Samoa agreement (‘ post-Cotonou ‘) between the EU and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS)

In “A Stronger Europe in the World”

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State of play

On 10 April 2024, Parliament approved the conclusion of the new Partnership Agreement between the EU and members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) States (OACPS),  the 'Samoa Agreement'.  The European Parliament's consent was needed before the Council adopts the decision concluding the agreement. 

The signing ceremony of the new partnership between the EU and ACP states took place on 15 November 2023 in Apia (Samoa). All the EU Member States have signed; as of 15 April 2024, 70 out of 79 members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) have signed it. 

The provisional application of the agreement began on 1 January 2024. Provisional application, participation in the joint institutions and the European Investment Bank license to operate will apply only to signatory states. 

The new agreement will fully enter into force after each EU Member State and at least two thirds of OACPS members have ratified it. 

European Parliament position

Parliament formulated its views in a series of resolutions. On 14 June 2018, it notably adopted the following recommendations:

  • The partnership should focus on the UN 2030 agenda and the fight against poverty. 
  • The chapter on human rights should explicitly list the forms of discrimination that should be combated (such as sexual, ethnic, or religious discriminations) and mention sexual and reproductive rights.
  • The political dialogue should be strengthened and have a strong follow-up mechanism.
  • The proposed management of legal migration should be more ambitious.
  • National parliaments, local authorities, civil society and the private sector should be more involved in the programming, monitoring and evaluation of the partnership's priorities.
  • The new partnership should strengthen the parliamentary dimension. 
  • Economic partnership agreements should be fully integrated into the new partnership.

On 10 April 2024, Parliament adopted, alongside with the consent, a report prepared by its Committee on Development, highlighting areas for collaboration including renewable energy, and climate change adaptation. It welcomed the commitment to human rights but regretted the lack of explicit mention of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender. this report sees the agreement as a way to strengthen the EU's position in the world and counter influence from China and Russia. It also expresses concern about the use of private military companies in the region.

Content of the agreement

The new OACPS-EU partnership agreement has the following structure:

  • one foundation laying down the common principles, such as a commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and multilateralism, and six key priorities: 
    • human rights, democracy and governance;
    • peace and security;
    • human and social development;
    • inclusive, sustainable economic growth and development;
    • environmental sustainability and climate change; and
    • migration and mobility. 
  • three regional protocols, one for each ACP sub-region, focusing on their own priorities: 
    • The protocol with African countries is focused on peace and stability, democracy and good governance, economic and human development; it would aim at managing migration and mobility and addressing climate change.
    • The Caribbean protocol builds on a similar agenda, with an emphasis on regional integration and mitigation of natural disasters' consequences.
    • The Pacific protocol highlights the maritime dimension of the partnership.

The institutional set-up includes:

  • the OACPS-EU Council of Ministers, as well as the possibility to organise heads of state or government summits;
  • the Committee of Ambassadors;
  • the OACPS-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA);
  • for each regional component: 
    • one joint Council of Ministers; 
    • one joint regional parliamentary assembly (RPA) 
      The OACPS-EU JPA and the three new RPAs held their constitutive meetings from 19 to 21 February 2024 in Luanda (Angola).

The foundation and protocols are legally binding on all the parties. There is a provision for accession of new countries, in particular (but not only) new OACPS member states. 

    Background

    The Cotonou Partnership Agreement (2000) between the EU Member States and 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific States was a legally binding treaty covering trade, development cooperation and political dialogue. It was to end on 29 February 2020 but had been prolonged until the new agreement is provisionally applied. It provided a detailed list of human rights and democratic principles that the parties must comply with or face sanctions, and an elaborate dispute settlement mechanism. 

    • On 22 January 2018, the Council approved the Commission's recommendation to negotiate the new agreement (often referred to as the 'Post-Cotonou agreement')
    • Negotiations began on 28 September 2018. The 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. 
    • On 3 December 2020, the EU and OACPS chief negotiators announced the reach of a political deal. The chief negotiators initialed the negotiated text on 15 April 2021.
    • On 11 June 2021, the European Commission transmitted its proposals for adoption and provisional application to the CouncilHowever discussions between EU Member States have delayed this decision until 20 July 2023 (Hungary and Poland notified their will to sign the negotiated agreement, respectively, in April and July 2023).

    * South Africa decided to leave the OACPS as from 2 September 2022 and does not participate in the future agreement. On 10 December 2022, the Maldives became a full member of the OACPS. 

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    As of 20/04/2024.