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International Partnerships

ACP-EU partnership

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 June 2023, unless the new Agreement enters into force or is provisionally applied before that date.


Stakeholder engagement

The new Agreement indicated that the EU and OACPS should follow a multi-stakeholder approach. In this sense, the post-Cotonou agreement is more ambitious than its predecessor, as it goes beyond the general principle of informing and consulting non-state actors (Cotonou Agreement, Art.4) to a more specific provision to set up “open and transparent mechanisms for structured consultation with stakeholders” (Art.95 of the negotiated Agreement).

Following a joint decision by the EU and the OACPS, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) acts as a knowledge partner to develop a structured stakeholder engagement mechanism. The aim of a meaningful engagement of a wide range of stakeholders, including civil society and young people, is to make the implementation an inclusive process that takes into account citizens’ needs.

Find out more about the project

Related documents

15 APRIL 2021
Negotiated Agreement text initialled by EU OACPS chief negotiators 15-04-21
15 JULY 2016
Executive summary - Evaluation of the Cotonou Agreement
15 JULY 2016
Joint Staff Working Document - Evaluation of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement
22 NOVEMBER 2016
Executive summary of the impact assessment - A renewed partnership with the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific - JOIN(2016) 52 final and SWD(2016) 380 final
22 NOVEMBER 2016
SWD - Impact assessment - A renewed partnership with the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific 2016
18 MARCH 2016
Public consultation Summary Report - EU-ACP partnership after 2020
6 OCTOBER 2015
Joint Consultation Paper 6 October 2015 - Towards a new partnership between the EU and the ACP after 2020