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Overview of ACP-EU-Partnership Agreement ("The Cotonou Agreement")
The "Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part and the European Union and its Member States of the other part" was signed on 23 June 2000 in Cotonou, Bénin – hence the name " ACP-EU Partnership Agreement" or "Cotonou Agreement". It was concluded for a twenty-year period from March 2000 to February 2020, and entered into force in April 2003. It was for the first time revised in June 2005, with the revision entering into force on 1 July 2008.
The Cotonou Agreement is a global agreement, introducing important changes and ambitious objectives while preserving the 'acquis' of 25 years of ACP-EU cooperation.
Compared to preceding agreements and conventions shaping EU's development cooperation, the Cotonou Agreement represents further progress in a number of aspects. It is designed to establish a comprehensive partnership, based on three complementary pillars:
- development cooperation,
- economic and trade cooperation, and
- the political dimension.
The objectives of the Cotonou Agreement
The partnership is centred on the objective of reducing and eventually eradicating poverty consistent with the objectives of sustainable development and the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy (Art. 1 of Cotonou Agreement).
The fundamental principles of the Cotonou Agreement
- equality of the partners and ownership of the development strategies;
- participation (central governments as the main partners, partnership open to different kinds of other actors)
- pivotal role of dialogue and the fulfilment of mutual obligations
- differentiation and regionalisation
The actors of the Cotonou Agreement
- The actors of cooperation are:
- States (authorities and/or organisations of states at local, national and regional level);
- Non-state actors (private sector; economic and social partners, including trade union organisations, civil society in all its forms according to national characteristics).
The implementation of the Cotonou Agreement
The European Development Fund (EDF) is the main instrument for providing Community assistance for development cooperation under the Cotonou Agreement. The EDF is funded by the EU Member State on the basis of specific contribution keys. Each EDF is concluded for a multi-annual period.
The 10th EDF covers the period from 2008 to 2013 and has been allocated € 22.7 billion; it was established between the EU Member States by Internal Agreement. In comparison to the 9th EDF which covered the period 2000 to 2007, the initial amount available has increased by almost 65 % (the 9th EDF was initially allocated € 13.8 billion for 2000-2007).
The cooperation with the ACP States funded from the EDF is complemented by development cooperation funded from the EU budget, through budgetary instruments - the Development Cooperation Instrument, the Instrument for Stability, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the European Humanitarian Aid Instrument.
The Cotonou Agreement provides for a revision clause which foresees that the agreement is adapted every five years. The second revision of the Cotonou Agreement is anticipated to take place in 2010.
The contracting parties and the "ACP Group of States"
The Cotonou Agreement established a unique partnership between the ACP States on the one hand, and the European Union and its Member States on the other hand.
The notion of "ACP States" goes back to the "ACP Group of States", formally established in 1975 with the Georgetown Agreement , which was initially signed by 46 African, Caribbean and Pacific states. Today, the ACP Group of States counts 79 countries , 78 of them signatories of the Cotonou-Agreement (with Cuba being the exception). South Africa is a contracting party of the Cotonou Agreement, but not all the provisions apply to the cooperation between South Africa and the EC (see protocol 3 of the Cotonou Agreement).
The ACP Group of States has its own institutions and decision making processes. It relates with the European Community through the joint institutions of the Cotonou Agreement.
Historical background and revisions
Relations between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States are a particularly important aspect of the EU development cooperation policy and, more widely, of its external action.
The EU support to Sub-Saharan Africa received a more structured approach through the successive Yaoundé Conventions (1963 - 1975). The accession of the UK to the European Union broadened the geographic scope of the partnership to African, Caribbean and Pacific Commonwealth countries. The "ACP Group of States" was founded by the Georgetown Agreement in 1975.
From 1975 until 2000 the ACP-EU relations were governed by the regularly adapted and updated Lomé Conventions (Lomé I – Lomé IV bis). However, important developments on the international stage, and socio-economic and political changes in the ACP countries highlighted the need for a re-thinking of ACP-EC cooperation. A green paper on the relations between the EU and the ACP countries was launched in 1996 (COM(96)570 final of 20 November 1996).
Against a background of an intensive public debate, negotiations started in September 1998 for a comprehensive revision of the ACP-EU relations. These negotiations were successfully concluded in early February 2000 and led to the conclusion of the Cotonou Agreement.
The first revision to the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement
In accordance with the revision clause, negotiations to revise the agreement for the first time were launched in May 2004 and concluded in February 2005. The overriding objective of revision process was to enhance the effectiveness and quality of the ACP-EU partnership. The revised Agreement entered into force on 01 July 2008.
The revision in 2005 focussed on the following aspects and amendments:
- Political dimension: strengthening the political dimension by placing greater emphasis on effective dialogue and results (Art. 8, 9, 96, 97, Annex VII); inclusion of a provision on the International Criminal Court,of a reference to cooperation in countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,of a clause which confirms partners’ international cooperation in the fight against terrorism, and of provision relating to the prevention of mercenary activities.
- Development strategies: amendments relating to sectoral strategies; a reference to the promotion of the fight against poverty-related diseases and protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights of women; insertion of provisions to facilitate non-state actor access to indicative programme resources; facilitation of cooperation between ACP States and other developing countries (regional cooperation); promotion of traditional knowledge as part of sectoral economic development; strengthening of existing provisions on island ACP States.
- A more flexible and more effective implementation of the investment facility, which is managed by the European Investment Bank.
- Implementation and management procedures: the first revision provided, among others, g reater flexibility in the allocation of resources; possibility to use resources for policies to promote peace and to manage and settle conflicts, including post-conflict support; reformulation of the responsibilities of managing and executing agents.
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