Making policies work

Four scenarios for the future of EU-Africa, Caribbean and Pacific relations: new ECDPM study


Share Button

On Monday, EU Development Cooperation Ministers meet to have their first discussion on the highly political issue of the future of the EU’s Cotonou Partnership Agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group. Today, the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) releases a new analysis, a tool aimed at helping the EU, and the ACP, to make their own assessment of their future relations in light of the new world of international cooperation.

The study is available at

The four scenarios

The review of the ACP-EU agreement is a complex process due to drastic changes in international relations, in the European Union and the ACP countries and regions. Several institutional and political factors may constrain an open, well informed and result-oriented discussion. ECDPM’s analytical tool critically interrogates four possible scenarios for the future of the ACP-EU partnership.

Click on the image to download the full-size infographic


Each of these options is examined according to a single analytical grid aimed at confronting policy-makers with the implications of the scenario they may opt for. The focus is first on the main assumptions and the interests that can potentially be pursued through each scenario. Then, a reality check looks at how solid these assumptions/interests are in light of the actual practice of the agreement, followed by a set of thorny questions proponents of each scenario will need to address. Finally, ECDPM draws up a balance sheet that spells out major advantages and disadvantages of each of the scenarios.

Whatever scenario policy-makers choose, difficult political choices will have to made in order to ensure that future cooperation arrangements result in ‘win-win’ situations for the various state and non-state actors involved.

About the future of ACP-EU relations: our experts say…

“Official parties have always claimed that continuing business as usual cannot be an option for the future cooperation between the EU and ACP” says ECDPM’s Head of Strategy, Jean Bossuyt. “If they are serious about this, they must carefully assess the political value, coherence and feasibility of future arrangements. This scenarios analysis provides a tool to make such a reality check and allow policy stakeholders to test how solid their preferred reform option is”.

“This tool to test each of the specific scenarios could also help to ensure a genuine involvement of a broader set of actors in the review process” argues ECDPM’s Deputy Director, Geert Laporte. “Currently, the risk exists that the debate on the future of ACP-EU relations remains restricted to Brussels-based ACP and EU players. Other regional or national institutional stakeholders, private sector and civil society organisations can use this tool for themselves to assess the opportunities and the feasibility of the various reform scenarios. By bringing these additional perspectives to the table, we could get a more realistic and down-to-earth review process. This, in turn, may help to formulate workable ‘win-win’ solutions for the future”.

About us

ECDPM is an independent, non-partisan broker. For 30 years, ECDPM has been involved in ACP-EU cooperation, both at the policy and operational levels. This analysis of four possible scenarios for the future of ACP-EU relations follows on from our political economy analysis of the ACP-EU partnership, released earlier this year. It describes how the ACP-EU partnership gradually lost much of its status and political traction over the past decade, as the environment for international cooperation went through a series of profound changes.

Contact us for a quote or an interview

ECDPM’s Deputy Director, Geert Laporte, is available for interviews in English, French and Dutch. Contact Melissa Julian, Head of Communications, at +32 (0) 473 28 11 65 or

Political Economy AnalysisACP Group of StatesCotonou AgreementEuropean Union (EU)AfricaCaribbeanEuropePacific