How Brexit may affect ACP-EU relations: an historical perspective

Brexit weakens the arguments in favour of a continued close association between the European Union (EU) and the Caribbean and Pacific ACP states like under the Cotonou Agreement.

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    This is mainly because these states became associated with the EU as a direct result of the UK’s accession to the European Economic Community in 1973. However, it certainly does not imply that there should be no more cooperation between the EU27 and the Caribbean and Pacific regions after the end of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020, but rather that the future relationship should be based more on common interests than on colonial history. The Caribbean Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) already covers trade and has an unlimited duration. It can be complemented by appropriate arrangements for development cooperation and political dialogue. Political dialogue between the EU and the Caribbean will further be part of the wider dialogue between the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the EU. There are similar arguments for a specific agreement between the Pacific region and the EU reflecting common interests and covering the pillars of trade, development and political dialogue.

    As regards the African ACP states, Brexit does not diminish the case for continuing the present close association of the Cotonou Agreement. However, with the increased prominence and importance of the African Union for the EU in terms of political dialogue, cooperation and addressing common challenges, the future association between the EU and sub-Saharan Africa should be open to North African countries that are ready and willing to take part. In this way, a single ambitious framework could gradually cover the Africa-EU relation.

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