Members' Research Service By / July 9, 2018

After Cotonou: Towards a new agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific states [International Agreements in Progress]

The Cotonou Partnership Agreement was signed on 23 June 2000, by the then 15 Member States of the European Community and then 77 member states of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states. Commonly referred to as the Cotonou Agreement, it guides most of the relations between 78 ACP states and the 27 EU Member States; the United Kingdom was bound by the agreement until the end of 2020.

© European Union, EPRS

Written by Eric Pichon (9th edition, updated on 11.09.2023).

The Cotonou partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states was due to expire in February 2020. The then ACP Group of States – which later became the Organisation of the ACP States (OACPS) – and the EU started negotiations for a ‘post-Cotonou’ agreement in September 2018. This time around, the main challenge for the EU is to maintain its cooperation with the three OACPS sub-regions and to continue to promote the values enshrined in the EU Treaties. At the same time, the new partnership should take into account the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, the redefinition of the EU’s strategies for the regions concerned, the ACP states’ new ambitions and the changing balance of power at the global level. Both the EU and the OACPS have agreed on the principle of a common foundation complemented by three regional protocols. These multi-level negotiations, the coronavirus crisis and difficulties in reaching agreement on sensitive issues, such as migration management and sexual and reproductive health and rights, prevented the new agreement from being finalised by the initial expiry date set in the Cotonou Agreement. Thus, to avoid a legal vacuum in relations, the provisions of this agreement were extended until the end of 2021. After two years of negotiations, a political deal was reached in December 2020, including on the most complex issues. The European Parliament insisted on maintaining the ACP-EU joint parliamentary assembly and was successful in this endeavour; in addition, three regional parliamentary assemblies will be created in the future institutional set-up of the partnership.

Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States
Committee responsible:Development (DEVE)2021/2213 (INI)
Rapporteur:Tomas Tobé (EPP, Sweden)


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