Linking policy and practice in international cooperation



The Challenges of Global Governance and the Emerging World Order: What Role for the ACP-EU Partnership

June 2014

Laporte, G. 2014. The Challenges of Global Governance and the Emerging World Order: What Role for the ACP-EU Partnership. Maastricht: ECDPM.

2014 ACP Day was marked with a seminar and a cultural evening. Speakers brought their various experiences and thoughts to bear on how our ACP-EU partnership can enrich the global governance agenda in addressing some of the world’s most critical challenges ranging from poverty to migration, security, refugees and global financial turbulence.

ECDPM’s Geert Laporte made a presentation outlining the following key questions: 

(1) On which global issues did ACP-EU collective action have a major impact? Which global issues covered in the ACP-EU partnership have moved to other fora over time and why?  Has there been a real convergence of interest between the ACP and the EU that allowed both parties to turn global processes to their advantage?

(2) To what extent is the ACP regarded as the best grouping to serve the global interests of its members, also beyond Brussels? What is the specific comparative advantage and added value of the ACP as a Group on global themes that cannot be covered by other institutions?

(3) To what extent does the ACP-EU partnership play an important role in furthering the EU’s ambitions and strategic interests in the world? 

The reality check: from rhetoric to empirical evidence

There is no shortage of strong political declarations and statements in favour of ACP-EU relations and of the ACP Group itself. Much reference is made to the revised Georgetown Agreement of 2003 and the Sipopo ACP Heads of State Declaration of December 2012.  In recent months we also have had the various declarations coming out of the EPG meetings in the various parts of the ACP.

Wordings such as “shared interests” “solidarity” and “unique partnership” re-appear regularly in all these statements but at some stage these risk becoming hollow slogans, not supported by evidence of concrete action. We should dare to ask the question of how solid the foundations of the ACP-EU Partnership are in the global arena beyond these nice and ambitious intentions.

At least on paper, there can be no doubt that the Cotonou Agreement remains the most sophisticated partnership framework covering political, economic and development cooperation between any regions of the world.  

But is Cotonou, based on the financial over-dependency of one party over the other, really an example of a “unique partnership” in actual practice?   Does it have the sufficient commonality of interests along with political and economic clout to meaningfully address global governance challenges? Can this so-called “unique partnership” generate truly effective “collective action” to be heard and to exercise influence?

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Cross-cutting TopicsStrengthening European External ActionEU AidExternal Action in Global RegionsSpeechesACP Group of StatesCotonou AgreementFragile statesAfricaCaribbeanEuropePacific