On April 15, 2021, the EU and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) initialled the agreement on the new legal framework for EU’s relations with the 79 ACP countries, which is intended to replace the previous Cotonou Agreement. The new Agreement is mixed in nature: in addition to the EU, also the Member States are therefore contracting parties. Pending the entry into force of the new Agreement, the validity of the previous Cotonou Agreement has so far been extended.
The new instrument is based on a Joint ACP Agreement and three regional protocols for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific respectively, containing specific strategies for each of the three regions. This structure – together with a new institutional architecture also based on three Regional Councils – will ensure a more flexible and consistent development in EU-ACP relations and allow decisions and strategies to be implemented more quickly, effectively and on time with respect to the individual regions’ needs.
The areas identified as priorities in the Joint Agreement include democracy and human rights; migration and mobility; sustainable development and economic growth; climate change; human and social development; peace and security. A specific chapter has also been dedicated to international cooperation, with a commitment to strengthening multilateral institutions, as well as respect and enforce international treaties and conventions.
Italy has supported the new Agreement, which respects our national sensitivities on priority issues: dialogue on the abolition of death penalty and the ACP countries’ accession to the International Criminal Court (ICC); sexual and reproductive health rights; linkage with the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) in force between the EU and ACP States; cultural heritage.