May 20, 2011

The ACP and Europe: What future for a privileged relationship?

Posted: 10:27 AM UTC

by Geert Laporte on May 20, 2011

(Version française ci-dessous)

When it was signed in 2000, the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the 79-member African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States and the European Union was widely viewed as offering an ambitious and innovative agenda that would enhance political dialogue, encourage the participation of non-state actors and result in a more effective development cooperation framework. It therefore went beyond the narrow trade and aid focus that was the hallmark of earlier ACP-EU treaties, right from the first post-independence framework agreed in Yaoundé in 1963 through the four successive Lomé conventions implemented between 1975 and 2000.

Increasingly however, it appears that a constellation of global changes and internal dynamics has thrown the future of the partnership wide open.  A key driver in this has been the adoption of the new Lisbon Treaty in 2009, under which the EU has embarked on fundamental institutional reorganisation to strengthen its position as a global player. This includes a review of all existing EU partnership agreements on a geopolitical basis and along regional lines that has undermined the unity of the ACP Group and heightened doubts on the relevance of the ACP-EU framework.  Further complicating these internal dynamics is the growing political and economic muscle of the emerging powers, which has opened up new avenues of cooperation for developing countries.  It is not surprising that one of the very first actions taken by the incoming ACP Secretary General, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, was to appoint an Ambassadorial Working Group on the Future Perspectives of the ACP Group after 2020.

Brokering international relations post-2020

Having been set up 25 years ago with the primary goal of facilitating ACP-EU relations, these developments are likely to have a profound impact on the future of ECDPM. It is for this reason that to mark its silver jubilee this year, ECDPM is convening a high-level workshop entitled: “Global changes, emerging players and evolving ACP-EU relations: towards a common agenda for action?” The seminar will take place at ECDPM Maastricht on 30th June and 1st July 2011 and will be attended by 60 key stakeholders from diverse ACP and EU institutions.

While participation at the Maastricht seminar is by invitation only, ECDPM welcomes contributions from interested organisations and individuals to this timely debate.  We are looking in particular for innovative and forward-looking ideas, relating to the design of options and scenarios for the future of ACP-EU relations and for possible new partnerships between the ACP Group and other global players.

We propose the following five questions as a basis for further reflection and debate:

  1. How will the expanding global agenda affect ACP-EU relations? Does the current ACP-EU partnership provide a suitable political and institutional framework to address them?
  2. What is the impact of emerging economies on current and future ACP-EU relations?
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the ACP Group that may help to determine its future when the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires in 2020?
  4. What common interests could ensure a meaningful and effective ACP-EU partnership in the new global landscape?
  5. How can the ACP Group reinvent itself to develop a special niche and value added at the global level?

Join the discussion

ECDPM values your views on these questions. Please use the comment form at the bottom of this article to upload your contribution or send your input by email to the editor of Talking Points, Melissa Julian at [email protected]. You can also phone Melissa on +32 (0)47 3281165.

All relevant inputs will be incorporated in the final workshop report and the author of the best submission will receive an invitation to attend the Maastricht workshop.

More resources on ACP-EU cooperation

The ACP-EU workshop will draw on a number of policy-relevant studies by ECDPM staff and partner organisations. These resources – including discussion papers, policy briefings, blogs – are freely available on the ECDPM website.

Examples of recent analyses include:

DIE, ECDPM, FRIDE and ODI. 2010. New Challenges, New Beginnings - Next Steps in European Development Cooperation

Mackie, J., Koeb, E. and V. Tywuschik. 2008. For better for worse…Challenges for ACP-EU Relations in 2009 (ECDPM InBrief 22). Maastricht: ECDPM.

Montoute, A., Kangalee, Q. and Zahra Alleyne. 2011. Workshop Report: The Joint Caribbean EU Strategy - Reflections and Analysis. The Institute of International Relations (IIR), The University of the West Indies & ECDPM. Maastricht: ECDPM

ECDPM-SAIIA. 2010. Workshop Report: Emerging players in Africa: What’s in it for Africa-Europe relations?

Laporte, G. 2007.  The Cotonou Partnership Agreement: What role in a changing world? Reflections on the future of ACP-EU relations. ECDPM Policy Management Report 13

ECDPM. 2002. Cotonou Infokit (an accessible introduction to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement)

For more resources and updates of planned events, please visit the dedicated ECDPM 25th anniversary webpage.

In addition, The Broker, a bimonthly magazine on international development, is due to publish a special issue on the future of ACP-EU cooperation shortly. The report will be made available for download at


geert The ACP and Europe: What future for a privileged relationship? Geert Laporte is Deputy Director at ECDPM


Les ACP et l’Europe :

quel avenir pour une relation privilégiée ?

Dans le cadre des célébrations de son 25ème anniversaire, le Centre européen de gestion des politiques de développement (ECDPM) organise les 30 juin et 1er juillet prochains à Maastricht un séminaire de haut niveau sous le titre « Changements mondiaux, acteurs émergents et évolution des relations ACP-UE : vers un programme d’action commun ? ». Bien que ce séminaire soit uniquement sur invitation, toutes les contributions des particuliers et des organisations intéressées par le sujet sont les bienvenues.

Nous sommes plus particulièrement à la recherche de réflexions innovantes et tournées vers l’avenir, liées aux options et aux scénarios envisageables pour l’avenir des relations entre les ACP et l’UE et l’émergence de nouveaux partenariats entre le Groupe ACP et d’autres acteurs globaux.

À l’occasion de ce séminaire, l’ECDPM mettra une série de questions sur la table et invitera l’ensemble de la communauté de développement international à y répondre.

Participez à nos débats en prélude à cette conférence et partagez votre point de vue autour des questions suivantes :

  1. En quoi l’élargissement de l’agenda global va-t-il affecter les relations ACP-UE ? Le partenariat entre les ACP et l’UE offre-t-il, dans sa forme actuelle, un cadre politique et institutionnel adapté à ce nouvel agenda ?
  2. Quel est l’impact des économies émergentes sur le présent et l’avenir des relations ACP-UE ?
  3. Quelles sont les forces et les faiblesses du Groupe ACP face à la nécessité de déterminer son avenir lorsque l’Accord de partenariat de Cotonou arrivera à son terme en 2020 ?
  4. Quels intérêts communs peuvent sous-tendre un partenariat effectif et judicieux dans le nouveau paysage mondial ?
  5. Comment le Groupe ACP peut-il se réinventer pour trouver son créneau et sa valeur ajoutée sur la scène mondiale ?

L’ECDPM apprécie vos apports sur toutes ces questions. Veuillez faire part de vos points de vue à Melissa Julian, rédactrice de Weekly Compass et de Talking Points, soit par courriel ([email protected]) soit par téléphone (+32 (0)47 328 11 65), soit en laissant un commentaire sur notre blog à cette adresse :

Tous les apports pertinents seront repris dans le rapport final du séminaire et l’auteur de la meilleure contribution sera invité à assister au séminaire à Maastricht.

Par ailleurs, sachez que The Broker, bimestriel axé sur le développement international, consacrera prochainement un numéro spécial à l’avenir de la coopération ACP-UE. Ce numéro sera téléchargeable à cette adresse :

{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alan David Pena May 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm

The ACP group needs to renegotiate the Epas; they also need to look for extra financing from within the group and without, from the BRICS for example.

They need to become independant of EU financing in the long term if they are to be taken seriously in the new world envirenmont.

Intra ACP trade and financing need to be developped at a faster pace.


2 ECDPM Editorial Team May 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Posted on behalf of H.E. Patrick I. Gomes, Ambassador of Guyana to the European Union:

I think that future ACP-EU relations are what we make them to be. The “privileged partnership” of the ACP Group of 79 States and the 27 of the European Union aims to improve the material well-being and ensure human dignity, freedom and justice for the 800 million people in those 106 countries. If we step back and reflect on what has been achieved over the last 36 years since the Georgetown Agreement of 1975 which created the ACP Group – in terms of increased human capacity, protection of natural resources and more trade (the purchasing power of the EU is some US $13 trillion representing the second largest trading bloc after the continental USA for example) - one begins to get a sense of the scale, scope and enormous influence (commercial, economic, technical, social, cultural and political) that the ACP-EU partnership embodies.

I believe that many of us, so close to the day to day, complex engagements of ACP-EU relations - in trade, development cooperation, governance, culture, migration, educational mobility or technology transfer, for instance - are unable to be consistently conscious of how unique, exceptional and mutually enriching the “privileged partnership” has been for more than three decades.

And although enriching to both partners, it has been undoubtedly skewed in favour of the financially stronger partner - the EU. There is no gainsaying that Europe has benefitted enormously from the relationship through its privileged position of access, influence, and at times serious control if not coercion, over its former colonies. It has laid the foundation for industrialisation, commerce, scientific discoveries and a variety of human endeavours in art, music and literature whose value goes beyond purely monetary terms.

Of course, as with any partnership, what it is and becomes - for better or worse - inevitably depends on the circumstances at historical periods and what meaning is attributed to the dominant or underlying forces that shape those circumstances. And the future perspectives of the partnership will be decided by both sides.

The 106 ACP-EU countries will continue to exist whether or not there is a Cotonou Agreement. So it is more relevant to raise the question of the “shape” or form of their relationship. The countries must decide what they want their “relationship” to accomplish. Presumably, this would build on the accumulated experience of the past relationship - the investment of financial resources, political and cultural capital that has borne results - and chart a vision with strategic objectives that can be mutually beneficial to both the ACP and EU.

If only to make a quick glance to such a future, it seems encouraging to envision a Georgetown Two Agreement in 2021. Could it not be centred around an agenda for “participatory multilateralism and reformed global governance”? This would usher in, or vigorously pursue, a UN Security Council with permanent membership more genuinely representative of the North and South; streamlined UN coordination of Climate Change funding; and the abolition of poverty pursued through decentralised ecological zones of water, suitable land, appropriate technologies and value-added nutritional food production and marketing.

In considering ACP-EU relations of future decades, even if not defined as “privileged” as we know it today under Cotonou, I believe it is worth our effort of creative thinking and political commitment to pursue, beyond 2020, a “mature and enlarged engagement of countries of the South” - in which the ACP provides a core with a post-Lisbon Europe that has earned its rightful place as a global player - on principled positions for democracy, rule of law and the abolition of poverty globally.


3 ECDPM Editorial Team May 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Posted on behalf of H.E. Marcia Gilbert-Roberts, Ambassador of Jamaica to the EU

The ACP-EU relationship is important to both sides. Undoubtedly, the EU has provided critical development support to the ACP Group of States. At the same time, ACP states have much to offer in the partnership as its countries have resources that are of importance to EU’s development interests and the ACP needs partners to support them in the transition to sustainable development.

The ACP States ought to begin now to examine opportunities for continuing and indeed to develop the relationship. That goal will require some introspection as well as some bold and creative thinking for placing the partnership on a new and more effective path.

It may well be that ACP states should examine modalities for triangular partnerships which will allow them to continue to develop the relationship with the EU while also building new partnerships, including with the BRICS as well as on a South-South basis.


4 Peter Kiguta May 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm

The global agenda is changing very fast and ACP-EU partners need to take cognizance of this reality and re-look at the framework underlying their relationship. to start with, the relationship dates back to the colonial times. For a long time the relationship has been based mainly on aid with trade taking a secondary role in the development of ACP countries. in some cases EPAs have been viewed as a continuation of this framework. While the EU member countries are more homogenious in that they neighbour each other, the ACP countries are heterogeneous in terms of regional distribution, culture, resource endowments, population size and economic priorities. Therefore there is need to be conscious of these differences. A one model agreement cannot suit the various considerations. EU also needs to be seen to be flexible and alert to the new realities, especially on matters that touch on policy space. Requirements that imply ACP countries need to consult EU while making economic policy decisions arouses feelings of neo-colonialism. Of course EU has its interests but they should not be pushed in a manner that arouses suspicion. Given the many suitors around and encouraged by the hopefulness aroused by the success of BRICS development models, the ACP countries are now more awake to their potential and the possibilities that exist in well thought out trade arrangements. A badly negotiated trade arrangement is worse than absence of one since it may turn out to be an obstacle difficult to remove. The countries have also to be cautious not to undermine their interests at the WTO multilateral trade negotiations. Its obvious that developed countries are trying wherever possible getting from bilateral trade agreements what has proved difficult getting at the WTO negotiations.


5 ECDPM Editorial Team May 26, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Posted on behalf of Lingston Cumberbatch:

The Future of ACP-EU Relations for ECDPM

It is not easy to develop friendships be they at the personal level or between countries and regions. It takes time and trust, help of one or the other in time of need or stress. The ACP and the EU can be said to have developed friendships over four decades. There have, of course been several rocky moments during this period and changes to the relationship but that is normal. The problem for the ACP is that the post colonial relationship has been continuously changing as reflected in the growing self confidence among ACP members and the expansion of EU membership and wider aspirations and more diverse interests on the EU side as reflected in the successive Lome Conventions, the Cotonou Agreement, the EU system of preferences and the Economic Partnership Agreements.

Unfortunately, The ACP have not been moving adroitly enough in response to these changes on the EU side. The ACP continues to be mostly price takers rather than price makers. The developing relationships taking place between Africa and China, Brazil and India have not resulted from initiatives of African countries but from the CBI countries. And the ACP as a Group has had negligible part of this crucially important process.

It is not that recommendations have not been made in the past for a widening of ACP partnerships with other regions and partners (The first Summit of the ACP heads of State/Government in Libreville, Gabon, 6th November in1997 and the second Summit in the Dominican Republic in 1999).

New leadership in the Secretariat ACP and the current crop of Ambassadors is determinedly seeking to widen the range of the group’s contacts and relationships and although this may be be reactive to the initiatives of different Member States and the African Union and the changes in the European Commission as a result of the Lisbon treaty, it is commendable.

There is little doubt that the range and complexity of the EPA negotiations have given rise to antipathies, if that is not too strong a word, on both sides, even in the Caribbean where an EPA was signed. The protracted negotiations with African regions in particular is not helping although I do believe that African regions would like to conclude EPAs with the EU if some of the proposals currently on the table were modified.

My good friend Dieter Frisch has long said that the future of the ACP would depend on the ACP themselves and I agree with him. But the nature of the ACP/EU relations has changed inexorably and will doubtless change further, hopefully not in too detrimental a manner. Friendships, after all should be nurtured.


6 ECDPM Editorial Team May 26, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Posted on behalf of anonymous European Commission official:

I think a key question is whether there is still a role for an ACP configuration. Africa and the Africa Union are increasingly international actors but the north of Africa is not part of the ACP (and South Africa is a special ACP member). Reuniting Africa within the EU external and cooperation policies would make sense. At the same time, Caribbean and the Pacific are increasingly differentiated from Africa and indeed the EU has adopted specific strategic partnerships for those regions.

If (a big if) EPA take off in more regions, they could also invite to consider a new approach, not necessarily uncompatible with treating Africa as one. I for one, would explore a radical reshuffle of the current set up.


7 Chris Stevens May 26, 2011 at 9:01 pm

37 years (1975-2011) is a long time for a relationship in international relations, so the overarching question should perhaps be ‘why has the EU-ACP relationship lasted so long’ rather than ‘is it on its last legs’? In many ways, the writing has been on the wall for many years. The EU started to question the underlying philosophy of Lome in the 1980s and, by the 1990s, it was quite frustrated. What has happened since then was predictable (and predicted).

On the ACP side, the continuation of the relationship is as much (or more) a sign of weakness. Back in 1975, an observer could well have hoped that by the second decade of the 21st century the ACP states would have such diversified economies (and trading patterns to match) that Europe would just be one, no longer very important, partner. It is the economic failure of countries that are still locked into exporting much the same in 2011 as they did in 1975 (or 1960) that makes the EU trade relationship still of interest to the ACP (and makes aid, in which the EU is a relatively big player) a major source of foreign exchange. Even those states that now export much more to Asia are exporting mainly lightly processed raw materials - the new market gives the illusion of diversification, but as global markets for copper and the like are pretty integrated it is only an illusion.

Let’s turn to the six questions from this perspective:
Q1. How will the expanding global agenda affect ACP-EU relations? Does the current ACP-EU partnership provide a suitable political and institutional framework to address them?

The EU-ACP relationship is likely to continue to wither, being replaced by traditional aid donor -recipient relations with some countries, an important but essentially bilateral trade relationship with others. Only if the ACP forge a strong presence in global forums (such as the WTO) AND CAN DELIVER a unified position (that does not buckle under external pressure and competing internal interests) will it retain more than a formalistic existence.

Q2. What is the impact of emerging economies on current and future ACP-EU relations?

It accelerates and magnifies trends that have been apparent for well over a decade. As it moves into services rather than manufacturing Europe has less and less need for traditional ACP hard commodity exports - but greater demand for its people and skills - a trade relationship that has profoundly different effects. As it ceases to be a globally competitive exporter of many intermediate and capital goods, Europe becomes increasingly irrelevant as a source of imports for the ACP. (I would love to see an analysis of the likely actual impact of the EPA on imports - if EU exports have a 15% tariff removed, will they still be more expensive than those of India/China even after those states pay the tariff?)

Q3 What are the strengths and weaknesses of the ACP Group that may help to determine its future when the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires in 2020?

The principle strength is also the main weakness: size and breadth. The group ought to be able to punch above its weight in the international arena as it covers such a broad range. But in practice, the different interests inherent in such a large group tend to dominate.

