Negotiations on the new Cotonou agreement: On the home straight?

talk to you again. After months of Corona-break, the European Union and ACP States have been negotiating since the beginning of June, again on a new agreement.V

Negotiations on the new Cotonou agreement: On the home straight?

talk to you again. After months of Corona-break, the European Union and ACP States have been negotiating since the beginning of June, again on a new agreement.Virtually, and with great optimism: "I am delighted that we are getting closer to the finish line," said EU negotiator Jutta Urpilainen at the start. Your ACP-Mr Robert Dussey thought it was rather, with diplomatic restraint: The negotiations were "satisfactory".

Both sides emphasize that they will soon come to an end. It would be necessary. The Cotonou agreement, for 20 years, the basis for the common relations, from running to the end of the year. Since 2018, the negotiations on a new Pact drag by. There is a range: the political relations, economy, trade, and development policy. At the core of the relations between the 106 countries of the EU and 79 former European colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Most of the so-called ACP States in Africa.

We are A Marathon with an uncertain outcome

"in the final phase of the negotiations," according to an EU Commission spokeswoman on a DW request. About 95 percent of the text of the contract was agreed. Accurate information or an Interview, the Commission declines, however.

experts remain, in spite of this message carefully: "Anyone who has run a Marathon knows that the last five percent are the most difficult. You decide at the end whether you will stand with a good result or with muscle soreness," says Niels Keijzer from the German development Institute (DIE) to the DW.

Because the things are no longer as easy as it was in 2000 when the Cotonou agreement came into force. "Africa and Europe want to expand their relationships and deepen. But the African side also want your priorities to be taken more into account," says John Maré, who is acting as a South African Diplomat and several agreements with the EU.

especially in the case of the trade relations with many African States are calling for a new course. The Cotonou agreement, laid the Foundation stone for the controversial economic partnership agreement, according to its English title of EPAs called. The EU has negotiated in the last few years, with a number of ACP countries such contracts. At the core of both sides, customs duties and other trade agree to reduce barriers and open their markets to the products of the other. "The agreement will be perceived in Africa as unfair," says Ex-Diplomat Maré. Critics of the EU to flood local markets with cheap imports such as meat and destroy the local economy. The EU rejects the.

competitive to pan-African free trade zone

The African ACP members are also confronted to the fact that the EU has been negotiating the EPAs with individual countries. At the same time, the African Union (AU), but an Africa-wide attempts free trade zone to build up. But if different States have with the EU's own rules, that makes the thing difficult. "These agreements have done a lot of cleavage and fragmentation of the African Position," scolded Carlos Lopes, representative of the AU for the relations with Europe, at the beginning of June.

experts see the dispute to the EPAs is the biggest obstacle on the road to a new agreement. But it looks as if the EU will give in. It would also be difficult: "A new agreement can not affect the partnership contracts is essential. There are separate international treaties, cannot be amended by a new agreement," says THE expert Keijzer. Instead, the EU will promise more of additional assistance to help African countries trade with Europe: money for infrastructure or border management, for example.

agreement until next year?

the dispute is also about money. The Cotonou agreement also regulated the financial relations. In the last six years, the ACP countries received over EUR 30 billion in development aid from Brussels. Governments of poor countries want it to stay that way. "The ACP States have urged that a financial Protocol is part of the agreement," says expert Keijzer. The EU, by contrast, is cautious and would just like to make General Commitments. Funding will in future come from the regular budget. But it has to be made each year by the member countries decided. A risk for the ACP.

So many open questions remain. In spite of the official optimism, the Ex-Diplomat Maré remains sceptical about the conclusion of the negotiations: "I no longer reckon with this year. I think it is more likely that the Cotonou agreement is extended again."

author: Daniel Pelz

*The contribution of "negotiations on the new Cotonou agreement: On the final straight?" published by Deutsche Welle. Contact with the executives here.

Deutsche Welle
Updated Date: 24 July 2020, 10:27

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