Cotonou agreement

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The Cotonou Agreement is a treaty between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States ("ACP countries"). It was signed in June 2000 in Cotonou, Benin's largest city, by 78 ACP countries (Cuba did not sign) and the then fifteen Member States of the European Union. It entered into force in 2003 and was subsequently revised in 2005 and 2010.


The Cotonou Agreement replaced the Lomé Convention, which had been the basis for ACP-EU development cooperation since 1975. The Cotonou Agreement, however, is much broader in scope than any previous arrangement has ever been. It is designed to last for a period of 20 years and is based on four main principles:

• Equality of partners and ownership of development strategies. In principle, it is up to ACP states to determine how their societies and their economies should develop.

• Participation. In addition to the central government as the main actor, partnership under the Cotonou Agreement is open to other actors (e.g., civil society, the private sector, and local governments).

• Dialogue and mutual obligations. The Cotonou Agreement is not merely a pot of money. The signatories have assumed mutual obligations (e.g., respect for human rights) which will be monitored through continuing dialogue and evaluation.

• Differentiation and regionalisation. Cooperation agreements will vary according to each partner's level of development, needs, performance and long-term development strategy. Special treatment will be given to countries that are considered least developed or vulnerable (landlocked or island states).

The fundamental principles of the Cotonou Agreement include equality of partners, global participation (States and non-state actors), dialogue and regionalisation. The Agreement entered into force in April 2003 and has been revised in 2005 and 2010 in accordance with the revision clause to re-examine the Agreement every five years.

The Cotonou Agreement was designed to establish a comprehensive partnership with 3 pillars:

• Development cooperation

• Political cooperation

• Economic and trade cooperation (for the period 2000-2007)


Before the Cotonou Agreement, Lomé Conventions applied. However, important developments on the international stage, socio-economic and political changes in the ACP countries highlighted the need for a re-thinking of ACP-EU cooperation.

Following an intensive public debate, negotiations started in September 1998 for a revision of the ACP-EU relations. These negotiations were successfully achieved in early February 2000 and led to the conclusion of the Cotonou Agreement.

In accordance with the revision clause to re-examine the Agreement every five years, negotiations to modify the Agreement for the first time were launched in May 2004 and concluded in February 2005. The objective was to enhance the effectiveness and quality of the EU-ACP partnership and to reflect the recent major changes in international and ACP-EU relations.


1. Development

The EU supports programmes and initiatives benefiting multiple countries in the group of ACP States. It also has programmes for further regional economic growth and development for specific regions within the ACP. The EU finances most of its development programmes for ACP partner countries through the European development fund (EDF). These funds are not part of the EU's general budget. They are governed by an internal agreement between Member States meeting within the Council.

The 11th EDF, adopted in 2013, runs from 2014 to 2020 and includes a total of €30.5 billion.

• Internal agreement on the 11th European Development Fund (EDF)

2. Trade

The EU has negotiated a series of economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with the 79 ACP countries. These agreements aim to create a shared trade and development partnership backed up by development support. The Council provides the Commission with the mandate to negotiate these agreements and has to sign the final agreement once it is finalised.

EPAs with African countries

In July 2014, 16 West African states, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) initiated an agreement with the EU. The signature process is currently ongoing.

• EPA agreement with west Africa

Also in July 2014, negotiations were successfully concluded with countries in the Southern African Development Community. The agreement was signed on 10 June 2016 in Kasane, Botswana. It entered into provisional application on 10 October 2016.

• EU to sign Economic Partnership Agreement with the South African Development Community EPA Group, 1 June 2016

• EPA agreement with SADC EPA states

• Factsheet: key advantages of the EPA between the EU and the SADC EPA states (European Commission)

In October 2014, negotiations were successfully concluded with the East African Community. The signature process is currently ongoing.

• East African Community: EU to sign economic partnership agreement with Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda

• EPA agreement with the East African Community partner states Cameroon was the only country in the region to sign the EPA between the EU and Central Africa on 15 January 2009. On 4 August 2014 the agreement entered into provisional application.

• Central Africa – EU economic partnership agreement Regarding the Eastern and Southern Africa region, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zimbabwe and Madagascar signed an EPA in 2009. The agreement has been applied on a provisional basis since 14 May 2012.

• Eastern and Southern Africa States - EU economic partnership agreement

EPA in the Caribbean region

In October 2008, the EU signed an EPA with the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM), a group of 15 Caribbean states. The CARIFORUM-EU EPA has been provisionally applied since 29 December 2008.

