EU reaches accord with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries

Twenty-year treaty to be signed next year will replace the Cotonou Agreement.

EU reaches accord with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries

Negotiators clinched a political deal Thursday on a new, 20-year treaty that will broadly define relations between the EU’s 27 member countries and 79 nations that belong to the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States.

The new treaty will replace the Cotonou Agreement, which was enacted in 2000 with the aim of reducing poverty and helping to integrate ACP countries into the global economy. The text of the accord must still be finalized and ratified, but once complete will set a framework for ties between countries with a total population of more than 1.5 billion.

The agreement focuses on six broad areas: human rights, democracy and governance; security; human and social development; environmental sustainability and climate change; sustainable growth; and migration and mobility.

In anticipation of the political deal, members of the European Parliament warned on Wednesday that they would block the treaty unless it included provisions granting a bigger oversight role for members of parliament from each bloc.

“We are sending a clear message to the Commission: a parliamentary dimension with a real consultative role for the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly as well as at a regional level is a non-negotiable condition for the European Parliament in order to give its consent to a new Agreement,” Tomas Tobé, a Swedish MEP from the center-right European People’s Party, said in a statement.

A senior EU official involved in the talks said that negotiators were working to address the demands.

“The European Parliament indeed is not fully convinced,” the official said. “We are still speaking with the European Parliament to see whether there are, let’s say still adjustments, to be made that could clarify, that would reassure.”

At the direction of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel, the EU has pivoted toward Africa in a bid to enhance relations and promote multilateralism.

In a statement, the EU’s commissioner for international partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “Today’s deal marks a step towards a new era for the EU, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.”