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The future of OACPS-EU relations


This dossier was previously called ‘The future of ACP-EU relations’. 

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The European Union (EU) and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS – formerly named the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States), have governed their relationship since 1975 through a sequence of partnership agreements.

In the past two years, negotiators worked towards a deal on the successor to the 2000 Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which now formally expires in November 2021. On 4 December 2020, OACPS chief negotiator Robert Dussey and EU chief negotiator Jutta Urpilainen announced a new partnership agreement.

ECDPM, with more than 30 years of involvement in OACPS-EU relations, closely followed the negotiations and aimed to guide the debate towards realistic and workable scenarios that benefit all parties concerned.

Latest work

New beginnings or a last hurrah? The OACPS-EU partnership in 2021-2041
Alfonso Medinilla, ECDPM brief, April 2021

Relations UE-ACP : la fin des préférences ? Une analyse du nouvel accord post-Cotonou
Jean-Claude Boidin, document de réflexion de l’ECDPM, janvier 2021

ACP-EU relations: The end of preferences? A personal assessment of the post-Cotonou agreement
Jean-Claude Boidin, ECDPM paper, December 2020

L’approche de continent à continent ne fait pas recette: Messages contradictoires des deux rives et aucun enthousiasme en Afrique du Nord
Emmanuel De Groof and Jean Bossuyt, ECDPM paper, May 2019

Looking north and moving south: Little enthusiasm for a continent-to-continent approach:
North Africa’s double pursuit (Part I)
Emmanuel De Groof, Jean Bossuyt, Tasnim Abderrahim and Dalil Djinnit, ECDPM paper, 28 January 2019.

Mixed messages from Europe and Africa stand in the way of an intercontinental deal:
North Africa’s double pursuit (Part II)
Emmanuel De Groof and Jean Bossuyt, ECDPM paper, February 2019.

Africa-EU relations and post-Cotonou: African collective action or further fragmentation of partnerships?
Alfonso Medinilla and Jean Bossuyt, ECDPM brief, March 2019

Who’s interested in the EU’s open invitation to join a post-Cotonou Agreement?
Emmanuel De Groof and Andrew Sherriff, ECDPM blog, 29 March 2019

A crucial week for Africa and Europe beyond 2040: A continent-to-continent approach: The African momentum
Emmanuel De Groof, Dalil Djinnit and Alfonso Medinilla, ECDPM brief, September 2018

ACP-EU negotiations and the next EU budget: Six crucial weeks to understand which way the wind is blowing
Andrew Sherriff, ECDPM blog, 22 May 2018

Breaking the silence on North Africa: A new EU-Africa partnership after 2020
Alfonso Medinilla, ECDPM blog, March 2018

Key analysis

Charting the course to 2020: Fundamental choices for the negotiation of a future ACP-EU partnership
Alfonso Medinilla and Jean Bossuyt, 29 January 2018

To navigate the multitude of issues, options and trade-offs raised by the renegotiations of the ACP-EU partnership, ECDPM’s Alfonso Medinilla and Jean Bossuyt outline the key choices and possible implications for all actors involved.

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Negotiating a new agreement with the ACP post-2020: What is at stake in the coming months
Alfonso Medinilla and Jean Bossuyt, 15 January 2018

On 12 December 2017, the European Commission presented its recommendation to the Council for negotiations with the ACP countries. We lay out three challenges to refine the Commission’s proposal in the coming months and ensure a much-needed modernisation of EU external action partnerships.

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Can the EU prioritise both the African Union and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group?
Niels Keijzer and Alfonso Medinilla, European Think Tanks Group, 20 November 2017

A new brief by the European Think Tanks Group argues that leaving discussions on the future of ACP-EU relations out of the AU-EU Summit agenda could be, in the long run, a major missed opportunity. Failure to engage now will lead to continued fragmentation and duplication in the relationship between Europe and Africa.

