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. 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. (Source: European Parliament Briefing – Overview of the EU-ACP Partnership Agreements by Ionel Zamfir) 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. “We are in the final phase of negotiations,” a European Commission spokeswoman told the DW. More than 95% of the treaty text agrees. However, the Commission refused to provide specific information or conduct an interview. The future agreement is expected to cover priority areas such as: this is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU, covering EU relations with 79 countries, 48 of which are from sub-Saharan Africa. Experts see the EPA dispute as the main obstacle to a new agreement. But it does not appear that the EU will give in.
It would also be difficult: “A new agreement cannot fundamentally influence partnership agreements. These are independent international treaties that cannot be significantly changed by a new agreement,” said expert DIE Keijzer. Instead, the EU would prefer to promise additional aid to facilitate African countries` trade with Europe: money for infrastructure or border management, for example. (i) Regional agreements meant that EPAs would contribute to greater regional integration, facilitate the entry of ACP economies into the global economy and stimulate trade and investment. From the EU`s point of view, the EU remains the main (and in some cases) largest trading partner of the ACP regional economic communities (see Chart 1 below). Following the WTO dispute, the EU had until 2007 to incorporate the Lomé agreements into WTO rules. The EU Green Paper highlighted several options for post-year 2000 trade agreements, including: (i) uniform trade agreements in relation to several trade agreements; (ii) differentiated and general trade agreements; (iii) reciprocal and non-reciprocal trade agreements; and (iv) the treaty (long-term, bilateral or multilateral security) towards a unilateral agreement (at the eu`s political discretion). The current CPA expires in February 2020 and negotiations for a successor agreement are expected to begin in September 2018, with the aim of adapting the partnership to frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.
The negotiations will take place in the context of the evolution of geopolitics and the postponement of global alliances that cast a shadow over the integrity of the ACP group.