security and the democratic and political stability of the ACP states. In this regard, the partners to the agreement shall act jointly to gradually achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The Cotonou Agreement is based on equality between the partners and ownership of the development strategies. It was signed on 23 June 2000 for a period of 20 years and may be revised every five years.
The Agreement has a strong political dimension resulting in:
- regular political dialogue, aimed at strengthening cooperation and promoting an effective system of multilateralism;
- peace-building policies, conflict prevention and resolution. In this field, the partnership concentrates on regional initiatives and on building local capacities, and also on the involvement of regional organisations such at the African Union;
- promoting human rights, democratic principles based on the rule of law and transparent and accountable governance. A new procedure has been developed for cases of violation of these elements, stressing the responsibility of the country in question;
- identifying questions of common interest connected with general (regional integration) or specific (trade, military expenditure, drugs, organised crime, child labour and discrimination) issues;
- developing cooperation strategies, including an agenda for aid efficiency, sectoral policies concerning the environment, climate change, gender equality and migration;
- attention paid to the subject of security, in particular with regard to countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, provisions on the Statute of the International Criminal Court, provisions on international cooperation in the fight against terrorism and illegal trafficking.
The political dialogue is conducted in a flexible way, under either a formal or an informal framework and at the most appropriate territorial level. The regional organisations and national parliaments may also participate.
The Agreement envisages a substantial role for non-State actors (NSAs) during the design and implementation of development strategies and programmes. In particular, the NSAs are local authorities, civil society organisations and the private sector, which have access to specific partnership financing.
Development strategies and poverty reduction
The Agreement is based on an integrated approach which includes actions for promoting economic, social and human development, as well as regional integration. The action priorities are set for each country in accordance with the principle of differentiation.
Economic development focuses on:
- macro-economic and structural policies and reforms;
- sectoral policies (in particular, developing the industrial, agricultural, tourism, fisheries and traditional knowledge sectors);
- investment and development of the private sector, in particular the cooperation supports public sector investment in infrastructure which promotes the development of the private sector, economic growth and poverty eradication.
The key elements of social and human development concern:
- sectoral social policies regarding improving education, health and nutrition systems;
- youth issues, in particular participation in public life and exchanges between the partner countries;
- health and access to services, fighting diseases connected with poverty and sexual and reproductive health protection;
- cultural development.
Regional cooperation and integration are aimed at facilitating development in all sectors. Cooperation must also support inter- regional and intra-ACP cooperation schemes and initiatives, including those involving non-ACP developing countries. Regional cooperation and integration seek, among other things, to:
- accelerate diversification of the ACP States' economies;
- promote and expand trade, which equally benefits the least developed countries (LDCs) among the ACP States;
- implement sectoral reform policies at regional level.
Lastly, the development strategies systematically take into account three cross-cutting issues:
- gender equality;
- sustainable management of the environment and natural resources;
- institutional development and capacity building.
Economic and trade cooperation
The Agreement complies with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. It enables the ACP States to play a full part in international trade.
It provides for the negotiation of regional economic partnership agreements with a view to liberalising trade.
The Agreement highlights the vulnerable situation of the ACP states and the importance of cooperation and trade assistance. In this respect, cooperation on trade matters is not restricted to trading activities; it also extends to the protection of intellectual property rights and compliance with international labour standards.
The most vulnerable states
Special treatment is granted to the least developed, landlocked and island ACP States, and to post-conflict countries. They receive special attention in certain areas, namely on matters relating to food security, regional cooperation, transport infrastructure and communications.
The Council of Ministers meets once a year. It consists of members of the Council of the EU, the Commission and a member of the government of each ACP State. The presidency is held in turn by a member of the Council of the EU and by a member of the government of an ACP State.
It conducts the political dialogue and ensures that the Agreement is properly implemented. It may take decisions that are binding on the parties and draw up resolutions, recommendations and opinions. It may also delegate responsibilities to the Committee of Ambassadors. It presents an annual report to the Joint Parliamentary Assembly on the implementation of the Agreement.
The Committee of Ambassadors assists the Council of Ministers. It is made up of each Member State permanent representative to the EU, a Commission representative and a head of mission for each ACP State to the EU. Its presidency is held in turn by the representative of an EU Member State and by an ACP State.
The Joint Parliamentary Assembly is an advisory body made up of an equal number of Members of the European Parliament and representatives of the ACP States. The Assembly may adopt resolutions and submit recommendations to the Council of Ministers. It meets twice a year in plenary session, alternating between the EU and an ACP country. The members of parliament may also meet at regional or subregional level if desired.
Violation of essential elements of the Agreement
The Agreement lays down measures in cases of non-compliance with the requirements of essential elements of the Agreement, namely respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law.
The Agreement provides for a preliminary consultation procedure, however, in the absence of an acceptable solution, supplementary measures may be taken, including suspension of the Agreement, although this is a last resort.
The Cotonou Agreement represents a new phase in the cooperation between the ACP states and the EU. For certain ACP states, the cooperation started with the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957. It was extended with the two Yaoundé conventions and the four Lomé conventions.
|Act||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
OJ L 317, 15.12.2000
|Act(s)||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
OJ L 209, 11.8.2005
OJ L 287, 4.11.2010