International Partnerships

ACP-EU partnership

Our cooperation with African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries is longstanding and has deepened over time, as demonstrate the successive ACP-EU partnership agreements signed over the years since the first Lomé Convention (1975).

The Cotonou Agreement

Our current relationship with ACP countries is governed by the ACP-EU partnership agreement (2000), also known as the Cotonou Agreement, which unites over 100 partner countries and some 1.5 billion people. It is the most comprehensive partnership agreement ever signed between the EU and third countries.

The Cotonou Agreement was initially built on the following principles:

  • partners’ equality
  • global participation
  • dialogue

To adjust to new challenges, the agreement was revised in 2005 and 2010 to add focus on:

  • regional integration
  • security and political stability
  • the growing challenge of climate change
  • inclusiveness and sustainability
  • aid effectiveness

Post-Cotonou OACPS-EU relations

In April 2020, the ACP Group of States became an international organisation: the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS).

Beyond this change, the upcoming expiry of the Cotonou Agreement was an opportunity to rejuvenate and strengthen our relationship with OACPS countries, while considering the new realities and global challenges facing us.

In June 2018, we detailed our ambitions for this new OACPS-EU partnership in the EU negotiating directives, in view of the official launch of negotiations in September 2018 in New York. 

The EU and OACPS chief negotiators concluded their negotiations on 15 April 2021. The proposed text (available below) will be presented to the respective members for approval and conclusion before the new Agreement can enter into force. The process will run its course in accordance with Article 218 (6) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Here is an overview of what we aim for:

  • a comprehensive political agreement, supporting our commitment to sustainable development and climate action, building on the UN 2030 Agenda, the European Consensus on development, and the Paris Agreement
  • more flexible, targeted, and coherent relations with OACPS countries, thanks to a renewed partnership agreement, allowing us to act at various levels to protect people’s lives and the planet

Our future work will take into account the significant changes in EU and OACPS countries over the past decades. Ultimately, it should be geared towards actions to foster inclusive growth, climate action and resilience to natural disasters, peace and security, migration management, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and much more.

We want to go beyond the traditional development dynamics and champion the values and principles that bring us and OACPS countries closer together. By enhancing our political cooperation, we will be able to explore new ways of tackling pressing challenges and be stronger on the international scene, as the EU and OACPS countries represent together more than half of UN members.

Initially scheduled to expire on 29 February 2020, the application of the Cotonou agreement is extended until 30 November 2021, unless the new Agreement enters into force or is provisionally applied before that date.