The Cotonou Partnership Agreement is the legal framework ruling relations between the EU and 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). It is one of the oldest and most comprehensiveframeworks of cooperationbetween the EU and third countries. Signed in 2000 for a period of 20 years, the Cotonou Partnership Agreement unites more than one hundred countries (EU member states + 79 ACP countries) and represents over 1.5 billion people. Due to expire on 29 February 2020, its provisions foresee the opening of negotiations on a future partnership by August 2018 at the latest.
The EU-ACP partnership focuses on the eradication of poverty and inclusive sustainable development for ACP and EU countries. It is divided into three key action areas: development co-operation, political dialogue and trade.
→ Cotonou Agreement (available in all 24 EU languages)
Why does it need to be modernised and why is this important?
The world has changed considerably since the Cotonou Agreement was adopted almost two decades ago. Global and regional contexts (in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific) have evolved significantly – and so have the common global challenges to be addressed and opportunities to be grasped. Therefore, the core objectives of the partnership have to be reviewed to adapt to the new realities. The EU is therefore seeking a comprehensive political agreement, setting a modern agendaframed by the internationally agreed sustainable development roadmaps (the UN 2030 Agenda - SDGs, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement, the New Consensus on Development, etc). The coming months will be crucial as we are about toenter a new erain our relationship with ACP countries. The upcoming negotiations provide the opportunity to break from the past, paving the way to new dynamics andcooperation going beyond the traditional development dimension.
What are the potential benefits? How does a new era of EU-ACP relations could affect the people?
Building on the lessons learned during our 43 years of cooperation and making the most of the new context, the future agreement will hopefully bring unprecedented opportunities. By setting up a powerful political alliance, the EU and its partners will be in a position to develop solutions to the challenges faced in each region. These include growth and job creation, human development and peace, migration and security issues. Many of today's challenges of a global dimension require a concerted, multilateral approach, in order to achieve tangible results. As it was shown in 2015 with the setting up of a successful coalition that ultimately led to the conclusion of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the EU-ACP partnership has the power to provide valuable responses to global challenges. If we join forces, we can form a majority worldwide as the EU and ACP countries represent more than half of the UN membership. Together, we can make a difference and set a global agenda in international fora.
Will regional organisations have a role in the post-2020 partnership?
The growth of regional bodies has been a significant trend since the 1990s. Across the ACP countries, numerous regional organisations have emerged and some have become key actors in international relations, with the African Union, the Pacific Islands Forum and Cariforum especially strengthening their respective role, as well as sub-regional organisations in Africa including amongst others ECOWAS and SADC. The EU and the ACP countries will continue to rely on a multi-level system of governance that allows taking actions at the most appropriate level (national, regional, continental or ACP), in line with the principles of subsidiarity and complementarity.
Will non-state actors have a role in the agreement?
The EU values structured dialogue and is in favor of a multi-stakeholder approach that includes non-state actors - private sector, civil society, and local authorities. These partners should be able to work in an enabling environment and have the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to national, regional and global decision making.
Who will be the EU's chief negotiator?
The EU chief negotiator will be appointed in due time. He or she will be supported by an experienced negotiation team, encompassing all services involved.
Who will be negotiating on behalf of the ACP group of states?
It is up to the ACP group of States to decide.
Where will the negotiations take place?
In the EU and ACP countries.
How long should the negotiations last?
The Cotonou agreement is due to expire on 29 February 2020. Therefore, the new agreement needs to be both finalised and approved by then.
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