Q4 What common interests could ensure a meaningful and effective ACP-EU partnership in the new global landscape?

This is the critical question. The answer has to be found in issues where the strength created by numerical size, common languages and shared traditions trump the problem that, for Europe, the ACP is a group of non-dynamic states while, for the ACP, Europe is a slow-growing partner with delusions about its influence and power. The UN looks a more likely forum for such issues to emerge than, say, the WTO where early hopes of ACP-EU joint action have been largely frustrated (and frustrating).

Q5. How can the ACP Group reinvent itself to develop a special niche and value added at the global level?

Do less, and choose better.


8 ECDPM Editorial Team May 26, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Posted on behalf of anonymous European Union Delegation official:

I think you have to make a distinction between the ACP as a group and the partnership as a concept.

Regarding the ACP as a group:

1: the expanding global agenda highlights the increasingly divergent interests within the ACP group which cannot hold together; it also makes it increasingly difficult to develop a coherent approach to specific countries in lign with the Paris agenda on aid effectiveness, and the principles of concentration, complementarity and divsion of labour: our geographic cooperation, supposedly increasingly based on strategic, sector-wide approaches, is increasingly interfered with by thematic programmes, often demand driven and outside the scope of our geographic interventions; a more flexible grouping of DCs would allow for continued national approaches combined with thematic approaches “à geographie variable” depending on the issues at stake.

2: shows that the partnership as such does not add value and has not helped the ACP group as group to integrate the world economy; emerging countries confirm the need for increased differentiation (blending; changing focus from poverty and governance towards commercial relations and targeted governance issues) on the basis of development indicators not on the basis of geographic and historical reasons.

3: no particular strengths beside the number of countries; and a lot of weaknesses: historic, geographic, developmental differences and conflicts of interest make it extremely difficult to hold the group together and push a certain agenda (except the “neutral” but not very original or interesting agenda for increased funding).

Some say this is the only guarantee for the Caribbean and Pacific regions not to be marginalised but I’m not convinced by this argument; their relative number in the UIN remains the same, their more than proportional (and excessive - considering their developmental level) share in the ACP is not justified on any particular ground? The ACP may even have encouraged the creation / fragmentation of some of those unviable micro-states which need to be absorbed in a broader entity

4: no common interests except EDF funding; no substantive reason why cooperation with those countries should be kept out of parliamentary control and out of the EU budget, the fact that geographic cooperation with Timor Leste and South Africa are already integrated in the budget confirms the absurdity of the present situation (and confirms that the partnership is not linked to the existence of an extrabudgetary EDF)

5. the ACP therefore does not need to reinvent itself and seek added-value at all prices, but accept that it is a relic of a historical (neo-colonial) past without any particular legitimacy which has past its time. the ACP STates should seek to integrate other, more coherent, geographic groups and other like-minded groups (LDCs, …) “à géometrie variable”.

Regarding the partnership:

the scope (policial / trade / devleopment dimension with some essential and fundamental elements) and the way the partnership is conceived remains a model for the future. however this substance can perfectly well be saveguarded outside the ACP group; on the contrary, outside the ACP group, more flexibility will be created to adapt to an evolving global agenda, working at national geographic level, but also at thematic level “à géométrie variable”.

Argument: how can we saveguard a fair share of ODA for the weakest and most vulnerable countries: EDF is not a guarantee (as shown by the negotiations about the 9th / 10 th EDF with a decreasing share of EU GNI or EU ODA spent through the EDF; the best guarantee for a fair share of EU ODA is results-oriented ODA, accountability (proving the merit of EU ODA in those countries) and the european parliament.

This implies protecting the partnership nature of our cooperation but differentiate allocations more strongly according to development needs (basically income per capita) and performance.

Can the partnership nature be preserved outside a broader framework such as the ACP framework? Why not? why not conceive a DCI which integrates all the key elements of the existing partnership, implying that whatever programme is signed with whatever country or group of countries (regional integration…) (inside or outside the present ACP group), both parties subcribe to this approach and are held accountable on that ground.


9 ECDPM Editorial Team May 26, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Posted on behalf of Eddie Wilson, Wilex-Samoa Enterprises, Samoa Assoc of Manufacturers and Exporters

The key to the future success of ACP-EU cooperation lies on the effectiveness of how trade,capacity building and technical assistance reach the Private and Public Sector bodies that operate as the engine of economic growth in ACP countries.

At the moment the red tape is so thick and the timeline for delivery makes most of the assistance counter productive.


10 Sheila Page May 26, 2011 at 11:42 pm

There is little to add to the excellent comments by Lingston Cumberbatch and Chris Stevens.

Q1 How the global agenda will affect ACP-EU? and Q2 Impact of emerging economies. The ACP countries have always had different interests, and this is becoming increasingly true, and now without any common trade interests in the EU. They are all diversifying away from the EU, but in different directions. There is possibly some case for continued cooperation of African members on some issues, although this would involve their relations with other countries, not just the EU, but the Caribbean and Pacific have completely different patterns of trade and interest. There may be a case for helping all ACP countries to form links with other areas, developed and developing, in order to diversify their markets and international relations.

Q3 Strengths and weaknesses. Difficult to think of any strengths, except Lingston’s point about old friendships. The main weakness remains what it has always been: a relationship based on mixing dependency (aid) with transactions which should be between equals (trade) weakens both aid and trade: the ACP countries are better at negotiating with anyone except the EU, and it is time to end the pretence that countries can mix dependency with partnership. The introduction to this discussion says that Cotonou ‘was widely viewed as offering an ambitions and innovative agenda’: this is nonsense. It was always a difficult compromise, but there were some institutional common interests. These are now finished.

Q4 Common interests: Only that both have an interest in forging mature relationships with other countries, and then they may be able to do so with each other.

Q5 How can ACP reinvent itself? It is probably better to have a clean break. One could imagine a more informal relationship. Perhaps one could imagine something like an annual meeting to compare notes? But it is probably better to end a relationship which has weakened both sides.

It is slightly surprising for the introduction to centre the debate on the role of ECDPM. It would be odd to keep a bad international relationship alive just to preserve a few researchers. But moving on will strengthen ECDPM as well: it has been limiting for it to have to take the ACP –EU relationship as the centre of its interests and not to be able to suggest there are alternatives.


11 ECDPM Editorial Team May 27, 2011 at 9:31 am

Posted on behalf of Mr. Klaus Rudischhauser, Director ACP General Affairs in European Commission DEVCO

If the ACP countries want a future they should stabilise their position by appearing not only as an ACP group to the EU but at global level as well. Then they should also think about a common policy for all of their external partners.

There is another question that should come up for the ACP countries: Shouldn’t they open the group? Because the composition of the group is mainly historical and if there is a good partnership in the group, then this is a good argument for other countries to join it, even if the group tends to be very close.

When speaking about the Cotonou Agreement, this partnership is not done and old, it is an active and a working one. This is why it can be used as a very good model. Compared to the partnership of the EU with Africa as a whole, Cotonou is different and more established; it is the most wide-ranging agreement of the EU.


12 Hildegard Hagemann May 27, 2011 at 9:34 am

Q 1+2The configuration of the G20 does not include one of the ACP states. EU however is in, represented additionally by four member states. This imbalance calls for a even stronger cooperation of the 79 ACP countries and not because they have historically tight relatinonship to EU but because of their own interests in the global agenda. Unfortunatley the stronghold of the special relations of EU and ACP countries never worked out because if EU and ACP countries had stood together, they form the majority in the UN- system. So they never really used their chance. Other driving forces from EU side, like the JAES etc seem so far too sophisticated to be really successful.

Q2+3 Naturally 79 countries will have different interests, but they also have common ones. they have to deal with impact of climate change, they have most of their population living in rural areas and working informally, their social security and tax systems are not far developped and their dependency on the world market has been forced on them. They partly build on stronger relationship to emerging powers but then they are split up and loose negotiation power.

Q4 The common interest could be the achievement of the CPA- the principles of partnership and participation, the mixture of trade and support and the joint institutions like the JPA and the progressive idea to get together across the continents ot because of econimc power but for a sense of responsibility for each other.

Q5 Consolidating and prioritising the common interest. Using the joint institutions and relations build up in the last 4 decades of common agreements to do so.


13 Marco Rensma May 27, 2011 at 2:39 pm

The multilateral talks between the EU and ACP about a possible common future are lagging behind today’s fastly changing global environment. This holds especially true in the case of international trade and foreign direct investments. Since 2000 the share of exports from the EU to Africa, for instance, only marginally increased from 2 to 3 percent. On the other hand, exports from Africa to the EU as a share in total African exports declined significantly from 50 percent in 2000 to 39 percent in 2009. The most important benificiary of these changing trade flows is Asia. The share of exports from Africa to Asia in total African exports increased from 17 percent to 22 percent resulting in an export value of more than $ 85 billion in 2009. Higher than the export value of Africa with the US and double the intra-regional trade flows. Asian countries like China, India and Turkey are stepping up their foreign direct investments and trade with Africa on a scale that for the moment is not matched by the EU. As private sector development is now at the heart of international cooperation, private companies from Europe are facing more and more difficulties in getting a foothold in Africa and the Carribean. Intensified competition from Asian companies, often backed by their national governments through large amounts of subsidies and fierce diplomacy, are leaving lesser room for European companies to find new markets. But this is not only true in the case of European companies. Also local companies in ACP-countries, of which the majority are familiy owned micro-companies with less than five employees, experience the effects of a disrupted (inter)national ‘level playing field’. With almost no access to formal capital, often outdated technologies and limited knowledge of market developments, they are having a very hard time to compete in the national let alone global market place. But not all is lost. Talks between the EU and ACP should be aimed at creating a common agenda for promoting the development of a ‘level playing field’ for the private sector on both sides of the ‘border’. These talks must surpass the outdated political disputes of choosing between a policy of import substitution or export- led growth. Today it is about creating a healthy business environment at the global and local level or in other words at the ‘glocal’-level. At the global level the EU and ACP should bound their forces together to put pressure on finishing the Doha-round by the end of this year and preventing the arise of new trade restrictions resulting from an imbalanced global economic recovery and rising food and commodity prices. At the local or national level governmental policies must be aimed at tackling corruption at all governmental levels, decreasing bureaucracy, improving the access to formal capital, investing in skills of employers and employees (life-long learning), improving the physical infrastructure (roads, railways, waterways, ICT, etc.), stimulating (in)formal networks between public and private organisations, and improving the collection and dissemination of data on developments of the economy. But above all, talks about a common agenda for the future can only be fruitful when there is a general recognition from both parties of equality and interdependence. No marriage will last when these two are absent.


14 Dr. Thomas LAWO, EADI May 27, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I am expressing my personal opinion on this set of questions and issues. When the Yaoundé-declaration was signed, it signalled a new and pioneering effort to overcome colonial dependencies and forge a partnership built on preferences for the ACP-group of former dependent territories. The Cotonou agreement was meant to reflect a matured partnership, but neither the highly fragmented interests on the heterogeneous ACP-side, nor the deplorable lack on the side of the EU to deliver on promises lead to the situation that is well described by other contributors to the debate.
The EPA’s for that matter can best be described as Economic Partnership Disagreements and the EU has still a long way to go in putting the Aid and Trade and Governance challenges together into a coherent framework of development-friendly cooperation mechanisms.
While being concerned that the EU is “punching below it’s weight”, we should be equally concerned to overcome a rather artificial distinction between ACP-countries and other LDC’s. Looking at the complexity of new aid and trade regimes of other regional powers and non-DAC donors, we may have to reflect on alternatives to the existing Cotonou agreement. Bold scenarios should be sketched and debated in order to provide food for thought to the opinion-formers and decision-makers. Like the MDG beyond 2015 debate, we need to critically take stock and prepare for Cotonou beyond 2020.
ECDPM and related think-tanks is well suited to provide an appropriate platform for this soul-searching endeavour. Solid analyses and rigorous debates are imperative to face the realities, including the divergent interests of the different actors. At the end of this process, concrete and realistic suggestions should come out of this discussion and the conference marking 25 years of professional contributions in this field.


15 ECDPM Editorial Team May 27, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Posted on behalf of Professor Roman Grynberg:

In 1994 after the publication of the EU’s White Paper on EU relations with the ACP,  the ECDPM held a dialogue on the future ACP-EU trade relationship in Maastricht. To anyone who bothered reading the White Paper  it was clear from the outset that the EU’s objective was not a dialogue on what would be the way forward for all but an exercise in how best to herd the ACP states towards the only objective the EU wanted which was an FTA ie the EPA. We were subjected to  a monologue from  the EU’s globalisers and free market ideologues and their well paid, nodding  academic consultants and were told that the world had changed since Lome and that the aid-natural resource access link in Lome was redundant. Now, they argued,  these resources would be provided by ‘the market’. In its historic context the meeting and the White Paper occurred at  the high water mark of free market liberalism with the Uruguay Round about to close and globalization was still seen amongst so many economists as the solution to all  economic issues. These sorts of trade relationships where you linked aid, trade and development like Lome were seen as  just passé. Lome was viewed, by the  young Eurocrats who designed the EPA, as a relic that the economic liberals wanted to replace with a modern FTA and thus colonialism and its odious past could be forgotten and the EU and the ACP could just move on to a bright new world where all parties to  a treaty were equal, no matter how poor and bedraggled one party was !(Hallelujah)  

At that meeting I publicly asked whether there may not ever be a time when the EU would need  agreements such as Lome that would tie  commodities into supply to  the EU as the Convention had done so well for 20 years. Of course the question was dismissed as  just so much retrograde nonsense.   Europe was surely safe- these resources could all be bought off ‘the market’ in any case? Fast forward almost 20 years  with China and India growing at  such a pace that they need to tie up all the  African resources they are able to get through aid , trade  and  investment arrangements the and EU, or at least the private sector,  may be feeling that the EPA has short changed them and there is cause for reconsideration. But now the EU has an EPA (at least with C )with an MFN clause  (or does it?) and prohibitions on export taxes (?) as the main protection of its equal EU access to ACP resources. How far these weak legal obligations will stack up against the power of Indian and Chinese aid, trade and investment is purely a rhetorical question.  After 20 years in an ideological stupor of free market economics the EU has found that its  rising Asian geo-political rivals are using a similar genre of arrangements as the EU used in 1975 (where aid, trade and investment were interlinked as in Lome) to guarantee access to African natural resources.

The Lome  trade arrangement has  been made redundant by the EPAs and  the good citizens of the EU can sleep safely in their beds knowing that their Eurocrats who designed the EPAs,  will guarantee their continued market access to natural resources that remains an important part  of EU prosperity. With the EPA coming into effect, trade which was the foundation of Cotonou is no longer there, and hence  there is no real need for an ACP arrangement post-2020,  just 6-8 EPA regions(if we ever get there). Maybe, just maybe those Euroaucrats who designed the EPAs,  and in effect threw out a 40  year EU investment in an important global trading and economic relationship were doing so just when the EU really needed it? After 2020 the ACP group will become part of post-colonial history. The C &P, due largely to their complete irrelevance to the commercial  interests of the EU, will surely be dealt with in the context of the EPAs, but the EU, like India and China will continue to need access to Africa’s vast resources. The EPA is so weak, fragile and ill-conceived  in Africa that other rising powers will be able to have much better access than the EU to Africa’s resources. It would be nice to say that there is time to reconsider but those who designed this  atrocious policy are still there in DG Dev, Trade and Aidco and these people will not shift easily. They built their careers on EPA(how sad)! Eventually the EU private sector will force the Commission to reconsider 20 years of such ill-conceived policy making towards trade with Africa. There may be no ACP after 2020 but the ‘A’ is too important to Europe’s prosperity and something more coherent and intelligent than the EPA will replace it.    

If we continue with EPAs, then the EU if it is really polite to the Chinese and Indians, who have cleverly  captured so much of Africa’s natural resources, they  will let ‘the market’ sell  the EU whatever resources they don’t need.  There may even a tiny bit left over for Africa’s own development but really that’s not likely!

These are the views of Professor Roman Grynberg and do not reflect the views of any institution. ‘

Professor  Roman Grynberg
Senior Research Fellow
Botswana Institute for
Development Policy Analysis


16 ECDPM Editorial Team May 27, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Posted on behalf of Ola Bello, FRIDE:

The future of ACP-EU Agreement has rightly provoked much soul-searching in EU development policy discourses over the last few months. Given that the current agreement expires in 2020, the debate is surprisingly gathering steam a lot earlier than many anticipated.

With an eye firmly on the many other excellent contributions to this debate, one has to also look at ongoing EU policy processes – the EPA deadlock and current discussion of the next EU financial perspective, to mention a few – and conclude that European approaches themselves seem unhelpfully oriented away from the value foundations of the ACP-EU agreement. Rather than focusing on the big strategic questions facing future development cooperation - something the EU Development Commissioner himself already acknowledged with the series of public consultations launched late 2010 - much European discussions of the ACP-EU’s future prioritise design over function. This is occurring in two ways.

First, preoccupation with institutional design (including proposal for “budgetising” the EDF and on which arm of the EU manages Strategic Partnership Instruments being proposed to supplement or substitute existing DCI and ICI frameworks) takes firm precedence over discussion of the inherent strategic value of the ACP-EU framework to both parties. What justifies the continuing existence of the agreement beyond 2020 and whether and how it can be made more viable beyond its expiry has so far remained a secondary deliberation. Many ACP states and senior officials already fret about what’s perceived as the EU’s unclear response to call for European reaffirmation of the salience of the ACP framework and existence of the political will to jointly update and strengthen it.

