The European Union has given its final approval to a new post-Cotonou partnership between the EU and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) States. After two years of waiting, this important document has finally been signed. Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, member of the European Parliament and Vice-President of the Delegation for Relations between the European Union and the ACP countries, writes on the breakthrough and what the new agreement means for the relations between both sides
EU-ACP relations are the most important partnership relations between the two parties. The European Union has 27 Member States and the ACP has 78, making a political force of 105 countries from three continents.
We, therefore, welcome the decision taken on 20 July by the EU Foreign Affairs Council to approve the signing of the new partnership agreement between the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OEACP) and the European Union, which was concluded in April 2021.
It is a document that puts an end to the months of waiting that have affected the strategic partnership between the two sides.
At our meeting in June, ACP parliamentarians expressed their concern about the long delays. This happened at the various meetings we held in Maputo, Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Maseru, Strasbourg, and Brussels.
Our partners have shown great patience, even if we all found it difficult to understand how two countries, Hungary and Poland, could hold 105 countries hostage for two years.
With the Council’s approval, we can look to the future with confidence. We will be able to speed up the internal procedures and bring the new agreement into force fairly quickly.
Our next meeting in Vanuatu in October will be welcomed by all as a great relief. We will be able to move forward with our agenda and make up as quickly as possible for the delays that have held back the strengthening of our partnership.
This important new agreement paves the way for concerted and more coordinated action on the international stage. It strengthens our cooperation and enhances the parliamentary dimension of our relationship. In short, it extends the scope of our commitment and the scale of the EU’s and the OEACP’s ambitions to better meet current and future challenges.
The origins of the post-Cotonou agreement.
Twenty years after it was first signed, the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the EU and 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries was due to expire in February 2020, but was extended until December 2021 because negotiations on a new agreement took longer than expected.
In the end, the signing of the agreement was postponed until June 2023. At that time, the Commissioner for International Partnerships told us that the signing of the agreement would have to be delayed by a further four months, which scared off some of our ACP partners. We are therefore delighted that all obstacles have been removed and that our next meetings will take place in a more encouraging environment.
The ACP-EU Agreement is the most comprehensive partnership between the EU and the ACP countries. It is also the driving force behind the European Union’s development cooperation and external relations.
The European Parliament, and in particular the DEVE Committee, strongly supports a deep and continuous ACP-EU partnership on an equal footing with the joint institutions, including the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, while supporting regionalisation to strengthen the partnership with Africa. The Parliament has repeatedly called on Member States to sign the new agreement so that it can be implemented as soon as possible. This has now happened. It is a matter of relief for all of us.
Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana,
Member of the European Parliament
1st Vice-President of the “Development” Committee
Vice-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly
Vice-President of the Delegation with the Pan-African Parliament