Brokering the post-Cotonou Agreement

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The research

The Cotonou Agreement has been governing relations between the European Union (EU) and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) since June 2000. It encompasses numerous policy areas—including development, trade, migration and mobility, peace and security, democracy and human rights, environment and climate change—affecting the lives of more than a billion people.

However, the renewal of the Agreement was impeded by the conflicting preferences of EU Member States on the one hand and the adoption of competing frameworks and the rise of regional actors in the three OACPS regions on the other hand.

While dismantling the EU-OACPS partnership had been advocated by some EU Member States and the African Union, Professor Carbone’s research highlighted the need to preserve some aspects of it, whilst strengthening coherence with other policy frameworks and ensuring that strategic priorities be tailored to the specific needs of the three OACPS regions.

Furthermore, Professor Maurizio Carbone’s research revealed how the EU and the OACPS had only in part succeeded in joining forces in the international arena to support shared values and sustainable development.

The Impact

In 2015, Professor Carbone was invited to serve as a Policy Advisor to the EU Taskforce on the Post-Cotonou Agreement.

His research contributed to a proposed legal framework, which consisted of a general part applicable to all parties and introduced the idea of three separate regional pillars, which allowed for the targeting of specific policy actions to different countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

This innovative approach was incorporated into the proposal for the EU’s negotiating directives adopted by the European Commission in December 2017 and then by the EU Council in June 2018. Carbone’s research and advice then supported the EU negotiating directives and informed discussions within the OACPS on the structure of the new Agreement.

On 3 December 2020, the chief negotiators from the EU and OACPS reached a political deal on the text for a new EU-OACPS Agreement that will succeed the Cotonou Agreement, which they initialled on 15 April 2021.

The EU Chief Negotiator said, ‘The deal marks a step towards a new era for the EU, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. People in all those four regions of the world will benefit from this ambitious Agreement.’

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First published: 2 June 2021