Second, the unique selling point of the ACP-EU framework was always in its infusion of mainstream development cooperation concerns with political dialogue based on values, one characteristic that sets it apart from similar existing agreements, or even any prospective ones to be concluded between the developing ACP group and emerging partners. Both the EU and ACP states have themselves invested little practical effort in clarifying the unique value of their partnership in a transformed development context, what value-added and attractions it may or may not retain in their respective assessments, and how signatories intend to reset engagements for better, clearer “win-win” outcomes. In four words, “what remains in it” for both sides? At the moment, it’s a debate that can no longer be dodged, given especially that almost every proposal on institutional and procedural re-tweak of EU development cooperation (including the newly suggested new strategic partnerships) implicitly return to the uncomfortable question of the ACP-EU framework’s future, its very rationale and longer term sustainability”.


17 Sandra S. Pierantozzi May 30, 2011 at 1:37 am

I think that perhaps the ACP-EU relationship, more likely the Cotonou Agreement has the proper objectives, but going at it in a misguided way. To me, it’s a mistake to group so many countries from several very different and distant regions of the world. Within each region are so many countries, peoples, cultures, and so on with just as varied socio-economic needs. I agree that trade, not aid, is the best way to develop these countries to a hoped for self sufficient level of development. However, applying the same guidelines and levels of assistance, financial and in kind, to resource rich African countries and resource limited small island nations in the Pacific and the Caribbean may be more destructive than helpful.

I agree that the agreement has been in existence for far too long, but what great gains has it achieved? The agreement should be continued, but taking different approaches to the individual regions, each approach designed to specifically meet the requirements of each region to finally gain meaningful entry into the global economy.

Sandra S. Pierantozzi
(former) Vice President/Minister of State
Republic of Palau
3rd ACP-EU Summit, Nadi, Fiji


18 Edmund Paul Kalekyezi May 30, 2011 at 5:07 pm

We should be frank. EU’s expanding global agenda has nothing to do with the ACP-EU relations apart from further marginalising the ACP group while exposing them to more exploitation. The expanding global agenda is meant to protect and enhance EU interests without necessarily promoting the ACP-EU relations where interests in other regions are more important. As a consequence the new global agenda can only drive the last nail into the coffin of an already hopeless relationship that has not helped the ACP group to attain any meaningful development. Although there exist an institutional framework to advance the EU-ACP relationship, we must agree that the ACP countries have failed to identify what they need for the past so many years, and the situation is made worse under the new global agenda.
We see the emerging economies becoming more active in the ACP countries by way of exploiting the available resources with impunity. Whereas the ACP group should have forged strategic relations with these emerging economies, this does not seem to be the case. ACP countries have continued to export commodities and unprocessed raw materials to the emerging economies and importing poor quality products, like it has always been with the EU. The effect is that the emerging economies are competing with the EU for both resources and markets and at the end of the day it is the ACP countries that remain at the losing end. They should review the relations with all their trading partners and determine the development path they want to take….even if this means engaging the emerging economies and abandoning the EU. The earlier, the ACP group realises that development can never be achieved through aid and preferences, the better!!
The ACP group could assert themselves on the international arena basing on their resources (natural and human), the historical links with the EU as well as their proximity to the emeging economies. They remain weak because they are easily decieved and divided by their rich and influential partners….if the ACP group were to put up a united front not based on preferences, they would achieve alot.
The ACP have not benefited from the all the agreement that led to the Cotonuo Agreement and they will also not benefit from the EPAs, unless they forge new meaningful partnerships….and by the way on commercial terms and not preferences. EU only gives preferences where the EU economies will benefit and no necessarily where ACP countries will see sustainable development. The aid given is normally to support the EU economies to access resources or markets in the ACP and is not meant to develop the ACP economies per se.


19 Edwin Laurent May 30, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Let me complement the ECPDM for launching this debate that is already ready making most helpful suggestions and providing valuable guidance to the ACP. I agree with much that has been said but take a step back to view the relationship in broader historical and global perspective. The Lomé system can in a sense be viewed as an adaptation of Europe’s trade/economic engagement with the countries of the ACP to take account of the expanding Common Market (EEC) and the ending of colonialism. In its day it was recognised as innovative and sensitive to the peculiar economic challenges and constraints faced by the participating ACPs that precluded the successful application of orthodox remedies for economic development.
Although many of these challenges persist, the world has moved on considerably since the early 1970s and the factors that originally led to Lomé, seem no longer as compelling and to some even irrelevant. The changes since then have not only been in the rest of the world but most especially within Europe itself. The Union has expanded eastwards to encompass many new members that do not have the historical connection with the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. This new Europe does not have a similar sensitivity to the particular economic impediments of the ACP. Consequently it can seem ambivalent about engaging with the ACP on a basis that is fundamentally different from that with other developing countries.
Just as 40 years ago changing circumstances resulted in a new relationship between Europe and ACP countries, today’s realities will again force change. This is inevitable, but the question is whose interests will shape the structure of the transformed relationships and further, will the ACP Group simply be responding to the initiatives and proposals initiated by Europe or other players or indeed by circumstances? Alternatively will the ACP be seeking from the outset to define the nature and structure of the relationships so that its members could be in the most advantageous position for pursuing their own best interests in the new global paradigm? Should the ACP follow the latter course, there is a lot that it will have to do.

The starting point for the ACP should not be consideration of the nature of the relationship with the EU or any other international partner or group but instead a thorough and hard-nosed assessment of the value of working together. Chris Stevens is right that the ACP ought to “punch above their weight”; but it is the converse that is generally the case. Given their numerical strength one of the most evident but under-utilised devices for exerting influence is leveraging their collective political power. I am convinced that mutual support, political cooperation and coordinated action, can enhance the influence of members and compensate for lack of individual economic power; but ACP countries must be convinced that collaboration and solidarity will deliver results that are superior to those from exclusively national or sub-regional approaches. Once the merit of the joint approach is recognised, specific questions need to be addressed including the circumstances in which solidarity and group action can be helpful; identifying the parties with which the ACP group should engage collectively; and how precisely mutual support and joint action should be managed to yield positive outcomes for the ACP.

Only after this internal exercise has been undertaken, the value of solidarity appreciated and an internally coherent system for collaboration been achieved can the ACP successfully proceed to the next step of redefining its engagement with Europe and other political and economic partners. But adequate preparation and organisation would enable it, from the very outset, to actually be central to the process of conceiving and building the structures for its own engagement with Europe and the rest of the world. An involvement that is essential if the structures are to be able to permit maximum benefit for the ACP and serve their interests in the manner that they themselves define them. The ACP can be helped by outsiders but the task is for the Group itself.


20 ECDPM Editorial Team May 31, 2011 at 9:04 am

Posted on behalf of Judith Sargentini, MEP:

The ACP countries and Europe are struggling with their partnership. The political dialogue that comes with the Cotonou agreement is unique. ACP countries and the European Union have put down in a treaty that they will talk honest politics with each other. But how honest is it? In spring 2010 the ministers from both sides did not manage to get an agreement on migration. The European side dictated the mainly African side ‘keep your people at home’ and the other side hit back with homophobic remarks, probably thinking ‘let’s hit these Europeans where it hurts’. The atmosphere is not good, and that does not help to create, what I would see as my main point; fair trade:

First of all the partnership needs a clear view on trade. At the moment, international trade agreements are mainly serving the interest of western nations and their industries The negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreements with ACP countries show that developing countries are not at all attracted to the proposals of the European Union. What is a partnership if one of the partners still tries to force open the local market of the other to be able to sell its own products?

And that brings me to the second issue. The European Parliament should take the lead to change the EU attitude towards the ACP by respecting the Lisbon Treaty. Since that treaty got in force Policy coherence for development has become a legally binding principal for the EU. Article 208 of the Lisbon Treaty, says that nothing the EU does in foreign affairs should clash with its main aim in development of sustainable poverty eradication. Unfair trading goes against our own treaty

Third, the EU should think of a strategy in order to deal with the emerging economies. The presence of China in Africa is undeniable, especially with reference to the race for raw materials from the ACP. China builds roads, football stadiums and dams in exchange for long term mining concessions. But this is not giving the local citizens work, nor sustainable growth. In the short term the Chinese offer looks tempting to a government not capable of managing its own infrastructure. In the long term they will probably find out that they sold their wealth on the cheap. The EU should offer something different, something better, then the Chinese. Now the European Raw Materials Strategy is mainly there to ensure markets for European products and to get access to the ACP in order to keep our industries going.

Finally let’s work together as parliaments and get the negotiations on the country strategy papers out in the open. We members of the EP have been demanding a say on our side for years. I urge the parliaments of the ACP countries to demand a say in the country strategy papers that their governments sign with the European Commission. We will never have honest political dialogue when the parliaments are not allowed to say what the governments promise each other


21 ECDPM Editorial Team May 31, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Posted on behalf of Jürgen Hoffmann, Special Trade Advisor, Agricultural Trade Forum, Windhoek:

I think the relationship between the ACP and the EU are guided by two principles that are probably not addressed by anybody else:

Preference erosion. It is quite clear that with the new CAP provisions and the new import strategy by the EC the matter of preference erosion has drawn little or no comments. Especially with agricultural products this is a real threat. That may be typical for agricultural commodities exporting countries, such as Namibia. WE see a real problem with the further preference erosion especially with our meat and fish exports. The meat exports can be up to a certain account be accommodated by the export to the final consumer and not to any trader any longer, targeting niche markets for our small contingent of boneless beef exports.

But in the end, the EU is not the only market for pre - packed meat to an retail business, all high income countries in te world are target markets and especially large developing countries are targeted.

Also the fish exports, that are dominated by one EU country only , can be diversified as the fishery sector more and more starts to develop user friendly retail packages which can be sold anywhere in the world and it is not anymore reliant on the EU market.

The third ag. commodity are table grapes. In this case the market to the EU has shifted considerably away from the EU market already , the EU. is importing less than 50 % of the total crop,and Namibian fresh table grapes are found as far away as Moscow of Vladivostok.

The importance of the EU market for agr. Products is getting smaller and smaller and this will obviously also influence the relationship with the EC.

The other concern is a purely Namibian one and it is supply side constraints>

The traditional agr. Products are beef, fishery products and table grapes. The export orientated commodities, especially the production base for beef and also for other meats as lamb and goat meat is getting smaller and smaller and where there is exportable quantities the official and private standards making it much more expensive to export to the EU.

With the fish sector a shrinking of resources and the high subsidies the EU is awarding their own fishery sector make the application of fish exports to the EU more and more difficult, also te Rules of Origin for export to the EU protects only their own fish sector.

All this taken together, the importance of the EU is diminishing for an small ACP country like Namibia. Therefore, the need to accommodate the EU in its often outrageous requests for the same conditions in the agr. Sector than at the developed home countries ( the give longer times and preferences to the newly acceded member states) is a bit difficult to explain to the Namibian producers.

With the other commodities, that make up anyhow the bunch of exports I am not very conversant but they are governed not by any restrictions.

While the EU is becoming a lesser trade partner, development actions by the EU will also diminish. Especially the aid to the regional partners are getting less and less and are often packed in the concept of regional EDF’s which in many cases do not release the requested contribution as is clearly shown by regional aid to the SADC EPA secretariat, which has not given any support by the EC since end of last year, how can we operate without the aid to such an important institution?

In future regional support packages should be targeted and without any fuss given to institutions that promote regional integration such as the SADC _ EPA secretariat. How can the EU withhold any funds when the functioning of these institutions is in their own interest? A new and more pragmatic thinking is urgently required from the EC institutions if they want to get any results other than excuses.

The ACP – EU relations should become more pragmatic and not hindered by the burocratic exercises of a buch of Brussels based officials.


22 ECDPM Editorial Team May 31, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Please see the two reports below which include information on the European Commission’s and European External Action Service’s thinking on the future of ACP-EU relations:

The future of Africa-EU Political Dialogue

Advance copy of EC DEVCO Organigramme revealed


23 ECDPM Editorial Team June 2, 2011 at 11:43 am

Posted on behalf of Louis Michel, Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly:

La relation Europe-ACP a grandi et s’est approfondie parallèlement à la construction européenne. L’accord de Cotonou est ainsi un accord très complet, qui ne traite pas que des questions de développement mais vise à utiliser le développement pour faire des pays ACP des acteurs à part entière sur la scène internationale. A ce titre, je le considère particulièrement adapté au nouvel agenda global.

L’ancienneté, l’intensité et la sincérité de nos relations nous permettent de travailler ensemble pour relever les défis actuels. Je pense à la réforme de la gouvernance économique mondiale: l’UE a plaidé et obtenu une meilleure représentation des pays en développement dans les institutions financières internationales. Je pense au changement climatique: l’alliance entre les ACP et l’UE pousse le reste de la communauté internationale à conclure des accords ambitieux. Ce ne sont que quelques exemples. Il y a certes encore beaucoup à faire mais notre partenariat reste un instrument pertinent face aux enjeux actuels.

Le dialogue politique est à la base de nos relations. Nous travaillons - et devons le faire plus et mieux - sur nos valeurs communes. Le printemps arabe montre bien, pour ceux qui ne seraient pas encore convaincus, que la liberté, la démocratie et les droits de l’homme ne sont pas des aspirations et valeurs occidentales. Nos citoyens les partagent tous. Et c’est sur cette conviction que notre relation se fonde.

Je ne vois pas les pays émergents comme une concurrence mais plutôt comme une saine émulation dans nos relations avec les pays ACP. Ils apportent un savoir-faire en termes de développement qui est très utile. Ils nous poussent certainement à nous remettre en question de temps en temps, et c’est très positif.

Cependant nous ne devons pas rabaisser le niveau de notre dialogue politique parce que les autres ne posent pas de questions! Je suis contre les conditionnalités - tout le monde le sait - mais un dialogue franc et sincère aide aussi à renforcer le respect mutuel et à construire la confiance. Autre différence avec la plupart des bailleurs des économies émergentes, notre aide est faite sous forme de dons, pas de prêts. Et l’UE utilise l’outil qui traduit la confiance et l’égalité entre partenaires: c’est l’aide budgétaire. Je me bats pour que nous continuions à utiliser cet instrument, qui va de pair avec le dialogue politique, qui donne une vraie spécificité, et même un avantage comparatif. Avec les bailleurs dits émergents, nous devons aussi, bien entendu, entamer un dialogue et une coopération trilatéraux, comme nous l’avons fait entre l’UE, la Chine et l’Afrique.

S’il veut survivre, le groupe ACP doit se renforcer autour de ce qui fait son unité et utiliser à bon escient son poids dans les négociations internationales: dans un monde multipolaire, 78 pays représentent une très importante minorité de blocage. Quant à leur relation avec l’UE après 2020, il revient aux ACP eux-mêmes de choisir le format et de dire s’ils ont envie de demeurer en tant que groupe ou s’ils préfèrent une approche régionale. Quel que soit leur choix, l’UE devra être là pour les soutenir et conserver cette relation privilégiée.


24 ECDPM Editorial Team June 2, 2011 at 11:45 am

Posted on behalf of Ska Keller, MEP:

1. How will the expanding global agenda affect ACP-EU relations? Does the current ACP-EU partnership provide a suitable political and institutional framework to address them?

The current ACP-EU relations with its institutionalized partnership provide a very good example on how cooperation between different parts of the world can work. However, this current geographical grouping does not reflect reality anymore. All countries are different have to be approached in a differentiated way. Caribbean states might have different needs than African states for example. I think the most important task for the future is to be open for a new thinking and a new geographical approach if needed while keeping the partnership approach and other good achievements of the ACP-EU relations.

2. What is the impact of emerging economies on current and future ACP-EU relations?

I can only warn from a hysteric debate about China being engaged in Africa and being a competitor to Europe. I do find south-south cooperation crucial, also in the light of the experience the emerging donors have in fighting poverty in their own country. Our task is now to engage emerging economies in the development institutions and international commitments like the Paris agenda.

3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the ACP Group that may help to determine its future when the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires in 2020?

The strengths of the ACP group are their long experience in dealing with the EU and their experience with the special partnership arrangements.

Potential weaknesses may be the lack of coordination and will to speak with one voice vis-à-vis the EU, the sometimes non-committed parliamentarians and governments and that the resolutions of the ACP JPC are non-binding.

4. What common interests could ensure a meaningful and effective ACP-EU partnership in the new global landscape?

The EU and ACP have lots of common interests to bring forward on the global agenda, like the eradication of poverty, sustainable development, the preservation of public goods etc. These are aims that can only be achieved together.

However, these interests sometimes lack commitment. The EU is not often serious about these goals when they collide for example with its business interests. Thus, the EU has much more to do when it wants to implement policy coherence for development. Also the ACP governments have to be more serious when it comes to the eradication of poverty in their countries.

5. How can the ACP Group reinvent itself to develop a special niche and value added at the global level?

As mentioned above, the EU-ACP relations can serve as an example for other regions in the world. It is about identifying the positive things, the things that do work and expand these to other regions in the world. But that does not necessarily mean that the ACP group as such is carved in stone. It is not about keeping structures for the sake of themselves but for realizing goals like the eradication of poverty and we have to openly think about it how to best get there.


