Enlargement of the Cotonou Agreement?

February 10, 2016

Hat: EU considers enlarging Cotonou Agreement into Latin America and Asia

Funding Scheme: 2016-02-10

Pgm2014 2020: Yes


As the Cotonou Agreement expires in 2020 some argue that the next cooperation agreement should be enlarged into Latin America and Asia.


Member states and their ACP partners have already begun preparations for the next phase of their cooperation. Since the year 2000, the EU’s political and trade relations and development cooperation with 78 other countries have been governed by the agreement. This single structure unites a group of countries as diverse as South Africa, St Kitts and Nevis and the Bahamas.

The EU’s development and foreign trade ministers discussed how the end of the Cotonou Agreement should be managed at an informal meeting in the Netherlands on Tuesday 2 February.

These discussions will be followed by the publication of the results of a public consultation on the Cotonou Agreement and an assessment of its implementation. A negotiation mandate for the post-Cotonou cooperation framework will be given to the EU by June this year.

Towards enlargement?

This enlargement could see a future agreement based on a broad common framework, embroidered with regional variants that take into account the different situations in different geographical zones.

Further uncertainty has arisen over the form that future cooperation between the EU and the ACP countries will take.

Human rights

Political dialogue between the EU and the ACP countries was one of the pillars of the Cotonou Agreement, and has been one of its greatest successes.

In return for European Union aid, beneficiary countries must respect a series of political, technical and democratic conditions defined in the agreement.

The Cotonou Agreement provides a framework for both partners regarding the respect of fundamental rights, and prescribes a consultation period of up to four months when these rights are breached. Article 96 of the agreement allows states to take “appropriate measures” if the terms of the agreement are violated, which may include the suspension of aid programmes.

In practice, restrictive measures have rarely been adopted, and usually in cases where democratic processes have been violated. Article 96 has been invoked around 15 times since 2000, in response to coups d’état and human rights violations in Fiji (2000 and 2007) Zimbabwe (2002) and Madagascar (2010). It was also recently invoked against Burundi.

But according to a report published in January by the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), the Cotonou Agreement has failed to bring the expected results, a problem that various revisions have been unable to change.

The scope of the agreement, particularly on issues like sexual orientation, has often been weak.

During a review of the Cotonou Agreement in 2013, the European Parliament denounced the absence of a framework for the rights of homosexuals. But this is a taboo subject between the two partner groups, and sexual orientation has never been successfully included in the agreement.

Homosexuality is still considered a crime in 28 ACP countries, and discriminatory laws in certain countries often provoke tensions between the EU and certain members of the ACP group, like Uganda.

Url description: Euractiv

Url: http://www.euractiv.com/sections/development-policy/eu-considers-enlarging-cotonou-agreement-latin-america-and-asia-321748