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ACP-EU relations beyond 2020: Engaging the future or perpetuating the past?
Jean Bossuyt, 4 September 2017

Discussions on the future of ACP-EU relations are moving at a very slow pace, while the clock keeps on ticking. In a new policy brief, ECDPM’s Jean Bossuyt sheds light on the way to break the inertia. The preferred ‘umbrella’ scenario, he says, needs to be turned on its head.

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Preliminary analysis of the EU Communication on a renewed partnership with the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific
Jean Bossuyt, Niels Keijzer, Geert Laporte and Marc De Tollenaere, 25 November 2016

ecdpm-acp-eu-scenarios-150 Exploring scenarios for the future of ACP-EU cooperation: An analytical tool for informed choices
Jean Bossuyt, Niels Keijzer, Geert Laporte, Alfonso Medinilla and Marc De Tollenaere, 9 September 2016

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PMR21-Cover The future of ACP-EU relations: A political economy analysis
Jean Bossuyt, Niels Keijzer, Alfonso Medinilla, Marc De Tollenaere, January 2016

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ECDPM-Future-ACP-EU-2020-150 The future of ACP-EU relations post-2020: An overview of relevant analysis by ECDPM
Andrew Sherriff and Cecilia Gregersen, 5 December 2014

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More on the future of ACP-EU relations

The publications below cover perspectives on the future ACP-EU relations, the changes in the global world order that have impacted the ACP-EU relations and present scenarios for the future of both ACP-EU relations and the ACP group itself.

Towards Renewal or Oblivion? Prospects for Post-2020 Cooperation between the European Union and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group
September 2013, Mario Negre, Niels Keijzer, Brecht Lein and Nicola Tissi, DIE/GDI Discussion Paper 9/2013

The Challenges of Global Governance and the Emerging World Order: What Role for the ACP-EU Partnership
June 2014, Geert Laporte, speech at ACP Day

ACP-EU Relations beyond 2020: Exploring European Perceptions
October 2013, Niels Keijzer, Brecht Lein, Mario Negre and Nicola Tissi, DIE/GDI Briefing Paper 11/2013

Emerging Players in the Caribbean: What Implications for the Caribbean, their Relations with the EU and the ACP?
June 2011, Annita Montoute, ECDPM Discussion Paper 116

Global Changes, Emerging Players and Evolving ACP-EU Relations: Towards a common agenda for action?
July 2011, ECDPM, ECDPM Background Paper prepared for ECDPM 25th Anniversary 2011

Global Changes, Emerging Players and Evolving ACP-EU Relations: Towards a common agenda for action?
September 2011, James Mackie, Bruce Byiers, Sonia Niznik and Geert Laporte. ECDPM Policy Management Report 19.

What Future for the ACP and the Cotonou Agreement? Preparing for the Next Steps in the Debate
April 2012, Geert Laporte. ECDPM Briefing Note 34.

The added value of separate components of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement – should they stay or should they go?

These resources focus on specific elements of the Cotonou Agreement as a basis for further analysis on whether and how these specific elements could be brought forward in future ACP-EU relations.

Political dialogue

When Agreement Breaks Down, What Next? The Cotonou Agreement’s Article 96 Consultation Procedure
August 2005. James Mackie and Julia Zinke. ECDPM Discussion Paper 64A.

Suspension of Development Cooperation: An Instrument to Promote Human Rights and Democracy?
August 2005, Hadewych Hazelzet. ECDPM Discussion Paper 64B.

Recent Cases of Articles 96 Consultations
August 2005, Lydie Mbangu. ECPDM Discussion Paper 64C.

An ACP Perspective and Overview of Article 96 Cases
September 2005, Andrew Bradley. ECDPM Discussion Paper 64D.

The 2010 Revision and the Future of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement: Report of an informal seminar
2008, Innocent Ejolu, Nicolas Mombrial, Niels Keijzer, Veronika Tyywuschick, Paul Engel, Geert Laporte and James Mackie. ECDPM Discussion Paper 85.

Political Dialogue on Human Rights under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement
March 2014, Jean Bossuyt, Camilla Rocca and Brecht Lein. Study realised for the Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union.