25 Carolyn Ngiraidis, Board of Director, Palau Chamber of Commerce, Republic of Palau June 3, 2011 at 9:54 am

While I have very little knowledge of ACP-EU relationship & partnership, I do like to offer my comments. It appears there is a need to address global agenda at a regional level. The pacific region is recognized internationally as Asia Pacific and Oceania. Within Oceania, we have the North Pacific and South Pacific countries, all with different economic & trade challenges. I also understand in 2006 EU established two sub regional CDE offices in the Pacific region, one in Samoa to cover the Polynesian countries and one in Port Villa, Vanuatu to cover the Melanesian & Micronesian regions. Sometime in January of this year, there was talks of possibility opening up a CDE office in the Micronesian region. It makes more sense in that it allows the CDE office to focus on common challenges in our region, identification of strengths that can be shared and weaknesses that can be tackled in a more efficient approach by adopting policies from the neighboring countries. More and more emphasis is placed on public/private partnership in addressing economic/trade/investment opportunities in the global arena, something to think about moving forward.


26 ECDPM Editorial Team June 5, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Posted on behalf of Michael Wood, former head of the European Parliament’s Development Committee Secretariat:

The ACP Group is neither cohesive, or logical - Caribbean may have some interest in association with Sub-Saharan Africa, as alternative to the Americas, but converse is hardly the case. Pacific may even have some interest in partnership with Africa and perhaps the Caribbean, for similar reasons - alternative to Australia and NZ, but ditto for converse.

EU’s interest and involvement in the partnership is waning, but nevertheless still exists. Might removal of ACP as a group lead to a further shrinkage of interest in developing countries by EU members?

North-South partnership important, at parliamentary as well as general political level. But does this translate into an improvement of living standards, reduction in poverty, greater human happiness? To some extent, but not all that much. Is it worth preserving this grouping, or would energies and cash better be spent on developing others, existing or new?

The Joint Parliamentary Assembly is long established and provides useful experience for MPs on both sides. For many it is a perk, an opportunity to travel, even to do business. But others go on to become presidents, prime ministers or other high political leaders. Around the JPA, EU political groups help their ACP comrades to build political parties. A practice of parliamentary scrutiny is being developed, particularly on budgetary matters, and also on trade. But how far is it carried back to national parliaments?

But then again, where else does this happen at all?

And how far do JPA members engage with one another outside meetings with interpretation? The English speakers may get together, the French speakers are elsewhere. Does not the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association provide the same or better, or even the IPU?

Keep the group, keep the partnership? Development in several senses will/would be required. Is Benjamin Franklin’s remark applicable: We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately?


27 ECDPM Editorial Team June 6, 2011 at 3:14 pm

The ACP Council meeting in Brussels from 26-30 May received a report from the ACP Committee of Ambassadors Working Group on the Future Persectives of the ACP Group. Neither the report nor an indication of the debate has not yet been posted on the ACP’s website, but several press reports provide some news. We post these below. The ACP Council was followed by a Joint Council meeting with the EU. For more on the joint meeting, see ECDPM’s news database at:

Brief Statement for the President of Council to the Press after the 93rd Session of the ACP Council of Ministers. 28 May 2011.

Welcome statement by ACP Secretary General to ACP Council of Ministers. 27 May 2011.

EPAs, fighting poverty and future of the ACP Group on top of ACP Council of Ministers. ACP Secretariat. 27 May 2011.

ACP Summit in 2014 to give political guidance on future of ACP. PACNEWS. 29 May 2011.
A special summit of Leaders from the ACP nations will be convened in 2014 to give political guidance on the future of the group, at the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020 according to the special Working Group, comprising Brussels based Ambassadors tasked to find a way forward for the ACP. For the next two years, a consultant will be engaged to conduct an in-depth study on the various options and scenarios for the transformation of the ACP Group while managing change and continuity. The study will examine the relevance of the ACP in the new and evolving global environment and review its privileged relations and co-operation with the EU, taking account of the Second Revised Cotonou Partnership Agreement, the Economic Partnership Agreement, the Lisbon Treaty as well as relations with other development partners. A final decision will be made on the basis of the findings of the study, on-line consultations with all stakeholders and hearings from a selected group of persons.

ACP considers new direction after expiry of Cotonou Agreement in 2020. PACNEWS. 28 May 2011.
The future existence of the 79-member African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) grouping is now being mapped out by the group’s Council of Ministers in preparation for the coming to an end of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020. The expiry of the 20 year old Agreement with the European Union (EU) in nine years time, has forced the Brussels based Secretariat to convene a Working Group to explore future directions for the ACP group. The Secretary General, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas did not mince his words in his opening address of the ACP Council of Ministers Meeting where he challenged representatives of 79 nations to ‘think the unthinkable.’

If you attended the meeting, we’d welcome your comments.


28 ECDPM Editorial Team June 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm

In an article entitled “Why the EU’s aid effort must escape the budgetary axe” (, Simon Maxwell writes:

“The EU has pioneered structures of mutual accountability through successive Lome Conventions and now the Cotonou Agreement. It is time
to transfer these across to the main aid programme, say by introducing an arbitration procedure, and by introducing oversight by a joint Council of Ministers and a joint Parliamentary Assembly.”


29 Ismael Noo June 7, 2011 at 11:06 am

There is need to include Labour issues more particularly ratification of ILO conventions and recommendations. Other major issues are the social protection floor, migrant workers and their right to form, join and participate in the trade union activities.


30 ECDPM Editorial Team June 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Posted on behalf of South African Ambassador to the European Union, HE Mr. Anil Sooklal:

The ACP countries are very concerned about their future relationship with the EU because there is no clarity on what will happen to this after the 2020 expiry of the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement. The EU’s Lisbon Treaty is silent on this matter and the new structures within the EU’s External Action Service and the European Commission’s DEVCO directorate signal that the ACP does not receive the same attention from the side of Europe as it has in the past. The EU, however, insists that the ACP states will stay a privileged partner. The ACP, though, are seeking stronger assurances. The ACP is also trying to make the group more relevant, considering how to strengthen its relations with its new partners for example.


31 ECDPM Editorial Team June 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Posted on behalf of Dieter Frisch, Former Director General for Development at the European Commission:

Lome/Cotonou- an evolving process:

The question of the raison d’être of the ACP-Group, which comes up again today, was there right from the outset: on the European side many of us were indeed surprised when in 1973 six Caribbean and three Pacific countries decided to join forces with the Africans. While they had some problems in common with Africa (e.g. sugar), their main motivation was political, being part of an important group of 46 negotiators led by Nigeria - member of the then just founded OPEC - and sharing its bargaining power.

The creation of the ACP Group – consolidated by the 1975 Georgetown Agreement - though fostered by the challenge of negotiating with Europe, was strictly an ACP initiative. This is why I take the view that, when it comes to discuss the future of the group, the question must be addressed first and foremost to the ACP themselves.

But let us have a quick look into the dynamics of the ACP-EU relationship! Since the first Lome Convention (1975), this relationship has undergone considerable changes. But none of the successive conventions can be seen as a break with the past (whatever politicians might sometimes be tempted to say!). It was always an evolving process. Each negotiation – Lome II, III. IV/1, IV/2 - took account of new developments in the EU - enlargements, for example - in the ACP States - economic and political liberalization, concern for better management of scarce resources - and on the international scene - debt reduction, for instance.

It is correct that Lome I started as an aid and trade agreement, though with some very innovative features like STABEX. But Lome gradually acquired a more political dimension: whereas there was nothing about human rights in Lome I and II, Lome III (1985) included a first prudent wording on this subject; Lome IV contained a considered firm human rights clause and Lome IV/2 (1995), as an evident result of the Maastricht Treaty, added to the pre-existing human rights clause an explicit reference to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and the sound management of resources (good governance).

It is therefore not correct to present the Cotonou agreement (2000) as a kind of break going “ beyond the narrow trade and aid focus that was the hallmark of earlier ACP-EU treaties”. Cotonou was not more and not less than another serious overhaul of the Lome policy to take account of the changes that had taken place within the EU, among our ACP partners and in the international context.

By the way: “Cotonou” would have certainly been “Lome V” if Togolese President Eyadema had not refused to open up his country to pluralism and free political debate. His stubbornness obliged partners to sign the agreement in neighbouring Benin.

If I tell this story of an evolving ACP-EU relationship, it is to show its capacity of change, adaption and innovation and, “indeed” its pioneering role in EU development cooperation policy. And that makes me confident that partners will be able and imaginative enough to keep this relationship relevant and substantive beyond 2020.

Anyway, there is no use predicting the end of a privileged relationship - beware of self-fulfilling prophecies! - as long as no other and better - and politically feasible - model has been drawn up. It is to this reflection that the Maastricht seminar should contribute.


32 ECDPM Editorial Team June 14, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Posted on behalf of John Kotsopoulos, External Expert on EU-Africa Relations for the European Policy Centre (writing in his own personal capacity).

The ACP was launched in Georgetown in 1975 with an emphatic bang, empowered by both a commodities boom and the sense that the developing world was on an inexorably ascendant path. Since then its fortunes have mostly corresponded with the geo-political and economic situation of the times. Thus by the late 1980s, after more than a decade of economic stagnation and an end to the Cold War, the ACP found its stature decidedly weakened. In many ways the repercussions from that era are still felt today. The relationship with the EU has become more emphatically that of a donor and a recipient — a far cry from the partnership of equals so loudly touted at the initial establishment of the Lomé Convention.

Does the current ACP-EU partnership provide a suitable political and institutional framework to address the ever expanding global agenda? Any answer must transcend diplomatic niceties. For one, it is difficult to underestimate just how emphatically disadvantaged the ACP is relative to the EU. Not only is it comprised of countries from hugely disparate regions – reflecting more the geographic broadness of the EU’s colonial past rather than any sort of “natural” alignment of developing countries — it is undermined by a tiny institutional make-up, including a lack of financial and human resources. Second, and perhaps even more importantly, the ACP is no longer alone as the key link between the EU and other developing regions. The EU now has significant agreements in place with more comprehensive institutions like the African Union and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

This does not necessarily imply the wholesale demise of the ACP. After all, the Cotonou Agreement remains in place until 2020 and is still the chief channel through which the EU provides development funding. And Cotonou, for better or for worse, is the launching point for the ongoing Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations. Moreover, Cotonou provides certain political clauses (e.g. articles 8 and 96) that have important applicability, such as in the 2009 consultations with Niger on the political upheavals there.

Ultimately, and as in any partnership, the future lies with both parties. For the ACP there is a real urgency to delineate a path for the future or else risk becoming completely marginalised with the expiry of Cotonou, or even sooner by the conclusion of region-specific EPAs. What can be done? For one, the relationship between the ACP and the AU must be better clarified. Could the ACP play a future role as a slimmed down “niche” entity, perhaps without the Caribbean and Pacific members (who are already working on separate EPAs and hence likely to become further detached from the larger whole), and functioning as a trade arm of the AU? The immediate consolidation of physical and human resources could be beneficial for both sides and ultimately increase Africa’s stature vis-à-vis the EU, not to mention the WTO in Geneva, where the ACP’s other offices are based. This is not such a far fetched proposition considering the coordination of AU and ACP positions in the past, for instance at the WTO Ministerial in Cancun some years ago.

The EU must also clarify what it wants from its relationship with the ACP. While the EU has embarked in recent years on highly ambitious regional partnership agreements — the highlight being the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) – it continues to draw on funds from the Cotonou framework to support them. The absence of an alternative pan-African instrument, for instance, reinforces a sense that the EU, despite all the diplomatic politesse, still dictates the terms of its relations with the developing world in the way that it wishes, be they with the ACP or AU. EU signals can also be inconsistent, a result of the different initiatives run by the trade and development directorates and now further complicated (at least in the short term) by the Lisbon Treaty and the introduction of the European External Action Service. Although it is a challenge that has dogged the ACP-EU relationship since its inception, contrasting signals must mitigated if the ACP is to know where it stands and have a future as a consequential partner.

So does the ACP-EU relationship have what it takes to survive? The answer is that the status quo is not good enough and that rather dramatic changes will have to occur if the relationship is not to be subsumed by the EU’s other partnerships in the developing world. The discussions being held under the good offices of the ECDPM should help further this most urgent of debates.


33 ECDPM Editorial Team June 15, 2011 at 10:27 am

Posted on behalf of Dieter Frisch, Former Director General for Development at the European Commission:

To follow up my last week’s historical overview, here are a few suggestions for the future:

1- The ACP must decide whether they want to stay together. If this is the case, they must make it clearly known at the highest political level, in particular to the EU (it seems to me unlikely that the Group could survive without a strong link with the EU).

2- The ACP should request focal points and knowledgeable interlocutors on ACP matters in the (restructured) EU institutions, in particular with the Commission (DG DEVCO) and in the diplomatic service EEAS.

3. While maintaining the Group mainly for reasons of bargaining power and overall consistency, operational cooperation should be more and more focused on sub-regions (the EPA regions). This regionalization should not be seen as a dismantling of the Group, but on the contrary, as a consolidation of its regional building blocks.

4. Dealing with the whole of sub-Saharan Africa in such a regionalized manner is by no means an obstacle to a “whole-of-Africa” approach. If the countries of North Africa succeeded in constituting a regional grouping, they would represent another building block. Unfortunately, this seems to be a far cry from North African reality. Anyway, Mediterranean Africa looks more to the North than to the South.

5. The EPA approach still makes sense provided 1) it remains true to its objective of contributing to the building of regional structures and 2) it is applied in a more flexible and asymmetrical way, in terms of product coverage and time horizon. Food security should receive the necessary attention and protection.

6. As much as possible, cooperation activities should move from the national to the regional level. This would be a significant change. Are ACP countries ready to move from regional rhetoric to regional reality?

7. For each region the appropriate “cooperation mix”- drawing on all available instruments, including trade, aid, private investment …. - would have to be determined in close dialogue between the EU and duly mandated regional negotiators.

8. The financial support will have to take account of increasing European budget constraints and should therefore use differentiated financing modalities, including loans, blending, private investments and, of course, grants for the most in need. The allocation of resources should be targeted more sharply to the needs and the development performance of countries/regions.

9. While the political dimension of the ACP-EU relationship should continue to grow, the EU should accompany-not impose! - democratic reform processesin ACP countries through support to civil society, free press, political pluralism in order to allow democracy to grow from within instead of being determined by agreed benchmarks.

10. The emphasis on the political nature of the partnership should however not lead to divert scarce resources from their development objectives to short term needs of CFSP (from crisis prevention to crisis management). The EU needs a real CFSP Budget to cope with purely political or security issues (e.g. African Peace Facility).

11. While cooperation with ACP countries should continue to aim at their economic and social development, the EU should not hesitate to openly recognize that it pursues also own interests within this relationship (access to raw materials, control of illegal immigration.. etc). Cooperation must not be seen as a one-way street.

12. Dialogue and cooperation, while not losing the focus on concrete high priority issues (food security, education, health, energy…) should be extended to any global issue of common interest.


34 Felix Maonera June 18, 2011 at 10:44 am

And in Dieter Frisch’s contribution lies the answer - lets all go back where we came from; our regions! As a parting gift, let the EU strengthen the ACP Regions, especially by agreeing to EPAs that work for the regions. Then we can all happily say adios to the EU; we had a good time! With things hopefully working in all our regions, we can then have an appropriate trade relationship with the EU and with everybody else. The ACP existed before the ACP-EU, lets not forget.


35 ECDPM Editorial Team June 15, 2011 at 10:30 am

Posted on behalf of Glenys Kinnock, former Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly:

For many years I have worked with ACP partners- particularly with parliamentarians. I believe that our ECDPM anniversary must be a celebration of a unique relationship which is based on a contractual and legally binding agreement that is, in many ways, a model for development partnerships more generally.

Now we know, of course, we have to refine and redefine our partnership in the context of a global financial crisis. But Europe and the ACP must continue to work hard together to ensure that respect for civil, political, social and economic rights can be respected and protected.


36 Boodhoo Narainduth June 15, 2011 at 11:04 am

There is need for the ACP to reinvent itself to become a global player while consolidating its relations with the EU. The revised Georgetown Agreement adopted in 2003 sets the basis for the ACP to diversify its activities. Unfortunately the revised Agreement has not been followed by an action plan and even less by concrete actions. The EU does not seem keen to maintain the priviledged relationship with the ACP as evidenced by the absence of any reference to the ACP in the Lisbond Treaty contrary to previous Treaties and this is in my view a big mistake on the part of Europe. It seems Europe cannot see the wind of change blowing over the ACP, in particular in Africa which is emerging as an economic powerhouuse in the making. That is the reason why China, India and other emerging economies are so interested in Africa. Even the US seems to be getting more interested with Africa if one is to judge by the strong political commitment manifested at the yearly AGOA forum where the US Secretary of State makes it a must to be present and where the US President always convey a message to the Ministers present. We do not see this level of constant political dialogue between the EU and the ACP.

The EU also seems to have set its own agenda in dealing with the ACP not as an entity but in a fragmented way by imposing on the ACP the segmentation of the group for the purpose of the EPA negitiations. What it now needs to do is to draw a road map to consolidate the different regional EPAs into one all ACP EPA. The ACP on its part will have to create its own internal Economic and commercial space through a comprehensive agreement liberalising intra ACP trade and investment and consolidatind economic ties. This way it would make the ACP an interesting platform not only via a vis the EU but also vis a vis the rest of the world.


