The future agreement will cover priority areas such as: in response to the European Commission`s communication, CONCORD has drawn up recommendations to put people and the planet at the heart of the future agreement. After several months of interruption due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the 28-member European Union and the 79-member Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) resumed negotiations for a new agreement in June. The two chief negotiators met in N`djamena, Chad, to take stock of the process. Although the two sides did not agree on all parts of the Joint Foundation, they decided to start discussions on regional pillars (EU-Africa, Caribbean, EU-Pacific). These agreements aim to create a common trade and development partnership, supported by development aid. Things have not been as simple as they were in 2000, when the Cotonou agreement came into force. “Africa and Europe want to develop and deepen their relations. But the African side also wants its priorities to be taken more into account,” says John Maré, who, as a South African diplomat, has negotiated several agreements with the EU. African members of OACPS are also offended by the fact that the EU has negotiated EPAs with individual states.
The African Union (AU) is trying to establish an African free trade area. But if different states have their own agreements with the EU, that makes it difficult. “These agreements have led to a great division and fragmentation of the African position,” Carlos Lopes, the AU`s representative for relations with Europe, said in early June. Concord adopted the document “CONCORD`s vision for the future EU-ACP partnership agreement: putting sustainable development and human rights centre”: the document examines and discusses the Foundation`s “6 strategic priorities” in the future EU-ACP agreement. It follows the structure of the EU`s mandates, but makes clear recommendations on the basis of civil society`s opinion on the future Cotonou 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 implementation of the Cotonou agreement has been extended until December 2020. The agreement was originally due to expire in February 2020, but as negotiations on the future agreement are still ongoing, this has been delayed until the end of the year.