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The Cotonou Agreement

The Cotonou Agreement is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU. Since 2000, it has been the framework for the EU's relations with 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). In March 2010, the European Commission and the African Caribbean Pacific group have concluded the second revision of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement following a first revision in 2001. ACP-EU cooperation has been adapted to new challenges, such as climate change, food security, regional integration, State fragility and aid effectiveness.

The 2010 consolidated version pdf - 562 KB [562 KB] français (fr) of the second revision of the Cotonou Agreement is now available. However,the document cannot be used as an official reference, as only the text of the Agreement amending the Partnership Agreement and published in the paper edition of the Official Journal of the European Union is deemed authentic.  

The second revision  adapts the partnership to changes which have taken place over the last decade, in particular:

  • The growing importance of regional integration in ACP countries and in ACP-EU cooperation is reflected. Its role in fostering cooperation and peace and security, in promoting growth and in tackling cross-border challenges is emphasized. In Africa, the continental dimension is also recognized, and the African Union becomes a partner of the EU-ACP relationship.
  • Security and fragility : no development can take place without a secure environment. The new agreement highlights the interdependence between security and development and tackles security threats jointly. Attention is paid to peace building and conflict prevention. A comprehensive approach combining diplomacy, security and development cooperation is developed for situations of State fragility.
  • Our ACP partners face major challenges if they are to meet the Millennium Development Goals,  food security, HIV-AIDS and sustainability of fisheries. The importance of each of these areas for sustainable development, growth and poverty reduction is underlined, and joint approaches for our cooperation are now agreed.
  • For the first time, the EU and the ACP recognize the global challenge of climate change as a major subject for their partnership. The parties commit to raising the profile of climate change in their development cooperation, and to support ACP efforts in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change.
  • The trade chapter of the Agreement reflects the new trade relationship and the expiry of preferences at the end of 2007. It reaffirms the role of the Economic Partnership Agreements to boost economic development and integration into the world economy. The revised Agreement highlights the challenges ACP countries are facing to integrate better into the world economy, in particular the effects of preference erosion. It therefore underlines the importance of trade adaptation strategies and aid for trade .
  • More actors in the partnership : the EU has been promoting a broad and inclusive partnership with ACP partners. The new agreement clearly recognizes the role of national parliaments, local authorities, civil society and private sector.
  • More impact, more value for money : This second revision is instrumental in putting in practice the internationally agreed aid effectiveness principles, in particular donor coordination. It will also untie EU aid to the ACP countries to reduce transaction costs. For the first time, the role of other EU policies for the development of ACP countries is recognized and the EU commits to enhance the coherence of those policies to this end.

Overview of ACP-EC-Partnership Agreement ("The Cotonou Agreement")

European Development Fund (EDF) is the main instrument for providing Community assistance for development cooperation under the Cotonou Agreement. The EDF is funded by the EU Member State on the basis of specific contribution keys. Each EDF is concluded for a multi-annual period.

The "Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part and the European Community and its Member States of the other part" was signed on 23 June 2000 in Cotonou, Bénin ? hence the name " ACP-EC Partnership Agreement" or "Cotonou Agreement". It was concluded for a twenty-year period from March 2000 to February 2020, and entered into force in April 2003. It was for the first time revised in June 2005, with the revision entering into force on 1 July 2008.

The Cotonou Agreement is a global agreement, introducing important changes and ambitious objectives while preserving the 'acquis' of 25 years of ACP-EC cooperation.

Compared to preceding agreements and conventions shaping EC's development cooperation, the Cotonou Agreement represents further progress in a number of aspects. It is designed to establish a comprehensive partnership, based on three complementary pillars:

  • development cooperation,
  • economic and trade cooperation, and
  • the political dimension.

The objectives of the Cotonou Agreement
<>The partnership is centred on the objective of reducing and eventually eradicating poverty consistent with the objectives of sustainable development and the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy (Art. 1 of Cotonou Agreement). The fundamental principles of the Cotonou Agreement

  • equality of the partners and ownership of the development strategies;
  • participation (central governments as the main partners, partnership open to different kinds of other actors)
  • pivotal role of dialogue and the fulfilment of mutual obligations
  • differentiation and regionalisation

The actors of the Cotonou Agreement

  • The actors of cooperation are:
  • States (authorities and/or organisations of states at local, national and regional level);
  • Non-state actors (private sector; economic and social partners, including trade union organisations, civil society in all its forms according to national characteristics).

