The Cotonou Agreement allows EU and ACP countries to negotiate development-oriented free trade agreements, known as EPAs. The EPAs are firmly anchored in the objectives of sustainable development, human rights and development cooperation, which are at the heart of the Cotonou Agreement. Overall, by integrating the literature on EU initiatives to promote `dialogue` and `participation`, it is clear that African civil society actors and business representatives are being denied a real chance to exert real influence on EU trade policy and content policy support. Nevertheless, its participation in EU dialogue events plays an important role in supporting the Commission`s presentation of its trade agenda as in line with legitimate development standards. Because of the continuing incompatibility of previous agreements with the WTO, EPAs are primarily their reciprocity and non-discriminatory nature. These include the phasing out of all trade preferences established since 1975 between the EU and the ACP countries and the gradual elimination of barriers to trade between partners. In order to meet the criterion of a non-discriminatory agreement, epAs are open to all developing countries, thus putting an effective end to the ACP group as the EU`s main development partner. In this sense, the President of the European Commission, as Commissioner for Trade, has given me another priority: bridging the gap between negotiations and implementation. In this regard, I am appointing a Chief Trade Enforcement Officer who will focus on identifying and putting in place barriers to our trade agreements in order to achieve their objectives. In Africa, we are experiencing a similar implementation gap. The EU and African countries should work together to bridge this gap by implementing and improving our existing trade agreements and preparing for the implementation of the AfCFTA even before it is fully implemented. “A wise person is someone who listens to advice,” says a Kikuyu proverb.
In this sense, the European Commission has published “Towards a global strategy with Africa”. Any Africa-EU strategy should be developed jointly, implemented within the framework of the common ownership of the EU and Africa. The same applies to our trade relations. The EU`s trade relations with ACP countries are governed by the Cotonou Partnership Agreement signed in 2000 between the EU, its Member States and acp countries. Given that this comprehensive political, economic and development partnership expires in 2020, the parties are currently negotiating a successor agreement (the so-called “post-Cotonou” agreement). Africa`s relations with the European Union (EU) are at a critical juncture, as officials from both continents try to conclude a successor treaty to the Cotonou Agreement (a trade and aid partnership already signed in 2000 and expiring in 2020). One of the main arguments is how the EU intends to help African countries achieve economic growth in line with the UNITED Nations` sustainable development goals, thereby creating jobs and poverty reduction for their peoples. .
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