EU signs new partnership agreement with OACPS countries

APIA, Samoa, CMC – The European Union (EU) Wednesday signed a new partnership agreement with the 79-member Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) that will serve as an overarching legal framework for their relations for the next 20 years.

The new agreement succeeds the Cotonou Agreement and will be known as the “Samoa Agreement”. It covers subjects such as sustainable development and growth, human rights and peace and security.

The provisional application of the agreement will start on January 1, 2024. It will enter into force upon consent by the European Parliament and ratification by all EU member states and at least two-thirds of the OACPS members.

The ACP-EU partnership is one of the oldest and most comprehensive frameworks for cooperation between the EU and third countries. The denomination of the new agreement was agreed upon at the 46th session of the ACP-EU Council of Ministers now underway.

“I am satisfied that our long journey has come to a successful end with the signature of the Samoa Agreement. It will provide a modernised framework to revitalise our relations with the largest grouping of partner countries to provide a platform for dialogue and coordination to face the challenges of our times together,” said Jutta Urpilainen, the European Commissioner for International Partnership.

“We will do everything to harness the collective power of our four regions. The EU and its member states, as Team Europe, have launched ambitious investment packages under Global Gateway across all three regions and we push forward to implement these packages, Urpilainen,” added.

The EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said this agreement is a landmark for the EU’s external relations.

“The Samoa agreement brings together more than half of the UN members, from four continents, around shared priorities and interests. We are definitely moving away from the old paradigms and instruments that linked the EU to most of those countries into win-win partnerships that are fit for the current world.

“At a moment in time where multilateralism is in danger, the fact that so many countries can come together and agree on joining forces to face global challenges opens a door for optimism,” said Borrell.

OACPS Secretary General, Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, said “As we negotiated the post-Cotonou agreement, which now becomes the Samoa Agreement, the interests of Small Island Developing States were taken into consideration. If you look at the structure of this agreement, it’s particularly interesting because it was negotiated with three protocols, covering each one of the regions of the OACPS.”

Chikoti said the new treaty has key provisions for regular review and the involvement of non-state actors.

“I think that an important aspect of this agreement is that partners can sit together every five years to look into where they can do better. I think this engagement is very important for the region.”

“Another important aspect is that as we move from Cotonou to Samoa, we see engagement will be more and more collective, with civil society participating in all major issues that our regions face. The new agreement fosters large participation from civil society,” he added.

The new Samoa Agreement outlines common principles and covers areas including human rights, democracy and governance, peace and security, human and social development, sustainable economic growth and development, environmental sustainability and climate change migration and mobility.

The agreement includes a common foundation, which applies to all parties, combined with three regional protocols for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific with a focus on the specific needs of each region.

The 27 EU member states and the 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries together represent around two billion people and more than half of the seats at the United Nations.

The EU said with this new agreement, the parties will be better equipped to address emerging needs and global challenges, such as climate change, ocean governance, migration, health, peace and security.

The post-Cotonou negotiations started in September 2018, under the leadership of Commissioner Neven Mimica, in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The chief negotiators initiated the new Agreement in April 2021.

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