The African, Carribean and Pacific group of states (ACP) and the EU’s trade and development cooperation Cotonou Agreement is up for renegotiation by June of this year.
Dubbed a “cornerstone of development cooperation and trade relations”, the Cotonou Agreement involved 78 countries as diverse as South Africa to Barbados to Somalia and Cuba.
Outlined in 2000, the treaty was committed to addressing global challenges such as climate change, and natural resource management and governance. It also engaged with addressing the fundamental link between conserving natural resources and ecosystems with efforts towards poverty reduction and increased human well being.
Sustainable development and the integration of ACP countries into the world economy were also key aims.
Following the landmark agreements in Paris at COP21, and the adoption of the joint declaration for the Post 2015 Development Agenda, the ACP and the EU have jointly called for the Paris Agreement to be legally binding, and as such have demonstrated a combined will to tackle common challenges such as climate change.
Nonetheless, with the EU committing 475 million euros to support climate action, resilience-building and environmental priorities in ACP countries up to 2020, members of civil society such as CONCORD Europe are concerned that the donor-recipient dynamic may influence whether “the ACP-EU partnership is strong enough to overcome other geopolitical interests.”
With disagreements over the conditionality of aid still continuing both inside and outside the EU, the EU donation will no doubt influence negotiations.
Within the EU itself, a French source has explained that “Member States are divided into two camps: those that want a simple repackaging of the Cotonou Agreement and those that want the post-2020 agreement to be non-binding.”
There are also discussions as to a potential enlargement of the agreement, which would take into account regional variants according to the different geographical zones.
Civil society are calling for “a multistakeholder dialogue that is framed within the Sustainable Development Goals of the new Agenda 2030”. They argue that the Cotonou Agreement so far “ has not been sufficient to reverse the negative trend”, as ACP countries are facing increasing environmental challenges linked to unsusatinable and inequitable natural resource management.
Inequality also ranks high on the list of priorities, with CONCORD maintaining that "inequalities not only persist but are in some cases exacerbated. Whereas this is a global trend, the ACP-EU partnership has failed to ensure that preconditions to avoid inequality are put into place."
As such, civil society organisations are calling for an agreement that would support a development model that is people and planet centred, which caters for the needs of future generations.
To read the full list of CONCORD’s recommendations for the ACP-EU partnership, click here.
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