Select Committee on European Union Thirty-Fourth Report


Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan African states engage with the EU as members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) grouping of states, within the framework of the Cotonou Agreement.[195]

From 1975 until 2000 these relations were governed by the regularly adapted and updated Lomé Convention. However, major upheavals on the international stage, socio-economic and political changes in the ACP countries, the spreading of poverty, resulting in instability and potential conflict, all highlighted the need for a re-thinking of co-operation.

The February 2000 expiration of the Lomé Convention provided an ideal opportunity for a thorough review of the future of ACP-EU relations. Based on a Commission Green paper (1996),[196] negotiations started in September 1998 and were successfully concluded in early February 2000. The new ACP-EC agreement was signed on 23rd of June 2000 in Cotonou, Benin and was concluded for a twenty-year period from March 2000 to February 2020.

Cotonou is based on five interdependent pillars:

  • a comprehensive political dimension;
  • participatory approaches;
  • a strengthened focus on poverty reduction;
  • a new framework for economic and trade co-operation; and
  • a reformed financial co-operation.

The agreement stresses the significance of political dialogue, of peacebuilding, conflict prevention and resolution, of respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, of good governance, and of a participatory approach to ensure the involvement of civil society and links between ACP and EU actors. It also seeks to focus on poverty reduction, as well as on a new trade framework to support the mutually reinforcing effects of trade co-operation and development aid. The agreement is further intended to achieve coherence, flexibility and efficiency in European Community assistance to each ACP state and region.

Article 95 of the Cotonou Agreement provides a revision clause enabling amendment of the Agreement every five years. A revised agreement was concluded on 23 February 2005 designed to improve implementation and ensure consistency with recent political commitments undertaken by the EU.[197] Among the changes brought in within the political dimension of Cotonou was the establishment of a more systematic and formal political dialogue between partners as part of the essential elements and consultation procedure under Article 96 and Article 8. Revision of development strategies further incorporated reference to the Millennium Development Goals.

South Africa

As a sole exception in Sub-Saharan Africa, EU engagement with South Africa takes place through a long-term bi-lateral agreement on trade and development aid, intended to provide a framework for dialogue between the parties. Known as the Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement (TDCA),[198] this agreement acknowledges the advanced economic status of South Africa, as well as that country's desire to establish relations with the EU on a more equal footing than is possible for an individual ACP state.

The main objective of the TDCA is to create a free-trade area between South Africa and the EU over a transitional period of 12 years whereby the EU and South Africa open their markets to each other at different paces.

North African Countries

African countries north of the Sahara interact with the EU through the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (the Barcelona Process), named after the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, held in Barcelona on 27-28 November 1995, which marked the starting point of the process.[199] The Barcelona Process represents a broad framework of political, economic and social relations between the EU and southern Mediterranean partners.

The partnership has three main objectives, as follows:

  • to define a common area of peace and stability through the continuing development of political and security dialogue;
  • to develop economic and financial partnership towards the establishment of a free-trade area; and
  • to establish a social and cultural partnership.

There are two dimensions to the Partnership. The EU carries out a number of activities bilaterally with each country. The most important are the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements that the Union negotiates with the Mediterranean Partners individually. They reflect the general principles governing the new Euro-Mediterranean relationship, although they each contain characteristics specific to the relations between the EU and each Mediterranean Partner. There is also regional dialogue on the political, economic and cultural fields, dealing with problems that are common to many of the partner countries.

The Euro-Med Partnership encompasses a number of Middle East countries, including the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and the EU's original aim was to assist in resolving the various conflicts in the area. However, this aim has not been realised.[200] A new five-year work programme, agreed in November 2005,[201] refocused the partnership on those areas in which progress is still to be made, but on which it appears possible: human rights and democracy; sustainable economic growth and reform; and education.

Since 2004 the Euro-Med Partners have also been included within the European Neighbourhood Policy.

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was developed in the context of the EU's 2004 enlargement, with the objective of avoiding the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours. It was also intended to address the strategic objectives set out in the December 2003 European Security Strategy of ensuring stability and security for the EU and its near neighbours.

Under the ENP the EU offers certain countries a privileged relationship, building upon a mutual commitment to common values (democracy and human rights, rule of law, good governance, market economy principles and sustainable development).

The ENP originally applied to Algeria, Belarus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine. In 2004, it was extended to include the countries of the Southern Caucasus with whom the present candidate countries Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey share either a maritime or land border (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia).

A key element of the European Neighbourhood Policy is the bilateral ENP Action Plans mutually agreed between the EU and each partner country. These set out an agenda of political and economic reforms with short and medium-term priorities.

Implementation of the reforms is supported, through various forms of EC-funded financial and technical assistance, including instruments which have proven successful in supporting reforms in Central and Eastern Europe

195   Partnership agreement between the Members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part. Back

196   Green paper on relations between the European Union and the ACP countries on the eve of the 21st century-challenges and options for a new partnership, COM (96) 570 Final, 20 November 1996. Back

197   Council Decision concerning the signing, on behalf of the European Community, of the Agreement amending the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, Brussels 7 June 2005, Council of the European Union 8851/05. Back

198   OJ L311 (4 December 1999) Council Decision 1999/753/EC of 29 July 1999 concerning the provisional application of the Agreement on Trade, Development and Co-operation between the European Community and its Member States on the one part, and the Republic of South Africa, of the other part. Back

199   Barcelona Declaration and Euro-Mediterranean partnership: Back

200   Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, 10th Anniversary of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement: A work programme to meet the challenges of the next five years (2005). Back

201   Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, 10th Anniversary of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement: A work programme to meet the challenges of the next five years (2005). Back

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