7-8 JUNE 2017 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Towards a new partnership with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries: Delivering on global challenges and mutual interests

Towards a new partnership with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries: Delivering on global challenges and mutual interests

EDD17 - Replay - Towards a new partnership with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries: delivering on global challenges and mutual interests

special event
Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 09:00 to 10:30

Key points

  • The world has changed enormously since the Cotonou Agreement was signed.
  • How can we ensure we have a new agreement that is fit for purpose?
  • Should the revised agreement be based on something more than economic drivers?
  • How can any new agreement embrace global issues such as climate change and terrorism?


The partnership between the European Union and the African Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) is long established, with the original agreement set up in 1978. The world has changed considerably since then and while the Cotonou Agreement began in 2000, its expiry date in 2020 is a good opportunity to ensure that a new framework is established that can build on lessons learned, be appropriate for today’s climate and be flexible enough to respond to future challenges.

Trade continues to be important – with 25 % of trade from ACP countries going towards the European Union. Today, European countries spend less than they did 25 years ago in ACP countries but they remain as important partners. Growth in the ACP countries has not been even; some countries have taken significant strides in development, but for others, steps have been small. This raises questions as to whether the current agreement should be abandoned or built on.

There are also issues as to whether the current geographical designations are still appropriate. Many small island states, for example, are not part of the ACP countries group, although they bear the brunt of some of the affects of climate change.

The main European Commission proposal on the table for discussion was a new agreement acknowledging the differences in the three regions and enabling different actions where appropriate. The approach would give the European Union more of an “umbrella” role. This was seen as something that could enable countries to meet more of today’s challenges, such as globalisation, climate change and the growth of terrorism.

While this “umbrella” approach was not ruled out by other panellists, it was clear from the discussion that participants of the ACP countries wanted to ensure that sufficient time was available to discuss any realignment of relationships and to look closely at how best to respond. Poverty, population growth and migration were identified as key issues that would shape the agenda in the future. There was some concern as to how any new agreement would align with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate change agreement.

All the panellists stressed the need for an open dialogue, engaging a wide range of stakeholders. There was some support for the involvement of non-state actors who would bring alternative perspectives to the table. Issues of capacity building were raised and the need for mechanisms to be established that would enable real partnerships to be forged. 


The tensions evident between the key players make it difficult to see how an agreement can be reached despite a willingness to look for bold solutions.

Organised by

    David Granger
    President, Guyana
    Teresa Ribeiro
    Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Co-operation
    Government of Portugal
    Stefano Manservisi
    Director General
    European Commission - DG for International Cooperation and Development
    Louise Mushikiwabo
    Minister of Foreign Affairs - Rwanda
    MFA - Rwanda
    Patrick Guillaumont
    Fondation pour les études et recherches sur le développement international
Photo gallery

Password for download : EDD2017