37 ECDPM Editorial Team June 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Posted on behalf of Phyllis Johnson, Executive Director, Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC):

New dimensions in ACP-EU relations: Seeking relevance among shifting perspectives and emerging regional trade blocs

The global agenda is shifting away from arbitrary collaborations towards more cohesive regional blocs, drawing inspiration from Europe’s post-war pattern of greater integration of development interests among neighbouring and “like-minded” countries to achieve economies of scale. The pace of change is increasingly being set by these regional blocs, notably in the south, particularly in the wake of the northern financial crisis.

The emerging economies of the rapidly developing BRICS members – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are playing a catalytic role in this global transformation. Together the BRICS represent a combined population of 3 billion, almost half the population of the world. These emerging economies have firmly announced their presence as global players through the Sanya Declaration and Action Plan that emerged from their Summit on 14 April 2011 in Hainan, China:

“We are committed to ensure that the BRICS countries will continue to enjoy strong and sustained economic growth supported by our increased cooperation in economic, finance and trade matters, which will contribute to the long-term steady, sound and balanced growth of the world economy. In the economic, financial and development fields, BRICS serves as a major platform for dialogue and cooperation. We are determined to continue strengthening the BRICS partnership for common development and advance BRICS cooperation in a gradual and pragmatic manner. … such cooperation is inclusive and non-confrontational. We are open to increasing engagement and cooperation with non-BRICS countries, in particular emerging and developing countries, and relevant international and regional organizations.

“We share the view that the world is undergoing far-reaching, complex and profound changes, marked by the strengthening of multi-polarity, economic globalization and increasing interdependence. … Based on universally recognized norms of international law and in a spirit of mutual respect and collective decision making, global economic governance should be strengthened, democracy in international relations should be promoted, and the voice of emerging and developing countries in international affairs should be enhanced. …”

Some of this emerging global perspective aligns with the sentiments and intentions of the Cotonou agreement, but some of it does not, as it reflects the shifting power balance away from such agreements between the strong and the weak, towards mutual agreements that advance common interests and shared prosperity. The foundation for this new dimension in global relations is the emergence and strengthening of regional trading blocs.

In this context, Africa emerges as the remaining cohesive group of countries in the ACP, positioning itself as the next emerging market economy, as the Caribbean and Pacific countries shift towards their regional blocs and regional interests, and especially as they move towards free trade within their own blocs. Thus, the unequal bilateral arrangements with the EU will increasingly overlap and fall away, even before Cotonou comes to its legal termination. Therefore it would be prudent to move towards this eventuality even before the end of Cotonou, which has extended the dynamics of division, notably but not only through the EPA negotiations, at a time when the regional blocs are moving towards stronger cohesion.

The Cotonou Agreement has rapidly fallen out of step with its time, as it was overtly political at a time when the world had already strengthened its focus on new markets and global trade, and emerging markets were already emerging. Thus, the agreement has rapidly become irrelevant in offering a framework for cooperation as interests, priorities and partners have shifted.

The common interests with Europe will continue to be trade and security, but increasingly the regional blocs will have a preference for adding value to their commodities rather than trading in raw materials for value addition in Europe. Therefore joint ventures that respect the rules of origin are needed to enable European companies to trade into the regional blocs, and to actively identify partners and entry points for joint ventures in the development of infrastructure and industry to add value to commodities and economies within the ACP countries and regions. It would be wise to begin to move towards this now, as 2020 will be too late, and the competitive edge will be lost to other players.

Africa is preparing to become the next emerging market bloc, and foresight should dictate that it be analyzed in that perspective, without overly indulging in the stereotypes of inherent poverty and underdevelopment, that is, looking forward, not back. The political commitment is sufficiently present, as much as it was at the inception of Europe as an economic community. See the short Case Study appended as an example of progress towards the African Economic Community.

Within these various contexts, the ACP remains a useful networking device, coordinating mechanism and listening post, for the exchange of policies and practical experiences between the ACP countries and the EU, and drawing on their rich linkages within the various emerging regions. The development partnership perspective will of necessity have to shift to that of a more balanced, business-oriented dialogue among equals.

The European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), as a development policy institution, becomes ever more relevant and necessary in this context, not less, as the scope of the changing global agenda requires not only sound research and active communication, but strategic networking with selected research institutes and think tanks in the emerging regions. These changes are happening so fast that European policy could lag behind unless there is a clear grasp of the realities and opportunities, cognizant of the challenges, but rejecting the current analytical stereotypes in favour of the new dimensions.


Case Study


The leaders of 26 African countries have taken a another major step towards a Free Trade Area that would cover the eastern half of Africa, literally from the Cape to Cairo – from South Africa to Egypt.
Meeting in South Africa on 12 June 2011, at their second joint Summit, the leaders of three Regional Economic Communities (RECs) formally launched negotiations for the establishment of an integrated market of the 26 Countries comprising:
• a combined population of almost 600 million people;
• a total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about US$1 trillion;
• half of the African Union (AU) in terms of membership;
• 57% of the total population of the African Union; and,
• just over 58% in terms of contribution to GDP.
The establishment of so-called “Grand” Free Trade Area is expected to bolster intra-regional trade by creating a wider market, increased investment flows, enhanced competitiveness, and the development of cross-regional infrastructure.
This FTA, formally known as the Tripartite Free Trade Area, is being established by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
The Legal and Institutional Framework has been agreed through a Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding on Inter-Regional Cooperation and Integration signed by COMESA, EAC and SADC, that came into force on 19 January 2011.
In order to fast track preparations for implementation, the leaders have adopted a developmental approach to the Tripartite Integration process that is anchored on three pillars:
• Market integration based on the Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA);
• Infrastructure Development to enhance connectivity and reduce costs of doing business; and,
• Industrial development to address the productive capacity constraints.
In addition to launching the negotiations for establishing the Tripartite FTA, the leaders of COMESA, EAC and SADC adopted a Roadmap as well as the Negotiating Principles, Processes and Institutional Framework. They have also directed that a programme of work and a roadmap be developed for the industrialisation pillar.
The African Union Commission has expressed strong support for the Tripartite cooperation within the framework of establishing an African Economic Community and the overall African Union Vision and Strategy presented in the Lagos Plan of Action (1980) and the Abuja Treaty (1991), as well as the resolution of the 2006 Summit of the African Union that directed the AU Commission and the RECs to put in place mechanisms to facilitate harmonization and coordination within and among the RECs.
The first Tripartite Summit was held just 3 years ago in Uganda with initial commitment to implementation regarding programmes in trade, customs and economic integration; free movement of business persons; and infrastructure development amongst the three RECs.
In the area of infrastructure development, progress is already evident in the plans to strengthen the North South transport corridor between Dar es Salaam and Durban, with the support of international cooperating partners and the donor community.
Aid for Trade Programmes are being developed for the other major corridors including maritime corridors, and priority projects will be presented at a Tripartite and Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Infrastructure Investment Conference in Kenya on 29-30 September 2011.
The host of the recent Tripartite Summit, President Jacob Zuma of the Republic of South Africa, described the historic Summit that launched the Tripartite FTA negotiations as “a key milestone in the integration of Africa”.
Egypt will host the next Tripartite Summit.


38 ECDPM Editorial Team June 17, 2011 at 4:18 am

Posted on behalf of Carl B. Greenidge, former acting Secretary General of the ACP Group in Brussels:

The initial range of contributors to these deliberations is itself telling and points to some of the key challenges faced by the two sides. In this regard, two things struck me about the exercise, namely limited ACP inputs by way of proposals as well as a less than full appreciation of the Conventions’ financial contribution and strengths over the years. The idea that since the EEC/EU acted in its own interest, there could have been no gain for the ACP is questionable but often not far below the surface in ACP circles.

On the other hand, many EU comments reflect the bureaucratic need for tidy geographical groupings. Geographical neatness can and has never been an ACP priority, however. Economic bonds, such as shared commodity marketing channels, common trade challenges, potential gains from countervailing power in the market, can and have been far more important than geography per se. These lay behind the ACP widening of the Yaoundé Group, an EEC construct.

The ACP states still have common economic interests but as the commodity markets evolve and ACP suppliers’ importance in them change, modified or new strategies may need to be devised. Can the Group still find it worthwhile to work together to confront and cooperate with the EU? Should they widen the range of interlocutors on the other side to bring in other important markets? This latter question is most pertinent to the ‘CP’ component of the ACP and they may need to consider EU as an avenue to other markets and investment sources, a point often made by David Jessop, for example. Such widening has been a challenge for ACP diplomacy and the absence of economic policy is a handicap.

Africa has, perhaps coincidentally, recognized this and is building its policy around its current and likely future strategic importance to Europe and, Sub-Saharan economic integration. New institutional arrangements began to be fashioned just as Lomé came to and end. Some critics fear that the Caribbean, on the other hand, has lost touch with the consequences of, if not the fact of, its changed strategic importance and behaves as if there have been no changes. A ‘sense of entitlement’ has been a phrase used to describe their approach in this regard. Added to this is the weight of the demands of the region’s self styled LDCs, which at times not only places the Caribbean in competition, if not confrontation, with less well off states. This prolongs a battle that should have been concluded after the EDF ‘graduation’ at the Mauritius Council in 1997, the earlier IBRD graduation and the EBA Initiative of 2001.

Latterly, the ACP Group as a whole has suffered from being too passive when confronted by proposed EU institutional changes. Insufficient effort has been exerted on the diplomatic front to influence and modify these proposals. The result has been changes in the ACP EU architecture, which have reduced the traditional mediating influence that the Development Directorate could exercise on policy, as formulated in the Agriculture and External Affairs Directorates, in particular. Consequently, considerations of a developmental nature seem not now to be allowed to get in the way of the EU’s strategic interests.

Even before Cotonou was concluded the advent of new EU members was beginning to resistance to continued multilateralising of what non-traditional Donors not unreasonably, regarded as bilateral colonial interests.

Accession also brought:

A far greater emphasis on trade as the center-piece of the partnership and switch to reciprocity and non-discrimination which had already been embraced by the ACP members in the WTO and UNCTAD before being accepted in Cotonou in 2000 (which committed to WTO compatible agreement/s by end of 2007).

Other northern Europeans such as the Swedes now joined the Germans and seemed to put positions which suggested that they felt they knew best about the requirements of development. In many ways they were seeking more rational positions regarding the recipients and the conditions of EU aid.

EC aid is not well enough recognized as having been relatively conditionality-free compared with almost all other bilateral aid. Few on the ACP side are probably aware of the debate on ‘policy dialogue’ which took place between the spokesmen led by ACP President Hugh Shearer, the EEC Commissioner for Development, Edgar Pisani and the EEC Spokesman, France’s Foreign Minister, Claude Cheysson. It culminated in a contretemps between the two Frenchmen during Lomé III negotiations. In spite of Commissioner Pisani, EU aid remained relatively free of conditionalities but Pisani and his reforms were not to be permanently denied. The subsequent era has not only witnessed changes in aid management changed, in spite of ACP resistance (albeit increasingly less viciferous over time) but the other pillar of Pisani’s reform, favourable to the ACP interest such as development cooperation as a critical element of EU integration, have fallen.

The low level conditionality combined with sometimes irresponsible and profligate ACP spending, was a whip used to beat the ACP in the Lomé IV bis and Cotonou negotiations. At the end of the exercise, historical ties was displaced by criteria of need and effort. With the latter came a more explicit resort to political conditionality and sanctions – political and economic.

Similar changes were taking place in the Bretton Woods fora. Latterin response to universal complaints about micro-management, ex ante blueprints of development have given way to ex post audits and adjustments with adaptable triggers. But some people feel that this has given rise to equally unacceptable consequences, competition for aid based on promises to reward good performers. This post conditionality phase has now been followed by a ‘consultative mode’ of policy formation. This has been described as an iron triangle consisting of a coalition of politicians, bureaucrats and private actors. It is said to actually erode structures of representative democracy and the mechanisms of democratic accountability.

These are more difficult circumstances within which the ACP EU agreements have to operate.

Question 1.

The Group will need to find and/or create regions of interest which overlap sufficiently to cover all or most of its members. They are still similar enough to make this possible. The Group also needs to structure its political relations to complement these initiatives. The widening of the Group to include all LDCs seems unlikely since an effective political community requires more than similarly low income levels.

Questions 2.

The emerging economies hold out the prospect of additional access for ACP products and the investment potential would be of special interest to the non-LDC ACP states. The number of emerging economies offering DFQF access or something close to this is increasing but not nearly rapidly enough to have an impact on ACP states. In any case there remains the problem of trade in tropical products and selected commodities of special interest to ACP states for which the positions of economies such as Brazil and Thailand are fundamentally different from that of the ACP States. The ACP interests of have to be fought for doggedly in the WTO and UNCTAD arenas. This is also clearly a sign of the inadequacy of ACP ‘foreign policy’.

There is much excitement in some quarters of the prospect of trade agreements with the BRIC countries by way of a replacement of Cotonou. The prospect seems especially attractive given their above average growth and their role as drivers of the global change relative. Their capacity to buy more at the margin is attractive. Their willingness to entertain trade arrangements married to major infrastructure projects in the social or productive sector is a great attraction. So far most such arrangements have taken place at the bilateral level.

Nothing prevents the ACP Group with its established negotiating structures and capacity from utilizing these to negotiate regional agreements of this nature.

Contrary to the claims of many of the hand wringers the West, the danger of these arrangements is neither the intrinsic nature of the trade itself or the unscrupulous nature of BRIC states in negotiations between unequals, but the real danger that in economies with weak political systems and autocratic Governments, the seizure and re-allocation of resources such as land used by smallholders to production by commercial companies for export, may create hardship and destroy the livelihoods of these vulnerable groups without giving the victims a claim on the resource flows from the deal itself. At the national level the problems associated with the undervaluation of exports or services accruing to states is no greater with the BRICS than with the West. That is a matter of the competence of Government negotiators in individual ACP States.

Question: 3 the strengths and weaknesses of the Group:


A common understanding among elites and institutions. This is the Lomé equivalent of the Bretton Woods ‘iron triangle’

A long history of cooperation

Common exporters and marketing channels

Weaknesses include:

Cumbersome decision-making fora and inconsistencies at policy level especially as regards criticism of members

Failure to properly monitor EU and joint institutions and to anticipate implications for the partnership.

Inability to prevent the Commission from frustrating programmes by sitting on its hands when it is displeased or not inclined to implement particular policies. This behaviour is often costless (for the Commission) because there is not enough cooperation and liaising by the ACP with EU member states as opposed to the Commission.


39 ECDPM Editorial Team June 17, 2011 at 4:28 am

Posted on behalf of Rob van Drimmelen, General Secretary, APRODEV (written is his own personal capacity):

For various reasons, it is not very likely that, come 2020, we will see a Lomé V or Cotonou II emerging. First of all there are signs that the EU is losing its interest in continuing the relations with the ACP as a group:

1. The EPA negotiations were set up with six different regions thereby, effectively, splitting up the ACP group of countries.
2. The EU has developed the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) together with the African Union, while initiatives were also taken to form a Joint Caribbean-EU Partnership Strategy (JCEUS).
3. In the respective organigrammes of the new DEVCO and EEAS, specific ACP departments are hard to find.
4. The intensifying debate in EU circles about ‘differentiation’ undermines the logic of the diverse ACP group as a whole as a logical counterpart for special relations in the future.

Also on the side of the ACP no great enthusiasm can be detected:

1. The ACP group of nations does not have a clear identity beyond its relations with the EU.
2. Aid money from the EU is still welcome but the trade agenda of the EU is not generating many cheers. The EU-devised EPAs are loathed by many ACP negotiators as well as by much of civil society in the countries concerned.
3. Resource rich countries in Africa have gained self confidence because of newly developing relations with the BRICS and are, therefore, less dependent on markets in the EU.

All this suggests that the concepts of Lomé, Cotonou and ACP may soon be beyond their sell-by date.

Of course this is not to say that economic and political relations between the EU and the members of what is now the ACP will or should be broken off in 2020. There will still be much that binds us together. The challenge is to devise new constellations and perhaps institutions to serve as an interface between the EU and coherent groups of countries in “the South” that have enough in common to constitute viable (negotiating) partners with the EU. ECDPM is very well placed to stimulate thinking and imagination about such a future beyond present EU-ACP relations.


40 Geert Laporte June 17, 2011 at 4:01 pm

With almost 50 thought-provoking reactions from different institutional players and individuals, the ECDPM blog on the future of ACP-EU relations has generated vigorous debate so far. Reactions have been posted from various parts of Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Europe. This is a first attempt to synthesize some of the reactions and to draw some preliminary conclusions from the emerging debate:

Over the past four decades, many arguments have been put forward to describe the uniqueness of the ACP framework and the ACP-EU Partnership. However, the historic rationale does not seem to provide a sufficient basis for the continuation of the partnership as it was designed in the mid-1970s with the Lome Conventions, nor its successor Cotonou Agreement in 2000. While the continuation of the contractual partnership until 2020 is not in question, there is an overall feeling that the fundamentally changed global context has undermined the original political rationale of the ACP-EU relations. As a result the role and bargaining power of the ACP has been significantly reduced, illustrated by the fact that important debates on new global issues such as climate change, peace and security and migration are taking place in international fora outside the ACP-EU framework.

