“We have no reason to believe that there will be no agreement by December 2020,” an EU official told EURACTIV. The ACP group conducted a consultation with non-state ACP (NSA) actors to take stock of the post-Cotonou process and to seek input from civil society and other stakeholders. CONCORD Europe participated in the consultation as an external observer. The Cotonou Partnership Agreement is a comprehensive and legally binding framework that defines relations between the ACP countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) and the EU. It was signed in 2000 for a 20-year period between 79 ACP countries and 28 EU member states (27 years after Brexit). It is based on three complementary pillars: development cooperation, economic and trade cooperation and the political dimension. The main objective of the agreement is to reduce and eradicate poverty and promote the integration of ACP countries into the global economy. It is mainly funded by the European Development Fund (EDF), a financial instrument outside the general budget of the European Union which has made a significant contribution to the Pacific region, both nationally and regionally, with non-refundable subsidies. The Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires in February 2020 and formal negotiations on a new partnership agreement between governments began in October 2018. The first formal association agreements were those of Yaounde I and II in the 1960s, followed by the Lomé Conventions (I-IV), which were in force for the period 1975-2000 and which were intended to support the acp countries` efforts for autonomous development.
The Council reaffirmed its intention to finalise the negotiating guidelines as soon as possible in order to be ready to begin negotiations with THE ACP PARTENAIRES countries by the end of August 2018, as envisaged in the current agreement. The Interim EPA between the EU and the Pacific ACP countries was signed in July 2009 by Papua New Guinea and Fiji in December 2009. Papua New Guinea ratified it in May 2011. In July 2014, Fiji decided to begin provisional implementation of the agreement. Of the 14 Pacific countries, Papua New Guinea and Fiji account for the bulk of EU-Pacific trade. The future agreement is expected to cover priority areas such as: on the eve of the mid-February pandemic, the EU and ACP negotiating teams, led by Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen and Togolese Foreign Minister Robert Dussey, agreed to extend the existing agreement until December 2020. The EU has negotiated a series of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the 79 ACP countries.