What is the Cotonou Agreement?

Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) is a global partnership treaty signed between the fifteen Member States of the European Union (EU) and seventy-eight countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) at June 23, 2000, in Cotonou Benin for the period 2000 to 2020. It was applied for the first time in 2003 and modified in 2005 and March 2010. The CPA aims at poverty reduction and final elimination for sustainable development.


ACP-EU cooperation was guided by the 1975 Lome Conventions prior to the year 2000. The decision to re-strategic these relations was due to significant progress in global socio-economic and political relations. The 2010 ACP review considered emerging global challenges. Unique in this includes the growing importance of regional integration in tackling cross-border challenges, the need to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), climate change and stability. Other objectives were the inclusion of other non-state actors such as civil society organizations, aid effectiveness, cooperation in peace initiatives and reaffirmation of the role of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) in promoting development.

Thematic areas

The PCA establishes a north-south cooperation on three pillars: development cooperation, political cooperation and economic and commercial cooperation. The guiding principles provide equal partnerships and provisions for ACP countries to possess their own development strategies, participation of additional non-state actors, continuous dialogue and mutual responsibility on fundamental and universal issues such as human rights and differentiation and regionalization at the level of development partner, performance, economic needs and development strategy.

Political benefits

The agreement offers ACP members the chance to face and learn from past political challenges. Political dialogue for strong ACP-EU cooperation is a key element of the agreement and touches upon issues not previously considered in development cooperation. These include migration, arms trade and peace and security. “Good governance” is also included as an essential section which, if violated, can lead to a partial or complete suspension of cooperation between the violating country and the EU. Under the agreement, both state and non-state actors are encouraged to engage in honest and balanced political dialogues to promote a democratic culture, good governance, fair distribution of resources, dignity and freedom, security, stability and rule of law. The agreement emphasizes respect for human rights and freedoms. International institutions such as the African Union and the International Criminal Court are charged with providing conflict resolution and accountability services in times of significant challenges and conflicts. These challenges range from trade disputes to crimes against humanity.

Benefits in economic and commercial cooperation

Within the CPA, the EU has abolished the non-reciprocal commercial approach to ACP countries. EPAs (also known as free trade agreements) are designed to allow individual countries and regional authorities enter a free market system of restrictions. The CPA leaves it to the ACP countries to decide the level and procedures of trade negotiations, considering their regional integration process. ACP countries are encouraged to negotiate collectively as a region, including through bilateral negotiations between countries. APEs also take into account the level of development of partners, needs, performance and development strategy. LDLIS receive a more special treatment and favorable conditions with which they are comfortable.

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