• CARIFORUM – EU economic partnership agreement

EPA in the Pacific region

The interim EPA between the EU and Pacific ACP States was signed by Papua New Guinea in July 2009 and by Fiji in December 2009. Papua New Guinea ratified it in May 2011. In July 2014, Fiji decided to start provisionally applying the agreement. Of the 14 Pacific countries, Papua New Guinea and Fiji account for the bulk of EU-Pacific trade.

• Pacific States - EU economic partnership agreement

3. Migration

Response to migratory pressures The Council and European Council are working to establish a comprehensive European migration policy.

• Finding solutions to migratory pressures (background information) Migration is an important aspect of EU-ACP relations. The framework for cooperation in this area is laid down in article 13 of the Cotonou Agreement.

• Valletta Summit on migration, 11-12 November 2015

4. Consultation procedure (Article 96)

The Cotonou Agreement establishes a procedure which may be used in cases where one of the parties does not comply with the essential elements of the partnership. These include respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. The goal of this procedure is to return to a normal relationship between the partners. If no agreement is reached, the party which launched the process may take measures regarding cooperation projects and development assistance. On the EU side, the Council can launch this process through an invitation to consultations. It leads the consultations and adopts the decision which concludes them.

• Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement - consultation procedure


The Cotonou Agreement is aimed at the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty while contributing to sustainable development and to the gradual integration of ACP countries into the world economy. The revised Cotonou Agreement is also concerned with the fight against impunity and promotion of criminal justice through the International Criminal Court.


In 1957, six European states founded the European Economic Community (EEC), which marked the beginning of the process of European integration. The process was systematically pushed forward, culminating in the creation of the European Union (EU) in 1993. The number of EU Member States has continued to grow, and will include no less than 25 in 2004.

The ACP Group has evolved from an alliance of 46 states when it was set up in 1975, to include 79 countries in 2003. In this group, 77 countries effectively signed the Cotonou Agreement and benefit from it. Cuba is member of the ACP Group, but did not sign the Cotonou Agreement, while EC support to South Africa is funded under a special budget line. ACP-EC cooperation The idea of 'European cooperation' started in the 1960s with economic cooperation agreements, mainly with independent French-speaking African countries. In 1975, the newly constituted ACP group and Europe concluded their first major partnership agreement -the Lomé I Convention. European cooperation now reaches out to all parts of the world. The EU (the European Community and the Member States) is now the world's largest provider of aid. This is not the place to dwell on the details of past ACP-EC cooperation, but the time chart ‘Milestones in ACP-EC cooperation’ indicates some key moments in the history of the partnership.


1. Angola

2. Antigua & Barbuda

3. Bahamas

4. Barbados

5. Belize

6. Bénin

7. Botswana

8. Burkina Faso

9. Burundi

10. Cameroon

11. Cape Verde

12. Central African Republic

13. Chad

14. Comoros

15. Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa)

16. Congo (Brazzaville)

17. Cook Islands

18. Cote d'Ivoire

19. Cuba

20. Djibouti

21. Dominica

22. Dominican Republic

23. East Timor

24. Equatorial Guinea

25. Eritrea

26. Ethiopia

27. Fiji

28. Gabon

29. Gambia

30. Ghana

31. Grenada

32. Guinea

33. Guinea-Bissau

34. Guyana

35. Haiti

36. Jamaica

37. Kenya

38. Kiribati

39. Lesotho

40. Liberia

41. Madagascar

42. Malawi

43. Mali

44. Marshall Islands

45. Mauritania

46. Mauritius

47. Federated States of Micronesia

48. Mozambiqu

49. Namibia

50. Nauru

51. Niger

52. Nigeria

53. Niue

54. Palau

55. Papua New Guinea

56. Rwanda

57. St. Kitts and Nevis

58. St. Lucia

59. St. Vincent and the Grenadines

60. Samoa

61. Sao Tome and Principe

62. Senegal

63. Seychelles

64. Sierra Leone

65. Solomon Islands

66. Somalia

67. South Africa

68. Sudan

69. Suriname

70. Swaziland

71. Tanzania

72. Togo

73. Tonga

74. Trinidad andTobago

75. Tuvalu

76. Uganda

77. Vanuatu

78. Zambia

79. Zimbabwe