The implementation of the Cotonou Agreement
The 10th EDF covers the period from 2008 to 2013 and has been allocated ? 22.7 billion; it was established between the EU Member States by Internal Agreement. In comparison to the 9th EDF which covered the period 2000 to 2007, the initial amount available has increased by almost 65 % (the 9th EDF was initially allocated ? 13.8 billion for 2000-2007).

The cooperation with the ACP States funded from the EDF is complemented by development cooperation funded from the EC budget, through budgetary instruments - the Development Cooperation Instrument, the Instrument for Stability, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the European Humanitarian Aid Instrument.

Revision clause:
The Cotonou Agreement provides for a revision clause which foresees that the agreement is adapted every five years till 2020.

In accordance with Article 95 Cotonou Agreement, the main reasons for the Second Revision of the Cotonou Agreement are:

  • to preserve the relevance and the outstanding character of the Partnership between ACP and EU countries;
  • to adapt the Agreement to recent major changes in international and ACP-EC relations;
  • to further develop several themes that are essential for both parties:
    • the political dimension, institutional issues and sector specific policy issues;
    • economic cooperation, regional integration and trade;
    • development finance cooperation, including humanitarian and emergency assistance and new development advances in aid programming and management.

The contracting parties and the "ACP Group of States"
The Cotonou Agreement established a unique partnership between the ACP States on the one hand, and the European Community and its Member States on the other hand.

The notion of "ACP States" goes back to the "ACP Group of States", formally established in 1975 with the Georgetown Agreement , which was initially signed by 46 African, Caribbean and Pacific states. Today, the ACP Group of States counts 79 countries , 78 of them signatories of the Cotonou-Agreement (with Cuba being the exception). S outh Africa is a contracting party of the Cotonou Agreement, but not all the provisions apply to the cooperation between South Africa and the EC (see protocol 3 of the Cotonou Agreement).

The ACP Group of States has its own institutions and decision making processes. It relates with the European Community through the joint institutions of the Cotonou Agreement.

Historical background and revisions

Lomé Conventions (Lomé I,  Lomé IV bis). However, important developments on the international stage, and socio-economic and political changes in the ACP countries highlighted the need for a re-thinking of ACP-EC cooperation. A green paper on the relations between the EC and the ACP countries was launched in 1996 (COM(96)570 final of 20 November 1996).

Relations between the European Community (EC) and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States are a particularly important aspect of the EC development cooperation policy and, more widely, of its external action.

The Community support to Sub-Saharan Africa received a more structured approach through the successive Yaoundé Conventions (1963 - 1975). The accession of the UK to the European Communities broadened the geographic scope of the partnership to African, Caribbean and Pacific Commonwealth countries. The "ACP Group of States" was founded by the Georgetown Agreement in 1975.

From 1975 until 2000 the ACP-EC relations were governed by the regularly adapted and updated

Against a background of an intensive public debate, negotiations started in September 1998 for a comprehensive revision of the ACP-EC relations. These negotiations were successfully concluded in early February 2000 and led to the conclusion of the Cotonou Agreement.

The first revision to the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement

In accordance with the revision clause, negotiations to revise the agreement for the first time were launched in May 2004 and concluded in February 2005. The overriding objective of revision process was to enhance the effectiveness and quality of the ACP-EU partnership. The revised Agreement entered into force on 01 July 2008.

The revision in 2005 focussed on the following aspects and amendments:

  • Political dimension: strengthening the political dimension by placing greater emphasis on effective dialogue and results (Art. 8, 9, 96, 97, Annex VII); inclusion of a provision on the International Criminal Court,of a reference to cooperation in countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,of a clause which confirms partners? international cooperation in the fight against terrorism, and of provision relating to the prevention of mercenary activities.
  • Development strategies: amendments relating to sectoral strategies; a reference to the promotion of the fight against poverty-related diseases and protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights of women; insertion of provisions to facilitate non-state actor access to indicative programme resources; facilitation of cooperation between ACP States and other developing countries (regional cooperation); promotion of traditional knowledge as part of sectoral economic development; strengthening of existing provisions on island ACP States.
  • A more flexible and more effective implementation of the investment facility, which is managed by the European Investment Bank.
  • Implementation and management procedures: the first revision provided, among others, g reater flexibility in the allocation of resources; possibility to use resources for policies to promote peace and to manage and settle conflicts, including post-conflict support; reformulation of the responsibilities of managing and executing agents.
Last update: 12/09/2012 | Top