§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the improvements in the development, trade and political relationship between the EU and Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific that will be achieved by the Cotonou Agreement. 145W
§ Clare Short
The ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, often referred to as the Cotonou Agreement, was signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000. Pending ratification by all member states and two thirds of the ACP states, it will enter into effect.
The Cotonou Agreement is the successor to the Lome Conventions. It marks the most important revision of the relationship between EU and the ACP states since the first Lome Convention was signed in 1975. It provides an overall framework for political dialogue, development co-operation and trade relations with 78 developing countries. Together with the wider on-going reform of EC development assistance, the Cotonou Agreement is a step towards improving the European Community contribution to the meeting of the millennium development goals.
Most importantly, the Cotonou Agreement has established poverty reduction as its central aim. Respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law together with the importance of good governance underpin the agreement and have been given much more emphasis than in past relations. A process for consultations and possible action has been defined if these basic elements of the agreement have been breached. The principle of partnership between EU and ACP states has also been reaffirmed in the agreement, supporting the emphasis on mutual responsibility and dialogue. Likewise, consultations with civil society in all aspects of the implementation of the agreement have been put to the fore.
One of the most important aspects of Cotonou is the new trade deal between EU and the ACP, whereby ACP's access to the EU market will be maximised while promoting their gradual integration into the global economy. The EU is now committed to open its markets to a substantial block of developing countries.