The Cotonou Partnership Agreement: What role in a changing world? Reflections on the future of ACP-EU relations
In a rapidly changing world the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement (2000-2020) faces steep challenges. When Cotonou was signed in 2000 it represented a huge step forward in ACP-EU and international North-South relations. Cotonou was setting an ambitious and innovative agenda in terms of political dialogue, non-state actors participation, trade and development and performance based aid management. In several of these areas major progress has been realised, in others Cotonou was not yet able to live up to the high expectations. In recent years some fundamental changes in the EU and the ACP cast a cloud upon the Cotonou Partnership and its future. Several factors illustrate the rapidly changing ACP-EU landscape including the closer relations between the EU and the African Union with the Joint EU-Africa Strategy and the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) which are likely to affect the unity of the ACP Group. After one third of its projected life-span it is therefore time that the ACP and the EU reassess, reorient and perhaps reinvent the ACP-EU Partnership.