Post-Cotonou EU reaches agreement

The EU and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States have sealed a new agreement. DW speaks with the chief negotiators about finding common ground on issues including migration and human rights.
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Post-Cotonou: EU reaches agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific States

The EU and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States have sealed a new agreement. DW speaks with the chief negotiators about finding common ground on issues including migration and human rights.

The partnership between the European Union and 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) is one of the EU’s oldest and broadest cooperations with other countries.

Both sides, the EU and ACP, have now concluded the negotiations for a new treaty that will replace the current legal framework known as the Cotonou agreement — which has been in place for over 20 years. So far, the EU-ACP partnership focuses on the eradication of poverty and sustainable development. The new post-Cotonou deal includes a broader range of policy areas, such as climate protection, human rights and migration issues. 

‘A long process’

Negotiator Robert Dussey, Togo’s foreign minister, made clear the deal was not easily brokered. “I think it was most difficult to figure out the issues that separate us,” he told DW. “We mainly disagreed on migration, human rights issues and sexual orientation.”

Dussey had traveled to Brussels this week to join Jutta Urpilainen, the Finnish EU Commissioner responsible for international partnerships. Despite the pandemic, the chief negotiators wanted to present the good news together: After more than two and a half years of negotiations, the European Union, represented by Urpilainen, and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), represented by Dussey, concluded the negotiations for a new partnership agreement.

DW met up with both chief negotiators in Brussels.“It has been a long process,” Jutta Urpilainen said. The main reason was that there were different kinds of opinions and different kinds of sensitivities when trying to reconcile 27 EU states and 79 ACP countries.

The European Union and these 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states, mostly former colonies of EU nations, have a special relationship. A first agreement, mainly focused on development aid and trade, was signed in 1975 and dubbed the Lomé Convention. It was followed by the Cotonou Agreement, a treaty that will now be replaced — once signed and ratified — by this new deal (it will be named after the so far unknown city where it will be signed).

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