As Cotonou Agreement Nears Expiry, EU Negotiates a New Deal with a More Assertive Africa

As the Cotonou Agreement binding the European Union to 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) is expiring in May 2020, negotiation on a new deal are ongoing, reported recently the European news website eubulletin.com.

EU policymakers are hoping to make progress soon since there is growing assertiveness of African governments and institutions in their liaisons with Brussels, the website said.

It recalled that the first ministerial meeting between the EU and African Union was hosted in the European capital at the end of January. During this meeting, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera said that the African Union was “coming of age, with a determination to speak with one voice on the world stage.” The continent’s partnership with the EU also needs to “come of age”, Mr. Sezibera added.

The African Union (AU) mirrors its European counterpart but lacks the institutional underpinnings that the European Commission acquired over time. This partially explains why African foreign ministers did a U-turn last fall and decided that the post-Cotonou negotiations with Brussels would be led by the secretariat of the African, Caribbean and Pacific community, which is funded by the EU.

In 2018, the AU, then chaired by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, has shifted towards self-financing. The AU is at the moment to a great extent dependent on donors, including the EU.

In the meantime, Russia is trying to set foot in the door on the African continent. The first ever summit between African and Russian leaders is to take place in Moscow this year and the Commission has been annoyed by the increasing perception that China is becoming Africa’s main partner in investment and infrastructure building, eubulletin said.

It recalled that Beijing promised $60 billion (€51.6 billion) in new development financing on the continent during an Africa-China summit in September last year.

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