The ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000, was concluded for a 20-year period from 2000 to 2020. It is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU. Since 2000, it has been the framework for EU's relations with 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). In 2010, ACP-EU cooperation has been adapted to new challenges such as climate change, food security, regional integration, State fragility and aid effectiveness.
The fundamental principles of the Cotonou Agreement include equality of partners, global participation (States and non-state actors), dialogue and regionalisation. The Agreement entered into force in April 2003 and has been revised in 2005 and 2010 in accordance with the revision clause to re-examine the Agreement every five years.
The Cotonou Agreement was designed to establish a comprehensive partnership with 3 pillars:
- Development cooperation
- Political cooperation
- Economic and trade cooperation (for the period 2000-2007)
Consolidated text of the Cotonou Agreement
A consolidated version of the text of the Cotonou Agreement is available and can be ordered on https://bookshop.europa.eu/en/home/
A consolidated version of legal texts is also available in 22 language versions on EurLex.
History of the Cotonou Agreement
Before the Cotonou Agreement, Lomé Conventions (Lomé I - Lomé IV bis) applied. However, important developments on the international stage, socio-economic and political changes in the ACP countries highlighted the need for a re-thinking of ACP-EU cooperation.
Following an intensive public debate, negotiations started in September 1998 for a revision of the ACP-EU relations. These negotiations were successfully achieved in early February 2000 and led to the conclusion of the Cotonou Agreement.
In accordance with the revision clause to re-examine the Agreement every five years, negotiations to modify the Agreement for the first time were launched in May 2004 and concluded in February 2005. The objective was to enhance the effectiveness and quality of the EU-ACP partnership and to reflect the recent major changes in international and ACP-EU relations.
In March 2010, the European Commission and the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) group have concluded the second revision of the Cotonou Agreement. 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.