In recent years, the EU has changed dramatically as well. The Eastern European countries that have joined the EU during the most recent rounds of enlargement do not have a history of cooperation with the ACP and the EU “does not seem to be keen to maintain the privileged relationship with the ACP as evidenced by the absence of any reference to the ACP in the Lisbon treaty contrary to previous Treaties”. Furthermore, the recently established European External Action Service does not have an ACP unit and the European Commission (DEVCO) has changed its internal structure along geographic lines without providing a special place to the ACP.

The ACP Group too is undergoing major changes. The Group is more economically and politically dispersed which underscores the lack of a consistent common agenda for the future. It is quite striking that in its 36 years of existence the ACP has not managed to establish substantial relations beyond the EU and with the EU “the relationship has been based mainly on aid with trade taking a secondary role in the development of ACP countries”. Some contributions bluntly state that “there is no common interest except the EDF funding.” The difficult process of negotiating sub-regional Economic Partnership Agreements has further weakened ACP solidarity and damaged trust between the EU and its developing country partners. As one of the bloggers concludes: “the agreement has rapidly become irrelevant in offering a framework for cooperation as interests, priorities and partners have shifted”.

While the ACP as a Group and the ACP-EU Partnership seem to become increasingly less relevant, prospects for development of individual ACP countries and (sub) regions are portrayed in quite promising and optimistic terms: “ Europe cannot see the wind of change blowing over the ACP in particular in Africa which is emerging as an economic powerhouse in the making”. The growing engagement of the emerging economies (China, India, Brazil,..) in individual ACP countries provide significant new opportunities in terms of trade, investment and technical assistance. It provides more bargaining power for individual countries and regions and could foster a more balanced relationship between peers instead of a “donor-recipient” relationship. Others seem to be more worried about the role of the emerging powers. “The emerging economies are competing with the EU for both resources and markets and at the end of the day it is the ACP countries that remain at the losing end.”

In light of the foregoing issues, is there still a future for the ACP and the ACP-EU cooperation? One clear sentiment in the online discussion is that this is not the time for “business as usual’’. Several contributors clearly put the ball in the court of the ACP when it comes to deciding over its future; ‘’ACP countries must decide what they want their relationship to accomplish’’ “The future of the ACP will depend of the ACP themselves’’ “When it comes to discuss the future of the group the question must be addressed first and foremost by the ACP themselves”. The ACP will have to delineate a path for the future or else risk becoming completely marginalised with the expiry of Cotonou “ In this context it is quite encouraging to see how the ACP Group has now taken the initiative with the Ambassadorial Working Group on future perspectives for the ACP to redefine the place of the ACP in a multi-polar world and in the relationship with the EU in a Post Lisbon context.

But the EU also needs to do its own homework and “clarify what it wants from its relationship with the ACP’’. In recent years the EU has concluded several regional strategies and strategic partnerships (e.g. the Joint Africa-EU Strategy with the AU) but it has not yet developed a coherent vision in relation to the complementarity and value added of these new frameworks with existing arrangements. In public statements the EU diplomacy will clearly stress its contractual commitments towards the ACP-EU cooperation in the framework of the Cotonou Agreement until 2020, but it is argued that “the ACP is no longer the key link between the EU and other developing regions’’. In conclusion: “Both the EU and the ACP states have themselves invested little practical effort in clarifying the unique value of their partnership in a transformed development context, what value added and attractions it may or may not retain (…) and what remains in it for both sides”

Will it still be possible to identify areas of common interest between the ACP Group and the EU that can ensure relevance of the partnership? For some, “the ACP-EU relationship has always shown its capacity to change, to adapt and to innovate and that capacity will help to keep the relationship relevant and substantive beyond 2020’’. As long as there is no other and better - and politically feasible - model there is no use predicting the end of a privileged relationship.’’ For others, however, there has never been a ‘’partnership of equals’’ ‘’the relationship always has been that of a donor and a recipient,” and there is a need for a shift to “a more balanced business-oriented dialogue among equals’’. “The earlier the ACP Group realises that development can never be achieved through aid and preferences, the better!”

It is therefore crucial to clearly identify what the value added and comparative advantage can be of the ACP-EU cooperation beyond aid. But it is stressed, repeatedly, that this won’t be easy: “ACP countries must be convinced that collaboration and solidarity will deliver results that are superior to those from exclusively national or sub-regional approaches”. Calls are made for a stronger role of the ACP in international fora and negotiations: “Only if the ACP forge a strong presence in global forums (such as WTO) AND CAN DELIVER a unified position will it retain more than a formalistic existence”

The future of the ACP will depend of its ability to present itself as the most adequate institutional framework to address specific global challenges and defend the interests of the ACP in global fora.

Contributors to the online discussion offer some first elements on which future scenarios could possibly be built, ranging from a rather ‘’minimalistic’’ to more ambitious approaches. For some it does not matter very much if the ACP-EU framework would come to disappear as long as its unique features would be preserved elsewhere: “a contractual and legally binding agreement that is, in many ways, a model for development partnerships more generally’’. Others call for a regionalisation of the ACP Group “that should not be seen as a dismantling of the Group, but on the contrary, as a consolidation of its regional building blocks’’. Still others feel that “the ACP states should seek to integrate other, more coherent, geographic groups and other like minded groups (LDC’s) based on variable geometry”. In the new global governance there is an objective need for a better representation of the least developed and vulnerable economies and the ACP could possibly play a role in regrouping these countries at global level. However, doubts are expressed as to whether this can work: “The widening of the Group to include all LDCs seems unlikely since an effective political community requires more than similarly low income levels.” Calls are also made to better clarify the relationship between the ACP and the African Union (AU): “Could the ACP play a future role as a slimmed down ‘niche entity’, perhaps without the Caribbean and Pacific members, and functioning as a trade arm of the AU?”

Some also feel that the ACP still has a role to play as a knowledge network: “the ACP remains a useful networking device, coordinating mechanisms and listening post for the exchange of policies and practical experiences between the ACP countries and the EU, and drawing on their rich linkages within the various emerging regions.”

Obviously the various suggestions put forward in this discussion will require more in-depth analysis. The debate has been able so far to identify some common threads across the discussions, irrespective of whether one supports a continuation of the formal relationship or not. It is clear that the ACP-EU framework does not seem to be able to survive in its current format. It will have to move beyond its postcolonial character, break with the donor-recipient dependency and develop a clear niche and value added in the new global context. The ACP as a Group will have to clearly define and convince the EU as its traditional key partner, and an increasingly multi-polar world where it can make a difference.

The contributions to the blog have been extremely useful so far. Based on the various contributions made so far, the ECDPM seminar of 30th June-1st of July will further stimulate reflection, analysis and debate on these issues. All relevant contributions to the blog will be incorporated in the seminar report. We kindly invite bloggers to continue making contributions!


41 ECDPM Editorial Team June 18, 2011 at 5:02 am

Posted on behalf of Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, Chef de Cabinet, ACP Secretariat, Brussels.

Is the ACP Group Still Relevant?

If the ACP Group did not exist, it would have been necessary to invent it. The ACP Group has been one of the most enduring institutions in the landscape of international economic diplomacy. An intergovernmental body comprising of 79 member countries from Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific, we are united together by a shared sense of history and a common vision of the future. Originally brought together as a result of the “Association clause” in the Rome Treaty of 1957 which established the European Common Market, the Georgetown Agreement of 1975 formally established the ACP Group as an intergovernmental association.

A stepchild of history, the EU-ACP partnership stands for much more than what some may perceive as a post-colonial relationship. It represents for many a symbol of hope in a divided world. We are also united by the shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law; values which lie at the heart of our political dialogue and development partnership. We at the ACP celebrate our diversity as a source of strength. As an intergovernmental organisation, we stand for solidarity, for dialogue between nations and peoples and civilisations – for collective action in solving some of the world’s most critical challenges.

The ACP has survived in spite of enormous challenges. Such challenges are not peculiar to us. Indeed, international organisations have to continually reinvent themselves otherwise they would atrophy and die. We realise that we can no longer be “all things to all men”. Not only is this not possible, it would not be the most prudent way to utilise our scarce budgetary resources. We have to refocus our energies to achieve maximum impact on the ground.

The ACP’s comparative advantage:

We believe that the ACP Group can be most effective when it sets out not to replicate what others are already doing rather well but when it concentrates in those niche areas in which it enjoys a comparative advantage.

The ACP Group is the largest trans-regional intergovernmental organisation of developing countries in the international system. There is potential to build on this numeric strength to promote the collective cause of some of the poorest countries in the world, with opportunity to establish crucial alliances not only with Europe but with some of the emerging global players in the world economy. The collective strength of the ACP Group derives from decades of inter-regional solidarity, international trade negotiations, development finance cooperation political dialogue and relations with other international organisations.

The strength of the ACP Group lies in intra-ACP relations – the basis of how the members of the Group relate to each other and the essence of its existence. At the various levels these relations should be nourished to allow for greater intra-ACP cooperation and coordination, and a more cohesive, proactive and vibrant Group. As the principal partner for European development cooperation, we could say that our comparative advantage derives from our convening power, our collective strength and the fact that the EU has one of the largest groups of developing countries with which it can coordinate its international policies. We also constitute a sphere of influence for Europe that has long-term implications for Europe’s access to world markets and strategic raw materials.

One of the unique selling points of the EU-ACP system is the joint political institutions. The ACP Parliamentary Assembly, established in April 2005 in Bamako, Mali, is an affirmation of the importance of Parliamentary input into ACP and ACP-EU affairs. It is an expression of the ACP Group’s adherence to democratic governance at local, regional and international level. Within the framework of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), the ACP PA could monitor the application of development policies in ACP States and Regions, based on the aspirations of the populations that Parliamentarians represent. The link between the ACP PA and ACP Council and Committee of Ambassadors in respect of areas of competence and common interest, such as election observation, would need to be further reflected upon from the viewpoint of effective use of budgetary resources and coherence of approach. Currently, the activities of the ACP PA are not provided for in the budget of the ACP Secretariat.

Given that the ACP Group constitutes over a third of the membership of the United Nations, it is in an advantageous position to use its numerical strength and critical mass to form effective alliances with other countries and international organizations to advance common interests within the framework of the United Nations and international community.

Refocusing the ACP for the future:

Clearly, if the ACP Group is to enhance its international visibility and effectiveness the mandate of the Secretariat would have to be repositioned with a view to improving its executive capacity, professionalising its staffing and giving it additional responsibility on management, supervision and execution of projects and programmes.

Several constraints impede the optimal performance of the Secretariat. These include: the human resource constraint, cumbersome decision-making processes, lack of knowledge for decision-making, poor visibility, cramped facilities at headquarters, lack of adequate empowerment for the Secretary-General, and the weak financial position of the organisation in general. With a staff strength of 100 people, the Secretariat lacks the capacity to renew its human capital and to reinvigorate itself for greater effectiveness. Training and capacity development need to be improved. Because of the prevailing budgetary constraint, some of the in-house staff are severely overstretched; having to do the work of two or more people at the same.

There is also the question of the decision-making structures and processes which have not been significantly changed since the 1970s. There is hardly a distinction between technical matters and policy decisions, with no clear demarcation as to the role to be played by the Secretariat on the one hand, and the principal Organs on the other. The formal independence of the Secretariat also needs to be asserted so that some members of the Committee of Ambassadors do not interfere in operational matters such as staff recruitment, promotion and discipline.

Intergovernmental organisations such as ours must function at the cutting edge in terms of knowledge capital if they are to be effective in fulfilling their mandates. The ACP Secretariat would have to scale up its act in order to reposition itself as a knowledge institution. Becoming a knowledge institution requires the capacity to recruit and retain the best; it also requires instituting a new culture of excellence and professionalism across all the key Departments. A knowledge institution is one that generates knowledge and information for its clients, particularly on issues of trade policy, trade negotiations, trade-related development assistance and sustainable economic development in general.

The new Strategic Plan that we have been put in place (Strategy for Renewal and Transformation 2011—2014) aims to reinvent the ACP as an ineffective knowledge-based international organisation. We expect to build on the strength of our partnership with Europe, even as we explore new opportunities with the emerging economies of China, India and Brazil while strengthening South-South cooperation.

Our ambition is also to create an ACP free trade area while we work with our regional member countries to conclude the Economic Partnership Agreement EPA) negotiations with the EU. We believe that the ACP can be a catalyst for ensuring a fairer and more equitable international trading system while contributing to more effective global economic governance. We want to see the role of the Secretariat strengthened even as we enhance our dialogue with our development partners on democracy, human rights and good governance.

Creation of an ACP Financial Institution:

Finally, we believe that promoting the private sector is the ultimate solution to our crisis of development. We believe that one of the effective vehicles for achieving such structural transformation is through the establishment of an ACP Investment Bank (ACPIB). Its role would be to serve as a private-sector led financing vehicle to mobilise resources from member states, the EU, other development partners and the international capital markets to provide financing in critical areas to ACP member states. The proposed bank will be a largely private sector entity, but will be open to ACP as well as EU member states. It will seek to focus on niche areas that do not compete with the private sector or what the multilateral banks are already doing, among them mobilisation of venture capital, trade finance and infrastructures development.

The Leadership of Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas:

In March 2010, when Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas took over the helms of affairs at the ACP Secretariat, he promised to do his utmost to renew the institution and to place us once again on centre stage of international economic diplomacy. He has kept his promise. Those of us who work closely with him know that he is capable of doing even more in the years to come. A political scientist and lawyer, he came to the ACP with a distinguished experience as former member of parliament of his native Ghana, a former Deputy Foreign Minister, Minister of Education and former President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Ghana has an enviable record of producing international civil servants of distinction, ranging from Robert Kweku Gardiner, pioneer Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission; to Kenneth Dadzie of UNCTAD and former UN Secretary-General of Kofi Annan. Dr. Chambas belongs to that great company. Within just a year, he has restored the credibility of the Secretariat and lifted the profile of the ACP Group.

In consideration of all the preceding, I am persuaded that the prophecy of the imminent death of the ACP Group has been grossly exaggerated. In the years to come, we will find out that the stone that the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.


42 ECDPM Editorial Team June 18, 2011 at 6:50 am

South-South Co-operation the future of the ACP post 2020? PAC News via Islands Business. 10 June 2011.
As the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of nations considers it future after 2020, a new thinking has emerged from within the group to explore new partnership with developing countries, or what is known as South-South co-operation.


43 ECDPM Editorial Team June 20, 2011 at 5:23 am

Posted on behalf of Hari Naidu:

Having had the previlege to work under Lome Convention, as trade and development expert, my principle suggestion would be as follows:

*The relevance of EU-ACP relations becomes meaningful when relegated to regional focus; namely, Africa and its geographical regions; Pacific, as single region; Caribbean as a single region.

*ACP Sec may coordinate policy at regional level but it can’t deal with a dissparate political group like ACP.

*EU focus must remain on regionalism and its eventual economic and political benfit to the ACP group.

In sum, emerging markets (BRICs) will impact what goes on in ACP regions. Sometimes it will be for the good; but not always to the benefit of the donors. So there is an intrinsic need to keep open the globalization focus and its impact on ACP group.


44 Frank De Wispelaere June 20, 2011 at 11:03 am

Please find the results of a brainstorming we had at our EU desk….

We need to preserve the “acquis” of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the EU and the ACP. The “richness” of the Cotonou Agreement lies in:

• its legally binding character through its ratification by national parliaments
• the common values (ownership of development strategies, openness to civil society and private sector – “beyond government” -, central role of political dialogue and respect for mutual commitments, differentiation of the relationship according to needs and performances and importance of the regional dimension)
• the contractual nature as enshrined in its articles 8, 9 and 96
• the joint institutions
• “carving in stone” of poverty reduction in the context of sustainable development and the progressive integration of the ACP countries in the global economy
• programming of aid as a vehicle for the aid effectiveness agenda

What could however to be reviewed as a consequence both of the changing nature of our relations with the ACP countries as of the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, is the geographical scope of Cotonou.

First and foremost, we wish to see ACP countries determine whether they see themselves as a group with a common interest that goes beyond the sole motive of the financial cooperation. In this regard, coming forward with common EU-ACP positions in international fora might be a litmus test for the quality of our relationship.

This issue needs to be cleared out prior to the start of the preparatory process on the successor to the Cotonou partnership Agreement.

And what does the EU envisage? Although the Treaty of Lisbon does not alter the legal bond between the EU and the ACP partners, one might see in the new structure of DEVCO the “proof” that the present geographical scope of Cotonou has become obsolete. We seem to go from ACP to A, C, and P.
Does the EU opt for relations with the ACP group as a whole or would it prefer entering into relations with each of the components of the ACP tripod with a view to developing a more coherent and strategic approach towards each of them? Would this imply moving towards separate Cotonou – wise legally binding instruments? What would be the articulation with e.g. the EU-Africa Partnership? How can we avoid the proliferation of funds?
Would the EU be willing to favour a contractual relationship that goes beyond ODA and that would also address issues related to Global Public Goods (climate change; epidemics etc.), forging a much wider developmental relationship.

