Towards Renewal or Oblivion? Prospects for Post-2020 Cooperation between the European Union and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group


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    The Cotonou Partnership Agreement, the current framework for the EU’s political, trade and development cooperation with the African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) Group, is set to expire in 2020. A fundamental rethinking of the Agreement is now underway. Most studies on future modalities for ACP-EU cooperation post-2020, have focused on the institutional running of the Agreement. This new joint research project by ECDPM and the German Development Institute seeks to complement these studies with perceptions on the past, present and future of the EU and ACP’s special relationship gathered from a selection of 10 ACP countries. The findings display a clear gap between Brussels and the ACP constituencies in terms of understanding, interest and appreciation of ACP-EU cooperation. 

    One of Europe’s most remarkable external achievements is a comprehensive and legally binding international cooperation agreement that unites more than half of the world’s nation states. Signed in Benin in 2000, the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA, commonly referred to as the ‘Coto- nou Agreement’ or just ‘Cotonou’) intends to intensify the long-standing cooperation in politics, trade and development between the European Union (EU) and the countries of Africa, the Carib- bean and the Pacific (ACP). This collaboration has led to the creation and evolution of unique institutions that facilitate ACP–EU cooperation among public officials, members of Parliament, and many other partnership actors.

    The changing global context, along with institutional, political and socioeconomic developments in the EU and the ACP, raise questions about whether this approach to cooperation has sufficiently delivered on its objectives, and which evolutions – or revolutions – may be necessary for these regions’ future cooperation. In recent years, various studies have examined this topic, mostly focusing on the Brussels-based ACP and EU representatives who manage and shape the cooperation. This paper seeks to complement existing evidence with the findings of a detailed review of the literature and the perceptions of past, present and future ACP–EU cooperation gathered from a wide range of stakeholders in ten ACP countries. With the CPA’s current cooperation framework scheduled to expire in 2020 it seems both warranted and timely to capture such perceptions for use in discussions about the future.

    The analysis presented here is based on information collected in a structured survey of literature and semi-structured interviews with ACP officials in Brussels, as well as with a large variety of stakeholders in ten ACP countries – Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Nigeria, Suriname, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago and Zambia. 



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