ACP-EU Cooperation on Readmission: Where Does it Stand and Where to Go?
April 2012, Henrike Klavert and Jeske van Seters, ECDPM Briefing Note 33.

Development and financial issues

Differentiation in ACP-EU Cooperation: Implications of the EU’s Agenda for Change for the 11th EDF and Beyond
October 2012, Niels Keijzer, Jeske van Seters, Brecht Lein, Florian Krätke and Annita Montoute. ECDPM Discussion Paper 134.

Improving ACP-EU Cooperation: Is ‘Budgetising’ the EDF the Answer?
January 2004, James Mackie, Jonas Frederiksen and Céline Rossini. ECDPM Discussion Paper 51.

More or Less? A Financial Analysis of the Proposed 11th European Development Fund
March 2012, Ulrika Kilnes, Niels Keijzer, Jeske van Seters and Andrew Sherriff. ECDPM Briefing Note 29.

Member States’ positions on the proposed 2014-2020 EU Budget – An analysis of the statements made at the 26th of March General Affairs Council meeting with particular reference to External Action and the EDF
2012, Ulrika Kilnes and Andrew Sherriff. ECDPM Briefing Note 37.

From Purse to Policy to Practice: Six Initiatives to Future-proof EU Development Cooperation for 2014-2020 and Beyond?
June 2013, Florian Krätke. ECDPM Briefing Note 51.

Regional Programming for the 11th European Development Fund
21 February 2014, Florian Krätke. ECDPM Talking Points blog.

Early Experiences in Programming EU Aid 2014-2020: Charting the Agenda for Change
September 2013, Alisa Herrero, Greta Galeazzi and Florian Krätke. ECDPM Briefing Note 54.


Frequently Asked Questions: Economic Partnership Agreements
2014, San Bilal and Isabelle Ramdoo. ECDPM Dossier.

Economic Partnership Agreements: Towards the Finishing Line?
February 2014, San Bilal. ECDPM Briefing Note 64.

Economic Partnership Agreements and Beyond
October/November 2014. ECDPM GREAT insights magazine.

Supporting Structural Transformation in the ACP Agro-Food Sector: Redefining possible roles of the ACP post 2020
January 2014, Paul Goodison. ECDPM Discussion Paper 155.

Tourism and Development in Caribbean-EU Relations: Bridging the Gap Between Policy and Practice
March 2011, Quentin de Roquefeuil and Geert Laporte. ECDPM Briefing Note 23

Complementary, competing and alternative regional structures

The section below presents ECDPM’s work on complementary, competing or alternative structures. The publications look at relations governing strategic partnerships between the individual ACP geographic areas and the EU, including the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, the Joint Caribbean-EU Strategy, and the EC Communication on a Pacific-EU partnership.

The Implementation of the Joint Africa Europe Strategy: Rebuilding Confidence and Commitments
March 2014, Damien Helly, Essete Abebe Bekele, Sahra El Fassi and Greta Galeazzi. Study realised for the Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union.

What Next for the Joint Africa-EU Strategy? Perspectives on Revitalising an Innovative Framework – A Scoping Paper
March 2010, Jean Bossuyt and Andrew Sherriff. ECDPM Discussion Paper 94.

Can the Pan-African Programme Revitalise the JAES?
June 2012, Faten Aggad-Clerx and Nicola Tissi. ECDPM Briefing Note 42.

The Joint Caribbean EU Strategy Reflections and Analysis
15 April 2011, ECDPM and The Institute of International Relations (IRR) at the University of the West Indies. Workshop Report.

Reinventing Pacific-EU Relations: With or Without the ACP?
October 2013, Geert Laporte and Gemma Piñol Puig. ECDPM Briefing Note 56.

Other ECDPM overview resources

The European Union’s Development Policy: A Personal View of 50 Years of International Cooperation
April 2008, Dieter FrischECDPM Policy Management Report 15.

Cotonou Infokit: The EC Reform and the ACP
January 2001, ECDPM.

The Cotonou Agreement: A User’s Guide for Non-State Actors
November 2003, ECDPM.