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

21-09-2021

After two years of negotiations, the text of a renewed partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states was initialled in April 2021. The current partnership agreement (‘Cotonou’) 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 on a 'post-Cotonou' agreement in September 2018. The EU and the OACPS agreed on the principle of a common foundation complemented by three regional protocols. 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. Thus, to avoid a legal vacuum in relations, the provisions of that agreement were extended until the end of 2021. 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. The new agreement still needs to be signed by the parties, and further legal procedures will be required before it can be provisionally applied or enter fully into force. Seventh edition. To view earlier editions of this briefing, please see the EPRS blog.

After two years of negotiations, the text of a renewed partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states was initialled in April 2021. The current partnership agreement (‘Cotonou’) 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 on a 'post-Cotonou' agreement in September 2018. The EU and the OACPS agreed on the principle of a common foundation complemented by three regional protocols. 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. Thus, to avoid a legal vacuum in relations, the provisions of that agreement were extended until the end of 2021. 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. The new agreement still needs to be signed by the parties, and further legal procedures will be required before it can be provisionally applied or enter fully into force. Seventh edition. To view earlier editions of this briefing, please see the EPRS blog.