ACP-EU relations beyond 2020: engaging the future or perpetuating the past?

Bossuyt, Jean / Niels Keijzer / Alfonso Medinilla / Andrew Sherriff / Geert Laporte / Marc de Tollenaere
External Publications (2017)

published on European Centre for Development Policy Management September 2017


In September 2018, negotiations are due to start between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States as to what should organise their relations after the expiration of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA). The EU’s draft negotiation position is currently under preparation and builds on the 22 November 2016 Joint Communication in which DEVCO and EEAS unveiled a preferred option for the future. From the outset, the EU insisted that a simple rollover of the Cotonou Agreement -which has governed ACP-EU relations since 2000- would be inadequate to deliver on the multiple challenges of today’s world. The review of this specific partnership could therefore be seen as a litmus test of the EU institutions and Member States overall ability to fundamentally adapt its external action and development cooperation approaches.

The brief concludes by hinting at possible alternatives based on unambiguously shifting the centre of gravity to the regions, fundamentally rethinking the role and set-up of the overarching ACP-EU framework, making the link with the debate on future EU financing instruments, reviewing the governance systems for greater inclusivity and unlocking the debate (including by using the next Africa-EU Summit to openly discuss this future of this partnership).

About the author

Keijzer, Niels

Social Science


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