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Brussels, 19 March 2010

Renewed impetus in the fight against poverty: the EU and ACP states initial the revised Cotonou Partnership Agreement

1. What is the Cotonou Partnership Agreement?

The Cotonou Partnership Agreement is the successor of the Yaoundé Conventions (1963 – 1975: EEC plus 18 African States) and the Lomé Conventions from 1975 until 2000 (Lomé I – Lomé IV bis; 46 states). The Cotonou Agreement was signed in 2000 for a period of 20 years and entered into force in April 2003 after the ratification process. It is designed to establish a comprehensive partnership, based on three complementary pillars: (i) development cooperation; (ii) economic and trade cooperation, and (iii) the political dimension. The Agreement is a huge step forward in ACP-EU and North-South relations which gives the framework for the EU relations with the biggest development grouping in the world. It is setting an innovative agenda in terms of political dialogue, non-state actors participation, trade and development and performance based management. The first revision of the Agreement was concluded in February 2005 and the revised agreement entered into force on 1st July 2008.

2. What are the objectives and principles of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement?

The partnership is centred on the objective of reducing and eventually eradicating poverty consistent with the objectives of sustainable development and the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy (Art. 1 of Cotonou Agreement). The fundamental principles are: equality of the partners and ownership of the development strategies; participation (central governments as the main partners, partnership open to different kinds of other actors; pivotal role of dialogue and the fulfilment of mutual obligations and differentiation and regionalisation.

3. What is the context that made necessary the second revision of the Cotonou Agreement?

The revision process takes place in accordance with Article 95 of the Cotonou Agreement which provides for a revision clause allowing the Agreement to be adapted every 5 years (with the exception of the provisions on economic cooperation and trade which are subject to a separate procedure). In February 2009 the council adopted the Commission's proposal for the negotiation guidelines. Before 1st March 2009 ACP and EU notified the provisions each party wished to revise. The negotiations were formally launched in May 2009 and will conclude on 19th March 2010.

4. Which were the main objectives of the 2nd revision?

The 2nd revision intends to enhance the regional integration, including the development of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, while reinforcing the all-ACP dimension. In addition, our cooperation and political dialogue under the new Agreement will address global challenges such as the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, climate change, HIV-Aids, State Fragility and food security. The new Agreement also foresees capacity building and promotion of domestic resource mobilisation and the participation in international tax cooperation structures.

5. How does the crisis affect ACP-EU cooperation?

The food crisis in 2008 and the financial crisis in 2009 highlighted the need for flexibility and the necessary capacity to help ACP States cope with unforeseen events. The new agreement provides for clarified grounds to readapt the strategies in view of unexpected circumstances. In addition, the Partnership Agreement paves the way towards a new counter-cyclical FLEX instrument to support ACP States faced to the adverse effects of exogenous shocks.

6. How many ACP States are members of the Cotonou Agreement?

The notion of "ACP States" goes back to the "ACP Group of States", formally established in 1975 with the Georgetown Agreement (46 ACPs). Today, the ACP Group of States counts 79 countries, 78 of them signatories of the Cotonou-Agreement (with Cuba being the exception). South Africa is represented in all joint ACP-EU Institutions, but financial support to South Africa is drawn form the EC's general budget and not from the EDF resources since it has not ratified the Cotonou Agreement. Sudan has not ratified the Agreement and therefore do not benefit from Community financing under this Agreement.

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