European Scrutiny Committee Contents

46 Cotonou Agreement: implementing the latest revision




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COM(10) 211



10383/10 COM(10) 279

Draft Council Decision on the signature, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement amending for the second time the Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific States

Draft Council Decision on the position to be adopted by the European Union within the ACP-EC Council of Ministers concerning the transitional measures applicable from the date of signing to the date of entry into force of the Agreement amending for the second time the Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific States

Legal baseArticles 217 and 218 TFEU; unanimity
Document originated(a) 30 April 2010

(b) 27 May 2010

Deposited in Parliament(a) 25 May 2010

(b) 4 June 2010

DepartmentInternational Development
Basis of considerationEMs of 7 and 11 June 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone
Discussed in Council14 June 2010 Foreign Affairs Council
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


46.1 The Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states and the European Community and its Member States was signed in June 2000 for a period of 20 years, subject to five-year reviews. Cotonou provides the legal basis governing the political, commercial and developmental relations between the two parties, and a framework to allow coordinated EU action in ACP countries on issues such as human rights, good governance, rule of law and migration. The agreement also contains the objectives for the European Development Fund (EDF), which provides development assistance to the ACP states.

46.2 The European Commission negotiates with the ACP on behalf of the EU on the basis of a mandate agreed by Council. Negotiations on the Second Review of the Agreement started on 29 May 2009 and were concluded at an extraordinary Joint Ministerial meeting in Brussels on 19 March 2010. The EU negotiator, Commissioner Piebalgs, and the Gabonese Secretary of State Bunduku-Latha as the ACP representative, initialled the revised Agreement with amendments as detailed in chapter 1 of this Report.[186]

The first Council Decision

46.3 Document 9255/10 contains the draft Council Decision to allow the President of the Council to sign the revised Cotonou Agreement and to make the necessary amendments to bring the Cotonou Agreement into line with the Lisbon Treaty.

The Government's view

46.4 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 7 June 2010, the Secretary of State for International Development (Mr Andrew Mitchell) explains that this draft Decision is the first of the legal documents required to finalise the Second Revision of Cotonou. He says that the revised Agreement "meets the overall EU aims as agreed at the outset and provides a good framework for the EU's relationship with the ACP states." He describes the references to the Accra Agenda for Action on aid effectiveness, the Monterrey aid commitments on financing for development, the Paris aid effectiveness principles and the need for all parties to make a concerted effort to achieve the MDGs as "all important for future efforts to improve the effectiveness of actions by the EU and by the ACP states themselves to secure progress towards the MDGs", and also says that "recognition in the text of the serious global challenge of climate change reinforces the need for the EU to act to tackle climate change and address its impact in developing countries."

46.5 He again highlights the revised Article 33 on taxation as important:

"Taxation has a key role to play in mobilising domestic resources for development and reducing reliance on external aid. The Article promotes participation in international tax cooperation processes and compliance with international standards, in line with the G20 tax transparency initiative. In this context, a number of ACP countries, particularly Caribbean countries with significant financial sectors, are concluding tax information exchange agreements with G20 and OECD countries. The Article on taxation should also facilitate a wider range of ACP countries participating in, and benefiting from, international tax transparency."

46.6 The Secretary of State also welcomes the commitment in the Joint Declaration on migration to continue dialogue and enhance co-operation in this area:

"An agreement in the future will be helpful but the UK's bilateral readmission agreements with many ACP countries are not directly dependent on Cotonou and remain in force."

46.7 The Secretary of State then points out that Article 96 of the Agreement maintains the process which the two sides (ACP and EC) should follow should there be a breach in "essential" elements — respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law —commenting and that:

"they remain of crucial importance in securing progress in all developing countries. The UK will support work to implement this Article effectively."

46.8 The Secretary of State also points out that the Agreement contains updated language on trade and new text to reflect Economic Partnership Agreements, and says that the Agreement "reflects a balance between the interests of the ACP countries in maintaining their trade preferences with the EU and the EU's freedom to negotiate trade agreements with third parties."

46.9 He goes on to welcome:

"the modifications to the programming sections of the revised Agreement, in particular the streamlining of the Intra-ACP programming and the increased flexibility of allocation processes. The latter will ensure that the Commission is better placed to respond to global shocks such as the financial crisis, for which it had to develop a specific response mechanism (the Vulnerability-Flex) due to the limited flexibility under the current Agreement."

46.10 Finally, the Secretary of State supports the proposed changes to the Cotonou Agreement to bring it in line with the Lisbon Treaty as outlined in the Decision, which he says is "a necessary step for consistency."

The second Council Decision

46.11 This draft Decision is the second of the legal documents required to finalise the Second Revision of the Cotonou Agreement. The next step will be for all parties to take forward the ratification process. Parties to the Agreement have two years to ratify the revised text for it to come formally into force. The draft Decision allows for the revised Agreement to come provisionally into force whilst the ratification process takes place.

The Government's view

46.12 In a separate Explanatory Memorandum of 11 June 2010, the Parliamentary Secretary at the Department for International Development (Mr Stephen O'Brien) says:

"whilst this makes little difference to individual EU Member States, it means that it can provide a revised framework for the European Commission to use in its programming and implementation work. If the European Commission was to wait for ratification, it would mean that the next programming process (envisaged to start in 2011) for country strategies in the ACP countries would be informed by the existing First Revision of Cotonou, which is now out of date. The UK therefore welcomes this provisional application."

46.13 The Minister again notes that:

—  the revised Agreement does not commit the EU to any further funding after the current European Development Fund 10 (EDF10), which expires in 2013;

—  discussions on ACP funding post-EDF10 will take place alongside the broader discussions for the Financial Perspectives (2014 — 2020); and

—  the European Commission will, however, use the revised Agreement to influence their programming for ACP countries up until 2015, when this Agreement will next be considered for revision.

46.14 Finally, the Minister says that this Decision is also scheduled to be approved by the Foreign Affairs Council on 14 June, before the final Agreement is signed on behalf of the EU at the ACP-EU Ministerial Council on 22 June in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; and that, following signature, the European Parliament will need to give its consent to the Agreement, before the Council can adopt a third and final Decision on conclusion of the Agreement.


46.15 No questions arise from the procedure or the documents. But we are nonetheless drawing them to the attention of the House because of the importance of the Agreement and the revisions to it.

46.16 As we note above, we consider this elsewhere in our Report, and have recommended that it be debated in the European Committee.[187]

46.17 In the meantime, we now clear these Council Decisions.

186   See (31447)-: "Second Revision of the Cotonou Agreement - Agreed Consolidated Text" in chapter 1 of this Report. Back

187   See chapter 1 of this Report.


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