The Cotonou Partnership Agreement has been regulating the relationship between the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the European Union (EU) since it came into force in the year 2000. The Agreement will expire in the year 2020 as it was scheduled for a 20 year period. In this regard, it provides for the parties to enter into negotiations towards a replacement Agreement 18 months prior to its expiry. As is spelled out in the provisions; negotiations have commenced.
Negotiations of the Foundation level of the Agreement are underway, and preliminary consultations towards approaches to the regional protocols of the Agreement have been held. The first consultation, which was between the Pacific Member States of the ACP and the EU Chief Negotiator, was held in March 2019 in the Pacific Region. Thereafter were consultation between the Caribbean Member States of the ACP and the EU Chief Negotiator in the Caribbean, in April 2019.
The Kingdom of Eswatini was elected by African Member States of the ACP to Chair the Central Negotiating Group to negotiate the Africa Regional Protocol. The Kingdom of Eswatini hosted the High-Level ACP Africa-EU Protocol Regional Consultations on the 3rd of May 2019 in Ezulwini, Kingdom of Eswatini. It was attended by African Ministers, Brussels-based Ambassadors, African Regional Economic Organizations, mainly the African Union, COMESA, and UEMOA; a well as other dignitaries.
The High-Level ACP Africa-EU Protocol Regional Consultation was officially opened by the His Excellency the Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Eswatini Mr. Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini and Co-Chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mrs. Thulisile Dladla and the European Union Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development and Mr. Neven Mimica.
During the sessions, the parties exchanged Strategic Priority Areas, with the African Priorities being presented by the various African Ministers present. The Commissioner presented the EU’s Strategic Priorities. The Africa Region Consultation with the EU was a success as evidenced by the considerable areas of convergence between the Parties’ views relating to their Strategic Priority Areas.
The African States Member to the ACP, led by the Kingdom of Eswatini are committed to negotiating a document based on the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Joint Africa Europe Strategy in an effort to eradicate poverty and enrich the lives of the people of Africa.