ACP-EU Relations after 2020: Review of Options

22-02-2013

Although it may seem that there is ample time to discuss the future of ACP–EU relations after the Cotonou Agreement expires in 2020, fundamental questions need to be answered by both partners before any decision is reached. Reflections should start with an assessment of the three pillars of the current partnership — development cooperation, trade relations and political dialogue — as well as the work of joint institutions. Looking ahead, three broad scenarios for post-2020 are envisaged in this paper: a dissolution of the joint partnership and its replacement with regional arrangements; the development of an overarching ACP–EU partnership that coexists with strengthened Regional Economic Communities (RECs); or the emergence of a more dynamic and cohesive ACP group, which may establish global partnerships beyond the EU. Each of these options will have very different implications and require a different response from the ACP and EU partners. Determining which outcome is most likely will be easier once the formal positions of the ACP and EU are defined and negotiations for the third revision of Cotonou (2015) get underway.

Although it may seem that there is ample time to discuss the future of ACP–EU relations after the Cotonou Agreement expires in 2020, fundamental questions need to be answered by both partners before any decision is reached. Reflections should start with an assessment of the three pillars of the current partnership — development cooperation, trade relations and political dialogue — as well as the work of joint institutions. Looking ahead, three broad scenarios for post-2020 are envisaged in this paper: a dissolution of the joint partnership and its replacement with regional arrangements; the development of an overarching ACP–EU partnership that coexists with strengthened Regional Economic Communities (RECs); or the emergence of a more dynamic and cohesive ACP group, which may establish global partnerships beyond the EU. Each of these options will have very different implications and require a different response from the ACP and EU partners. Determining which outcome is most likely will be easier once the formal positions of the ACP and EU are defined and negotiations for the third revision of Cotonou (2015) get underway.