What can the EU still bring to the ACP group in the 21st century? Where lies the added value of the EU as a donor and an international partner for the ACP countries? The development perspectives of many ACP countries have improved greatly over the last decade. Consequently, they have become less dependent on the EU as a donor and more interested in developing other types of relations (trade-based) with other international players, not in the least emerging economies such as China. The EU side needs to fully realise this and urgently reflect on the role of emerging donors in the ACP and on its comparative advantage towards the ACP group. The prospect of policy coherence for development (not mere lip-service but implemented in practice across other domains, such as agriculture and trade) and of joining forces with the ACP in international fora towards common objectives seems to represent two examples of EU added value.


45 ECDPM Editorial Team June 20, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Posted on behalf of Jean-René Cuzon, Chargé de mission “Commerce et Développement”, Agence Française de Développement:

En négociant séparément les APE avec différentes régions ACP, l’UE a déjà implicitement opté pour un éclatement du groupe des pays ACP ; de plus, alors que les négociations APE piétinent, la signature de nombreux accords de libre-échange avec des pays non ACP entraînent de facto une certaine « dilution » du lien privilégié qui reliait l’UE avec ses anciennes colonies. Au niveau des pays ACP, mon sentiment est que les Etats du Pacifique sont en train de s’orienter de plus en plus vers leurs voisins régionaux, notamment l’Australie, la Nouvelle-Zélande et la zone ASEAN en générale. Pour les Caraïbes, c’est un peu pareil. Le seul groupe de pays qui semble encore avoir un lien fort avec l’UE est l’Afrique, notamment compte tenu de sa proximité géographique avec l’Europe ; mais il est intéressant de noter qu’il y a en Afrique une concurrence de plus en plus forte entre l’Union Européenne et les pays émergeants, notamment la Chine et les BRICS en général, que ce soient en termes de relations commerciales ou d’aide au développement, et que cela « challenge » le partenariat stratégique que l’UE veut avoir avec les pays africains.

De plus, dans ce partenariat, c’est l’Afrique dans son ensemble qu’il faut prendre en compte et pas seulement les pays d’Afrique Subsaharienne membres du groupe ACP. Les pays d’Afrique du Nord sont en effet les voisins directs de l’Europe, avec lesquels l’UE a commencé depuis plusieurs années à développer des stratégies d’intégration (négociation d’accords de libre-échange, politique de voisinage, etc.), et les évolutions récentes en Tunisie et Egypte, ou la crise en Lybie, ont accru encore l’intérêt de l’UE vis-à-vis de ces pays.

Du coté français, on a des relations traditionnelles avec de nombreux pays d’Afrique francophone, avec lesquels on a une certaine proximité historique et linguistique.. Mais ces dernières années, on s’est de plus en plus intéressé à d’autres partenaires commerciaux (notamment la Chine, l’Amérique Latine, etc.), en donnant parfois l’impression à nos partenaires africains qu’on les « abandonnait ». Et, dans le même temps, ces mêmes pays émergeants sont en train d’intervenir de plus en plus en Afrique, et la concurrence de ces pays avec la France et l’UE en général est de plus en plus vive, que ce soit au niveau commercial ou au niveau de l’aide au développement.

Alors que l’Afrique connaît une phase de croissance sans précédent, ce partenariat entre l’Afrique et l’UE est donc fortement remis en question par ces nouveaux acteurs. C’est pour cela qu’il est nécessaire de remettre à plat les relations avec ces 2 partenaires traditionnels que sont l’UE et l’Afrique, afin de renouveler la base du partenariat. Malheureusement, les débats commerciaux actuels – les APE – entrainent une certaine suspicion entre l’UE et les différentes régions africaines. De plus, au niveau européen, les problématiques de développement semblent actuellement en retrait, passant après ces négociations commerciales, mais aussi après les questions migratoires, qui prennent de plus en plus d’importance avec le contexte électoral actuel dans de nombreux pays européens (montée de l’extrême droite).

Alors que la concurrence avec les nouveaux pays émergeants se fait de plus en plus fort et que la négociation des APE a créée une certaine méfiance au niveau des pays africains, l’Europe semble à nouveau s’intéresser à l’Afrique, mais peut être pas pour les bonnes raisons, puisqu’en accordant de plus en plus d’importance à la problématique des migrations et aux aspects sécuritaires, elle risque de passer à côté des opportunités économiques découlant de la forte croissance actuelle des économies africaines.


46 ECDPM Editorial Team June 20, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Posted on behalf of Rabin Boeddha, Senior Policy Officer, Ministry of Transport Communication and Tourism, Suriname:

I would like to share my views, which are based on my experience as government official:

1. How will the expanding global agenda affect ACP-EU relations? Does the current ACP-EU partnership provide a suitable political and institutional framework to address them?

The global situation has changed in the past years, and the scene is very dynamic in all different kinds of aspects: political, economic, and so forth. We need to acknowledge this, and also the EU’s agenda and policies have to adapt to this new environment. As the example of UNASUR illustrates, regional integration is becoming stronger and the EU needs to take this into account. What we need to see is a better marriage between the EU and such new organizations – this is because we actually have the same goals: poverty reduction, combating climate change or sustainable development, to name only a few.

2. What is the impact of emerging economies on current and future ACP-EU relations?

Also emerging economies should join this marriage. Currently, we are witnessing attention shifting away from the EU towards the BRICS, but actually there should be trilateral cooperation.

3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the ACP Group that may help to determine its future when the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires in 2020?and 4. What common interests could ensure a meaningful and effective ACP-EU partnership in the new global landscape?

The EU did an excellent job with the Cotonou Agreement, Suriname and the region have greatly benefitted from various projects and technical assistance, for example in the infrastructure, bananas, tourism, rice sector. We should now face the strengths and weaknesses of this partnership and work out what is needed to keep it in the future.
The need to keep it is based on the fact that we need each other. However, you can only work together once you have one shared vision, which allows you to have a joint policy.
Let me emphasize it once more: emerging economies should be part of this process. In order to tackle global challenges, such as making trade fair, combat climate change and ensure sustainable development, we need to cooperate and make a joint effort.

5. How can the ACP Group reinvent itself to develop a special niche and value added at the global level?

I believe that the ACP group’s leverage is based on two factors: its raw materials and the role it can play in combating climate change.

To sum up: I believe that it is important to have this “marriage”, otherwise countries and regions will not cooperate and this would pose a problem for the global agenda. There is need to acknowledge that there is one global vision and mission, on which we should work together – we need to develop areas of cooperation, and then develop policies.

Finally, I would like to stress that the cooperation with the EU is very much appreciated and thus should be continued.


47 roger pointsman June 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Thanks for kicking off this timely and relevant debate. With regard to the 5 guiding questions, please find below my suggestions:

How will the expanding global agenda affect ACP-EU relations? Does the current ACP-EU partnership provide a suitable political and institutional framework to address them?

The evolving global agenda will affect ACP-EU relations, whether we like it or not. Global challenges like climate change and the protection of the environment, the promotion of good political and economic governance, the fight against the “dark side of globalization” - terrorism, organized crime, trafficking of drugs, arms, human beings, etc. - and the managenet of global public goods will become more and more important. The current ACP-EU framework is not fit to address these issues, let alone tackle them in an effective manner. Both the EU and the ACP will have to take a long hard look at Cotonou and decide whether this framework still serves their respective interests.

What is the impact of emerging economies on current and future ACP-EU relations?

An interesting question. The rising economic and political weight of the BRICS will deminish the relative importance of both the EU and the ACPs and will add to the multi-polarity of the intl.system. One key issue for the ACPs is whether they will continue to be paraded around the arena by the BRICS in the outdated G-77 configuration, despite their very divergent interests and agendas (ex. Durban Conference, Doha round, UN reform), or whether they can form an effective alliance with the EU on these issues where common ground and shared interests exist.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the ACP Group that may help to determine its future when the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires in 2020?

Strength: established format, some institutional delivery capacity, co-decision on the EDF (as long as it lasts..)
Weakness: an artificial creation without intrinsic coherence, purpose, or destination. Narrow focus on outdated ‘development’ agenda, irrelevant for EPA discussion, on life support by EU. Not capable to tackle global problems or to deliver added value compared to national, regional or continental (African Union) level.

What common interests could ensure a meaningful and effective ACP-EU partnership in the new global landscape?

None! Cotonou has outlived its usefulness and the sooner we switch off the life support, the better. What is needed instead is a truely political and strategic partnership between the EU and each of the 3 A-C-P regions, which tackles both the traditional trade and development issues, expands bilateral cooperation into new promising areas (S&T, Energy, Migration & Mobility, ‘Greening’ and Environment, etc), and builds an effective alliance in the global arena. The Joint Africa-EU Strategy is a good example and should be followed by the C’s and P’s. The EU should have the courage to budgetise the EDF and to dedicate a distinct partnership instrument for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

How can the ACP Group reinvent itself to develop a special niche and value added at the global level?

Mission impossible, or at least a very tough challenge, like for the Austrian Navy after 1918 or the WEO. But institutions take a long time to die, so I expect to see the ACP (and ECDPM) around for quite a while… ;-)


48 CHARLES E MINEGA June 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Comments by Charles E Minega (CEDIR-UEM)

(1) The historical economic partnership between ACP countries and the European Union (and also individual European countries) has come a long way, with its weaknesses and strengths, shortcomings and benefits for both parties. As the global economic environment changes, as it becomes more complex in terms of technology and regulatory frameworks, ACP countries need to work harder to fit in the picture.

(2) Partnership agreements are concluded between parties with a desire to have mutual benefits. EPAs have been proposed as a practical solution to adapt to the new world trade rules, and obviously most of ACP countries are not yet technically, economically and financially prepared to shoulder the burden of new commitments in the proposed frameworks. They still lack the robust economic might, the institutional capacity needed for that and technical assistance will need to be provided to facilitate equally shared benefits from the proposed EPAs.

(3) The ACP countries are increasingly experiencing different challenges and need to adopt diversified solutions to their economic development needs. It appears that the African countries have been most destabilized in terms of their economic integration agenda when it comes to drawing lessons from the negotiations of EPAs. The EU has its own strategic interests to propose the new partnership frameworks and, as other Pacific and Caribbean blocs have often come together to respectively adopt a unified position, African countries need to work harder, eventually under the guidance of the African Union and other continental leadership, in particular building on credible expertise from institutions such as the African Development Bank, ECA and African universities, to consolidate their negotiating positions. It is of great importance and interest for the EU countries to strengthen the African economic integration rather than leading to the continent´s deeper balkanization.

(4) As a conclusion, the current negotiations of EPAs on the African continent risk to hit a dead end, or to be counterproductive. It would be wiser for the EU and its African partners to take stock of all the lessons so far learned and go back to the drawing board, adopt a more continent wide approach in a general framework for countries interested in the EPAs, while at the same time have specific oriented annexes for a few countries who would require a different treatment (landlocked small countries, small islands, countries in need of special technical assistance, etc.)


49 Dr. Raymond Ebalé June 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm

En tant que praticien des relations ACP-UE depuis 1996, date de la soutenance de ma thèse de doctorat à l’Université de Paris 7 sur les relations UE-Cameroun, j’ai assisté à toutes les évolutions de cette relations depuis les années 1990. Et le constat qui se dégage est celui de leur dénaturation progressive, favorisée par certains facteurs dont l’ouverture à l’Est, l’évolution de la construction européenne et la reconfiguration géopolitique internationale.
A ce sujet je suis persuadé - et je suis de ceux qui préparent mon pays à cette mutation - que l’avenir de la coopération se trouve dans la mise en place d’un partenariat bilatéral Europe-Afrique. A mon avis la configuration géographique ACP a été une grave erreur dans le partenariat avec l’Europe en raison de l’hétérogénéité des acteurs. Ceci a entretenu une perte de temps et d’argent énorme qui a rendu le partenariat inopérant.
A ce sujet je pense que l’après Cotonou va exister mais que le Groupe ACP est appelé à disparaitre au profit des partenariats bilatéraux tournés vers les grandes stratégies à l’exemple de la stratégie Europe-Afrique. J’ai déjà fait un article de presse à ce sujet au Cameroun en considérant les structurations qu’induit le Traité de Lisbonne et la mise en place du SEAE qui ne laisse plus de place au Groupe ACP.
Nous devons dans ce cas aider nos gouvernements à préparer cette mutation importante tout en travaillant sur les jeunes générations qui sont désormais porteurs de ce projet d’avenir.
Merci à l’ECPDM pour ce travail prospectif. Dommage que nous n’ayons pas eu une invitation pour cette rencontre riche en confrontation des idées.

Dr. Raymond Ebalé Universitaire, Enseignant-Chercheur Chargé de cours au Département d’histoire de l’Université de Yaoundé I au Cameroun
Président de l’Association pour la Sensibilisation sur les Accords ACP-UE (ASAC) basée à Yaoundé


50 ECDPM Editorial Team June 26, 2011 at 8:24 am

Posted on behalf of Leonard MATALA-TALA, Maître de Conférences de Droit Public, Université Nancy2:



51 ECDPM Editorial Team June 27, 2011 at 4:16 am

Posted on behalf of Fredrick Njehu, Trade and Economic Programme,
CUTS International, Nairobi:


1. How will the expanding global agenda affect ACP-EU relations? Does the current ACP-EU partnership provide a suitable political and institutional framework to address them?

The surfacing of the emerging powers has in no doubt shaken the future of EU-ACP relations in the global economy. The presence of India, Brazil, China and now South Africa has challenged the EU-ACP relations notably after the 2008-2009 global financial crises. Others could include Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Turkey with the exception of Korea; receive international aid while at the same time providing development aid to other countries. There is intense competition for markets, raw materials and other natural resources in the ACP countries. In the case of Africa for example, South Africa has been considered as a gateway to Africa by the emerging powers.

In terms of suitable institutional framework and political partnership, the development cooperation between the EU and the ACP could provide an opportunity to mitigate the face value of the losses from liberalization. The picture changes for the better if one wants to factor EU member states support to Kenya through bilateral agreements. The European Development Fund could therefore be utilised to address the supply-side constraints since trade is not an end to itself but an instrument of poverty reduction.

2. What is the impact of emerging economies on current and future ACP-EU relations?

Following the previous forums in the recent past such as the AGOA forum in Zambia in June, Africa-India summit held in Addis Ababa in May this year and the previous China-Africa conferences, it is clear that Africa’s natural resources could play a pivotal role in shaping the future of global trade. No doubt Africa’s over-abundance of a range of primary resources is a prime driver of such interest. So, one would want to ask themselves, who among all these powers presents long term solution to Africa’s marginalisation in the global economics?

From the onset, most of these emerging powers have no long term framework to deal with Africa. In the world of competing economic diplomacy, it is the European Commission that seems to have a guaranteed long term ties with the African economies under the Economic partnership Agreement though many African regional trading blocs are yet to conclude the EPA negotiations owing to contentious issues. So, the future of ACP-EU relations lies heavily on the ability of the European Union under the EPA to convince the ACP group of states with a pact that is development oriented and that which will ensure it promotes development and reduces poverty.

3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the ACP Group that may help to determine its future when the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires in 2020?

In the international economic diplomacy, other emerging powers are likely to ride on the collapse of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific states and would want to have ties with these countries. Their collapse will be due to the weaknesses arising from engaging with multiple agreements by both the emerging powers and the traditional trading partners. Many of these emerging powers have no long term framework to engage with the ACP countries unlike the European Union that offers guarantees long term ties with the ACP under the Economic partnership agreements.

If in any case the ACP could emerge stronger to engage the other global powers in the economic relations, then this has to emanate from strengthening their regional economic blocks and negotiate various deals under these configurations. These may help the ACP groups strike stronger deals as opposed to negotiating as an individual country.

4. What common interests could ensure a meaningful and effective ACP-EU partnership in the new global landscape?

In the new ACP-EU global landscape, it will be important for ACP governments to monitor the foreign direct investments and aid from these economies and analyze whether or not they provide opportunities of threats to their economies. They should exercise ownership from these ties in order for them to ensure a win-win situation. These could enable ACP countries steer clear of the traditional aid dependency that has previously obstructed its growth and development.

5. How can the ACP Group reinvent itself to develop a special niche and value added at the global level?

In n the EU-ACP relations, the main ball of contention has always been ACP’s potential to reap the benefits of these engagements with both the traditional and new global powers. Traditionally, the western powers have always utilised tools such as aid for trade, foreign direct investments and other preferential trading schemes such as those in African Growth and opportunity act (AGOA) for America, Economic Partnerships Agreements (EPAs) for the case of Europe while others such as Japan and China have utilised technical assistance in infrastructural development and technology advancement. However, these schemes have had numerous challenges especially ACP’s inability to address the supply side constraints, low quality products as well as high adjustments costs which have ultimately aggravated African aid dependency.

So, one of the main important recommendations is the need for the ACP states to have a suitable incentives to make it more globally competitive in the global market. The EU-ACP relations should provide some policy space in order to protect some of the vital sectors with direct effect to livelihood, regional integration and regional development.


52 ECDPM Editorial Team June 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Posted on behalf of Dr. Dietmar Nickel, :

This is my non-paper which I did on the issue last February for the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (in German). It has no status whatsoever, but gives a radically different approach to your discussion.

