After several months of interruption due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the 28-member European Union and the 79-member Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) resumed negotiations for a new agreement in June. There is also a dispute over money. The Cotonou agreement also regulated financial relations. Over the past six years, OACPS has jointly received more than 30 billion euros ($35 billion) in development aid from Brussels. Governments in poor countries want this to continue. “THE ACP countries have insisted that a financial protocol be part of the convention,” says Keijzer. On the other hand, the EU is cautious and only wants to make general commitments. In the future, the money would come from the regular budget. However, this decision must be taken annually by the Member States. A risk to OACPS. The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly is an advisory body made up equally of representatives from the EU and ACP countries. The Assembly promotes democratic processes and facilitates a better understanding between the peoples of the EU and those of the ACP countries.

Issues related to development and the ACP-EU partnership, including economic partnership agreements, will also be discussed. The aim of this procedure is to return to a normal relationship between the partners. In the absence of an agreement, the party that initiated the process can take action on cooperation projects and development assistance. Perhaps the most radical amendment introduced by the Cotonou Agreement concerns trade cooperation. Since the first Lomé Convention in 1975, the EU has not granted reciprocal trade preferences to ACP countries. However, under the Cotonou Agreement, this system has been replaced by the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), a new regime that came into force in 2008. The new regime provides for reciprocal trade agreements, which means that not only does the EU grant duty-free access to its ACP export markets, but also that ACP countries grant duty-free access to their own markets for EU exports. The EU will work towards a comprehensively revised agreement, based on a common basis at THE ACP level, in conjunction with three bespoke regional partnerships for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. The Council gives the Commission a mandate to negotiate these agreements and must sign the final agreement as soon as it is concluded. The implementation of the Cotonou agreement has been extended until December 2020. The agreement was originally due to expire in February 2020, but as negotiations on the future agreement are still ongoing, this has been delayed until the end of the year.

Also in July 2014, negotiations with the countries of the Southern African Development Community concluded successfully. The agreement was signed on 10 June 2016 in Kasane, Botswana. It entered the provisional application on 10 October 2016. Many African countries are calling for a new course, especially in terms of trade relations. The Cotonou agreement laid the groundwork for the controversial Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). In recent years, the EU has negotiated such agreements with various OACPS members. Essentially, both parties agree to reduce tariffs and other trade barriers and open their markets to the other party`s products. “Agreements are seen as unfair in Africa,” says Maré.

Our current relations with ACP countries are governed by the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (2000), also known as the Cotonou Agreement, which brings together more than 100 partner countries and about 1.5 billion people. It is the most comprehensive partnership agreement ever signed between the EU and third countries. It is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU, covering EU relations with 79 countries, 48 of them from sub-Saharan Africa.