What Future for the ACP and the Cotonou Agreement? Preparing for the Next Steps in the Debate
The partnership between the EU and the ACP Group (African, Caribbean and Pacific countries)—the largest and most sophisticated North-South partnership—dates back to 1975. The successive Lomé Conventions (1975–2000) and the Cotonou Agreement (2000–2020) have provided the legal basis for this arrangement, which currently comprises 78 ACP countries and 27 EU member states. Combining political dialogue with cooperation on trade and development finance, the agreement is based on shared principles and values and co-management through joint institutions.
The current Cotonou Agreement will expire in 2020, which, in political terms, seems an eternity. Both the ACP Group and the EU are making efforts to implement the Agreement for the remaining eight years in an optimal manner. Currently, negotiations are also ongoing among the EC, the European Parliament and the EU member states on the volume of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) covering the period 2014–2020 and whether this would be inside or outside of the EU budget. With an EC proposal of some 34 billion Euros, it can be assumed that the EDF will continue to be the largest instrument in financial terms for the EU External Action in the period 2014–2020.