The future cooperation between the EU and the ACP-states: What after Cotonou? (in German)

Executive Summary

It is doubtful if in 2020 there will be a follow-up to the Cotonou Agreement in the tradition of the Yaounde and Lome Agreements. Signs in Brussels and especially in the newly created European External Action Service seem to indicate that the EU might consider preferable to organise its future relations by continent. Discussing the possibilities of maintaining the assets of the Cotonou acquis in a set of newly arranged agreements like the partnership EU-Africa and the EPAs one could see a new set up without losing the added value of the achieved. On the other hand certain conditions on parliamentary control have to be met. The question depends also largely on the ACP side and its wish to maintain the solidarity of the bigger family confronting the EU. The EU itself might reconsider the importance of keeping the only valid north-south dialogue in the world alive.


53 ECDPM Editorial Team June 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

Posted on behalf of Errol Humphrey:

Initial reflections on the ACP-EU relationship after 2020

Context/Historical Relationship

ACP & EU have had a positive trade & development cooperation partnership for more than 36 years. The EU, as a development partner, has provided grant aid and preferential market access, although the latter has become reciprocal in order to attain WTO-compatibility. ACP has been a reliable source of primary products, such as: cane sugar, rice, bananas, cotton, cocoa, plus extractive and/or unprocessed raw materials.

Strong bi-lateral relations between ACP countries and a number of EU Member States, particularly those with historical ties to ACP regions and countries.

Developments within ACP regions and countries, within the EU and internationally have changed the nature of the relationship.

A new phase in the ACP-EU relationship

First, the ACP Group must decide whether it wishes to continue as a group of diverse developing countries, financially dependant on and wedded to the EU or whether it wishes to be less attached to the EU and more involved with other developed players (the USA) or with emerging economic powers (Brazil, China, India). This requires the ACP countries to make serious political decisions about their economic independence and the concomitant financial decisions about their ability and willingness to be less dependant on EU funding.

In my view, ACP countries are most unlikely to move away from dependence EU funding by 2020 or even 2030. Nevertheless, I think the Group should seek to strengthen their trade and investment relations with other world powers, both developed and emerging, while maintaining a special, but more balanced relationship with the EU.

The next phase in the ACP-EU relationship provides the opportunity for the two sides to develop, articulate and pursue a new more nuanced relationship, which would be better suited to the aspirations of emerging economies in the ACP and to the realities of a changed international environment.

The post 2020 ACP-EU relationship must build on that history (Lome – Cotonou – EPA) and take the partnership into its next phase. What should be the characteristics of this new phase?

The new relationship should afford the ACP the opportunity to function more as of strategic partner to the EU than being merely recipients of donor funding and preferential market access. It is time to articulate a shared vision, outline common interests, and elaborate common strategic objectives. The ACP Group will need to bring value added to the partnership in order to maintain its relevance in a changing world.

Towards an agenda of shared interests & priorities

Some of the common principals and interests, which should drive the ACP and the EU in the coming years, would include:
- Principles of mutuality, partnership, joint ownership, co- management: based on Political dialogue at every level – Heads of Government, Ministerial, Senior Officials, Parliamentarians, NGOs, Business support organizations.

- An enhanced strategic partnership, built on broader and more in depth political dialogue as the two partners strive to craft common positions on the various international issues – climate change, and related environmental and disaster management issues; reform of the IFIs; international trade issues as they effect developing countries; effective donor coordination; drug trafficking and terrorism; the right of the international community to intervene; multilateralism versus unilateralism in international affairs.

The relationship will move away from the previous predominance of preferential trade arrangements to one that is much broader-based with greater focus on sustainable development by strengthening and improving the capacity and capability of ACP countries to compete internationally, particularly with respect to value-added production, and internationally–traded services. The ultimate goal, sustainable development and the systematic eradication of poverty, has already been articulated in the Cotonou and EPA agreements. In this next phase of the ACP-EU relationship, the two partners must work together to turn this shared goal into reality.

ACP institutions, starting with the ACP Secretariat, do not have the strength and depth to match EU institutions in terms of pursuing joint strategies etc. EU will need to embrace the importance of effective and timely financial and technical support to enable the ACP countries to achieve sustained economic growth.


• Elaborating the relevance of the relationship at the all-ACP level since the EPAs are already regional and more of both the political and trade interface are likely to take place at the regional level.

• How best to address the economic and social development challenges facing ACP countries? After 36 years of structured ACP-EU cooperation, this remains the principal objective for the ACP.

Priorities actions

Some of the areas, where ACP-EU cooperation should focus in the coming years, include:

- Social development issues, such as: poverty eradication; education and training, particularly at the tertiary level; infrastructural development, including roads, railways, internal air and water transport; supply of electricity and water to all communities.
- Adapting to the loss of preferences by (1) economic restructuring away from declining and subsidy-dependent industries; (2) systematically improving competitiveness and productive capacity; and (3) adopting international-level best practices in every area of activity.
- Strengthened political cooperation and resulting joint actions in the multilateral forums in areas where the ACP and EU have shared interests.
- Many ACP countries are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. Priority must be given to addressing the mitigation aspect of natural disasters, which would reduce the economic and social cost of post disaster reconstruction.


54 ECDPM Editorial Team June 28, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Posted on behalf of Mass Mboup, an African expert in development policy working in Brussels on ACP matters and ACP-EU relations for 20 years:

For me, the problem of the ACP is a lack of strategy. They don’t know where they want to go and are not proactive. They are only reactive to EU positions. Look at the recent cases of migration, Ivory Coast and Sudan for example. In each, the EU prepares itself well and knows what it wants. But in the ACP, there is no coherence. They wait first for the EU position before defining their own position. Or the ACP accept without protest the issues the EU puts on the agenda. For example, the issue of the popular uprisings in North Africa was added by the EU to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly’s agenda at their recent meeting in Budapest even though the countries concerned are not ACP countries and this is not an ACP issue. But the ACP accepts this.

In the past the ACP had strong, visionary leadership and strategy at the Secretariat and active ACP Ambassadors. Solidarity was important. But for several years now each ACP country tries to protect its own interest, so no ACP consensus can be achieved. The lack of vision from the current ACP Secretariat leadership compounds this problem. This is not good for the people of the ACP.

The Economic Partnership Agreements have also split up the ACP Group into regions. There is no real ACP Group representation or solidarity in the EPA negotiations. Each country and region tries to get what its wants regardless of the others positions. The EU knows this and uses it to its advantage.


55 Kamil Majid June 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Je suis conseiller du Président de la Chambre de commerce de Mauritanie, ancien ambassadeur et conseiller d’un groupe économique privé en Mauritanie.

Réflexions en désordre.
La convention ACP-UE a eu le grand mérite d’exister. Elle a joué un role qu’il faut saluer.

Mais il m’apparait que telle qu’elle est actuellement elle est dépassée. Pour au moins 3 raisons:
* Le “printemps arabe” qui s’étend aussi à l’Afrique et certainement demain aux Caraïbes.
* Les populations (et au moins la “société civile”) ne sont pas associés à la réflexion et à la mise en oeuvre de cette convention qui est très peu connue des populations.
* “L’offre” des émergents (Chine; Inde; Brésil).
Que faire? Selon moi, associer (comment? nécessité d’y réfléchir) les BRI (ou les BRIC) à une nouvelle convention.


56 liagre micheline June 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Pour un partenariat efficace entre l’UE et l’AFRIQUE, je préconise l’UE oriente l’aide entre autres sur les secteurs suivants :
- l’éducation ( au TCHAD par exemple, le taux de scolarisation générale est encore en dessous de 45%, celui des filles. C’est comme cela que la Corée du Sud avait décollé, en hissant le taux d’éducation de la population à un des niveaux les plsu élevés de la planète.
- le sport : les jeunes sont désireux et motivés de s’épanouir dans ce secteur, ce qui par ailleurs pourrait régler le problème de pas mal d’enfants des rues
Avec une population éduquée, des jeunes diplômés épanouis, les principes de bonne gouvernance des économies modernes vont être compris à tous les niveaux de la société, les résultats pourront suivis et mesurés, les progrès encouragés.. Faute de cela, l’UE va continuer à donner de l’aide à des acteurs locaux qui peinent à s’approprier les enjeux de développement de leur propre pays!


57 liagre micheline June 30, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Pour un partenariat efficace entre l’UE et l’AFRIQUE, je préconise que l’UE oriente l’aide entre autres sur les secteurs suivants :
- l’éducation ( au TCHAD par exemple, le taux de scolarisation générale est encore en dessous de 45%, celui des filles. C’est comme cela que la Corée du Sud avait décollé, en hissant le taux d’éducation de la population à un des niveaux les plsu élevés de la planète.
- le sport : les jeunes sont désireux et motivés de s’épanouir dans ce secteur, ce qui par ailleurs pourrait régler le problème de pas mal d’enfants des rues
Avec une population éduquée, des jeunes diplômés épanouis, les principes de bonne gouvernance des économies modernes vont être compris à tous les niveaux de la société, les résultats pourront suivis et mesurés, les progrès encouragés.. Faute de cela, l’UE va continuer à donner de l’aide à des acteurs locaux qui peinent à s’approprier les enjeux de développement de leur propre pays!


58 ECDPM Editorial Team July 4, 2011 at 10:30 am

Posted on behalf of Mauritius Ambassador to the EU, HE Sutiawan Gunessee, Chairman of the ACP Ambassadorial Working Group on the Future Perspectives for the ACP Group:


(Brussels, 28 May 2011)


59 Simon Maxwell July 7, 2011 at 3:11 pm

I’m impressed by the quality of this discussion – and by the passion brought to the debate at the ECDPM 25th anniversary conference the other day. In Maastricht, I would say, there were two clear views. One, held largely by people from Europe, that the ACP is well past its sell-by date and should be abolished as soon as possible, preferably before Cotonou runs out in 2020, but certainly no later than that. The other, held largely by people from the ACP, that the grouping has value and should be re-engineered to take on a continuing and larger role. Some in this latter group thought that the main focus of the ACP should be on Europe; others, more ambitiously, that it should have a wider role on the global stage.

Personally, I am on record as arguing that the ACP as a grouping does not make much geographical sense, but that it does offer partnership modalities that should be preserved. See, for example, this transcript of a plenary debate with Louis Michel, at the EADI General Conference in 2005, where I argued as follows (and what a firebrand I was in those days, apparently):

‘There needs to be a startling simplification of the European Union’s relationships with the different regions of the developing world. And in particular I want to raise the question of what the ACP is for in the modern world. The effort that we have been putting into development over the past year has not been about the bits of sub-Saharan Africa that happened to belong to the ACP. They have been about Africa. Africa from the Mediterranean down to South Africa. And yet the European’s political construction has been very much around the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries which formally exclude South Africa and of course exclude North Africa. Why are we supporting strengthening the African Union, strengthening the ECA, strengthening NEPAD, the African Partnership Forum meeting in London in a couple of weeks’ time, and yet the EU is working still with a construction that frankly has about it the whiff of the 1970s? There are too many cross-cutting regional agreements, too many different philosophies, ideologies, accountability mechanisms and policies. There needs to be a radical simplification of our European project.’

In 2008, writing in Europe’s World, I asked the same question somewhat more judiciously, was more explicit about accountability, and also made some specific proposals – to invite non-ACP members to act as observers at ACP institutions, and to ‘EDF-ise’ the budget rather than budgetise the EDF.

‘First, is it time to re-think the role of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group? This clustering has become out-dated, in particular for Africa, as the African Union has become established, bringing to the table not just the sub-Saharan African members of the ACP, but also South Africa and the Mediterranean countries. The new EU-Africa strategy reflects the new reality. Do ACP members really perceive it as having value-added?

Second, preserve the accountability mechanisms developed with the ACP, especially the joint assemblies and ministerial councils. Make these more global in their reach and more effective. As a half-way house, perhaps invite non-ACP countries as observers. This does not mean handing over control of EU policy or spending – that would negate the value of joined-up thinking within the EU itself. Instead, use the assemblies and councils, and the arbitration procedures written into Cotonou, to set up arenas in which the EU and the developing countries can hold each other to account.

Third, this means being cautious on one popular proposal, which is to bring the European Development Fund into the budget, so as to increase oversight by the European Parliament. There is a good case for the EU to do precisely the opposite, which is to broaden the scope of the EDF and merge the budget into that. This would give all aid recipients the benefit of the accountability arrangements associated with the EDF as well as access to Cotonou arbitration procedures. ‘

I don’t know that I’ve changed my mind since 2005, let alone since 2008. I do want to insist on not losing the accountability mechanisms. Not enough use has been made of arbitration procedures, or of the moral force, to put it no more strongly, of decisions taken by the joint Council of Ministers or the Joint Parliamentary Assembly. It would be a great pity to lose those in a rush to recognise new geographical realities. I also wish that the ACP would look at broadening its membership, informally if not formally. The primary value of the Group, it seems to me, is not to try and be a new kind of G-77 on everything that might come onto the global agenda – there are quite enough groupings of that kind already – but rather to focus on the particular issues that arise in relation to EU policy. It is pretty hard to think of issues where it would not be valuable, for example, to have more Latin American or Asian players at the table.

Being at the table does not mean there has to be a single view. Other contributors to this discussion have made the point that interests diverge among ACP members, let alone ACP+, and that countries have other loyalties, as LDCs, or BRICs, or small-island states, whatever. This notwithstanding, we know from collective action theory that trust plays a big part in building consensus, and that repeated collaboration is a good way to build trust. That is why I placed such emphasis on dialogue and other trust-building measures when I developed my eight-point programme for more successful collective action. In the best case, dialogue and trust-building will lead to a coherent view.

Thus, it would be extraordinarily useful to have a consolidated ACP, or ACP+ engagement on the Europe-specific aspects of the following, which will certainly shape development debate over the coming months:

• Aid volume and effectiveness, including the revision of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness which will take place at the OECD/DAC High Level Forum in Busan at the end of November. I’m sure the ACP has a coherent view on whether or not EU Member States should meet their aid pledges! But does it have a view on what share of the EU aid budget should be channelled through Brussels? Does it have a plan for phasing out aid to middle income countries? Does it have a view on how aid should be used, especially the balance between growth and human development spending? And does it have a view on aid modalities, especially the use of budget support? I’ve written about the need to open up the Busan agenda beyond the narrow aid management agenda, and also about the new focus on results which will certainly drive the approach to Busan of some Member States. It would be great to see the ACP engaging.

• Climate Change policy, again especially Europe’s approach to the climate development linkages, and climate financing. I mentioned in Maastricht that the Commission Communication on climate and development promised for 2010 did not appear, allegedly because the member States could not agree on how to define the additionality of climate finance. However, there is much more to climate and development than finance, as we are currently demonstrating in the work of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network, which I chair. I wonder what the ACP thinks of the approach we are pioneering to ‘climate compatible development’, and, more important, what contribution it see the EU making, through its own internal actions and its positions in the UNFCCC negotiations. For example, does EU biofuels policy help or hinder developing countries? Would a shift from a 20% to a 30% cut in carbon emissions be a help or a hindrance? And, in the area of finance, are there specialist instruments available through Europe’s advanced financial services industry that would be useful to help leverage more private investment in developing countries? Answers to these questions would help shape the climate talks in Durban at the end of the year, but also the Earth Summit in Rio a year from now.

• Finally, and this list could go on, does the current food crisis not look like a highly topical issue for collaboration across the North-South divide – and couldn’t the ACP+ help to frame a European response? It is certainly true that food crises require global collective action, whether to balance supply and demand in the short term, or increase supply in the long term. The G20 has this on its agenda, with an important but not uncontroversial paper on food price volatility. Does the ACP (+) think that market solutions combined with social protection will be enough to manage the current crisis and avoid future crises? What would it like Europe to do – on funding for agriculture and social protection, on trade, possibly on speculation?

Following the Maastricht meeting, and having listened to the enthusiasm for the ACP among its members, it seems to me that the challenge for the ACP is to inject a sense of urgency into re-thinking its role. A reflection group on the future of the ACP post-2020 sets too generous a timetable. As I said in Maastricht, it suggests a leisurely post-dinner conversation, a debate among gentlemen (and ladies) rather than players, to use a cricketing analogy. We probably do need ladies and gentlemen, to think nine years ahead to 2020. But we also need street fighters to work with us in nine weeks and nine months on the burning issues of the day.


60 frank de wispelaere July 19, 2011 at 11:16 am

I must say that I personnally like the way Simon makes an abstract term such as “preserve the acquis of Cotnou” more operational by linking it with accountability. I like the idea of transforming the joint institutions into accountability mechanisms. We need to move away from reading out pre-cooked papers on items that are reduced to technical issues towards a political, dynamic exchange of views. We cannot limit lively discussions to the one on the EDF budget as in Port Moresby…


61 Geert Laporte July 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm

The contributions to the blog have been extremely useful for stimulating the debate in the run-up to our seminar, which took place last week, and I would like to thank all of you for your comments!

This is to draw your attention to a new posting by Melissa Julian on our Talking Points blog, which wraps up a few key points that emerged from the debate at the seminar. It also includes an audio interview with ACP Group Secretary General Mohamed Ibn Chambas about his views on the future of ACP-EU relations, and in particular, his reactions to some of your comments.


62 Geert Laporte October 19, 2011 at 9:52 am

We are happy to announce that a comprehensive report from the ECDPM seminar “Global Changes, emerging players and evolving ACP-EU relations: towards a common agenda for action?” is available. It synthesizes the discussion from the seminar with the contributions from the debate held on this blog in the run-up to the meeting, and assesses possible scenarios for ACP-EU relations beyond 2020. The report is available in English and French.


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