Negotiations between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States on a post-2020 ACP-EU Partnership

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Information Guide on the negotiations undertaken between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries towards setting up a Partnership Agreement for the period after 2020 (or post-Cotonou).

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Relations between the EU and the ACP countries date back to before 1975 and the first Lomé Convention. Successive partnership agreements have shaped the relationship throughout the decade. The existing ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (CPA) was signed in 2000 in Cotonou - hence the name 'Cotonou Agreement'. This CPA established that negotiations must open 18 months before its expiration in 2020.

The European Commission published a Recommendation in December 2017 in support of an umbrella agreement defining common values and interests and three distinct tailor-made protocols with the three regions. The Recommendation was adopted by the Council of the European Union in June 2018. A month earlier, the ACP Council of Ministers adopted its own negotiating position.

The first round of negotiations was launched in October 2018 and were concluded on 14 December. A second round took place in January 2019. On 4 April, negotiators launched the talks for the three regional protocols. In May 2019, negotiators announced their willingness to set transitional measures should a new agreement not be concluded by February 2020. On 28 September 2019, negotiators reached an agreement on the economic priorities of the agreement.

The ACP Group of Countries endorsed a revised version of its Constitutive Act (Georgetown Agreement) in December 2019, which included the renaming of the Group to Organisation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (OACPS). This became effective in April 2020.

On 14 February 2020, the two sides agreed to extend the existing Cotonou Agreement unchanged until December 2020, thus avoiding its expiration on 29 February. At the meeting, the negotiation teams also made progress in relation to the regional partnerships and agreed on key chapters for these within the new OACPS-EU Partnership. The two sides returned to high-level political talks on 12 June, following an interruption due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

A political agreement between the two sides was announced on 3 December 2020. The new Partnership Agreement is composed by a "common foundation", which sets out the values and principles bringing the EU and OACPS together and indicates the strategic priority areas that both intend to work on. These are:

  • Human rights, democracy and governance
  • Peace and security
  • Human and social development
  • Environmental sustainability and climate change
  • Inclusive sustainable economic growth and development
  • Migration and mobility.

The Agreement also combines this foundation with three specific, action-oriented regional protocols.

The two sides also announced a second extension to the validity of the existing Cotonou Agreement until November 2021, to allow for internal procedures to approve, sign and ratify the new partnership. The new Partnership Agreement was initialled on 15 April 2021, marking the formal conclusion of the negotiations.

Related Links
Commentary and Analysis
EPRS: Briefing, April 2018: Initial Appraisal of a European Commission Impact Assessment
EurActiv, 03/10/18: ACP-EU negotiations: Taking the road to prosperity together
EPRS: Briefing, July 2019: Accords internationaux en marche: Le futur partenariat de l’UE avec les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique (post-Cotonou)
Chatham House, 04/12/2019: Can the New European Commission Deliver on Its Promises to Africa?
Foreign Policy, 10/02/2020: It’s Africa’s Turn to Leave the European Union
EPRS: Briefing, February 2020: Accords internationaux en marche: Le futur partenariat de l’UE avec les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique («post-Cotonou»)
Deutsche Welle, 21/04/2020: Coronavirus: Debt relief key to helping Africa, says EU Commissioner
ECFR: Commentary, 08/06/2020: After covid: Resetting Europe-Africa relations for mutual benefit
Deutsche Welle, 27/07/2020: Are negotiations for a new Cotonou Agreement at the finish line?
ECDPM: Discussion Papers, 14/12/2020: ACP-EU relations: The end of preferences? A personal assessment of the post-Cotonou agreement
ISPI: Commentary, 21/12/2020: Africa in the Intricate Post-Cotonou Negotiation Process

Deutsche Welle, 23/10/2018: EU begins tricky negotiations with developing states
EurActiv, 17/05/2019: EU-ACP Cotonou successor faces one year delay
EurActiv, 06/03/2020: Post-Cotonou delays complicate EU’s new African vision
EurActiv, 02/09/2020: Post-Cotonou deal edges closer to the finish line
EurActiv, 04/12/2020: EU and ACP finalise post-Cotonou treaty, after two-year delay

General Secretariat of the Council: Policies: Cotonou Agreement
Council of the European Union: Timeline: steps towards a new EU-ACP partnership after 2020
European Parliament: Legislative Train Schedule: Signature and Conclusion of the new Agreement between the EU and the Countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP-EU "Post-Cotonou")
ACP Council of Ministers: ACP negotiating mandate for a post–Cotonou partnership agreement with the European Union (May 2018)
Council of the European Union: Negotiating directives for a Partnership Agreement between the European Union and countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (June 2018)
European Commission: Press Release, 26/02/2019: New ACP-EU Partnership: EU and Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific Leaders intensify the regional talks in Samoa
European Commission: Fact Sheet, 26/02/2019: EU and Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific Leaders intensify the regional talks in Samoa [Q&A]
European Commission: Press Release, 15/04/2019: New ACP-EU partnership: EU discusses future EU-Caribbean relations
European Commission: Press Release, 03/05/2019: New ACP-EU Partnership: Chief negotiators conclude successful series of regional consultations, culminating with African leaders' meeting
European Commission: Press Release, 23/05/2019: New ACP-EU Partnership: Chief negotiators assess progress made and move talks on to next stage
European Commission: Press Relese, 28/09/2019: New Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific - European Union Partnership: Chief negotiators agree on economic priorities for future agreement
European Commission: Memo, 28/09/2019: Questions and answers: New ACP-EU Partnership after 2020
European Commission: Press Release, 14/02/2020: New Africa-Caribbean-Pacific/EU Partnership: moving forward towards a new partnership fit for the future
European Commission: Questions and answers: Future ACP-EU Partnership (14 February 2020)
European Commission: Press Release, 12/06/2020: Future Africa-Caribbean-Pacific States/EU Partnership: “Post-Cotonou” negotiations resume at ministerial level
European Parliament: Press Release, 26/06/2020: ACP-EU Post-Cotonou: A Joint Parliamentary Assembly is non-negotiable
European Commission: DG International Cooperation and Development: News, 06/07/2020: New Africa-Caribbean-Pacific/EU Partnership: Talks continue at the highest level
European Commission: Press Release, 03/12/2020: Post-Cotonou: Negotiators reach a political deal on a new EU/Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Partnership Agreement
European Commission: Questions & Answers: Reaching a political deal at chief negotiators' level on the EU's new Partnership Agreement with members of the OACPS (3 December 2020)
EPRS: Briefing, January 2021: After Cotonou: Towards a new agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific states (International Agreements in Process)
European Commission: Press Release, 15/04/2021: Post-Cotonou negotiations on new EU/Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Partnership Agreement concluded
European Commission: Questions and Answers on the new EU/Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Partnership Agreement (15 April 2021)

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