On December 3, 2020, Chief negotiators of the European Union, Ms. Jutta Urpilainen and the Organisation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), Hon. Robert Dussey, arrived at a political deal on the text for the new agreement to replace the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. The deal, which will require initialing, signature and ratification by the parties, was a culmination of two years of intense negotiations covering several areas of mutual interest composed of a “common foundation”, which sets out shared values and principles and indicates the strategic priority areas for the partnership. These are: (i) human rights, democracy and governance, (ii) Peace and security, (iii) Human and social development, (iv) Environmental sustainability and climate change, (v) Inclusive sustainable economic growth and development, and (vi) Migration and mobility.
The new Partnership Agreement also allows for an unprecedented regional focus by combining the ‘common foundation’ with three specific, action-oriented regional protocols (Africa-EU, Caribbean-EU, Pacific-EU) which focus on the priorities of each region. The regional protocols will be annexed to the common foundation and contain their own specific governance to manage and steer the relations with the EU and the different regions involved, including through joint parliamentary committees. There will also be an overarching joint OACPS-EU framework with a strong parliamentary dimension.
Serving in the capacity of Vice- chair of the OACPS Central Negotiating Group and Lead negotiator for the Caribbean-EU Regional Protocol at Ambassadorial level, Guyana, through its Embassy in Belgium, played a leading role towards achieving convergence on several sensitive issues throughout the negotiating process.
Following the political deal, the text will be subjected legal verification before the agreement is initialed by the chief negotiators, marking the end of the negotiations. Signature of the agreement take place in Apia, Samoa in the second half of 2021. To facilitate this process, the Cotonou Agreement which should have expired on December 31, 2020 will be extended to November 30, 2021.
Together, Member States of the EU and OACPS represent over 1.5 billion people and more than half of the seats at the United Nations. Upon its entry into force, the new agreement will replace the Cotonou Partnership Agreement as the legal framework to inform political and economic cooperation between the European Union and the 79 member countries of the OACPS and equip them to address emerging needs and global challenges over the next 20 years.