A communication on a renewed partnership for the post-2020 year was adopted in 2016. It: political dialogue is a key element of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which has already been considerably strengthened during the 2005 revision. Articles 8 and 96, which deal with “political dialogue,” “essential elements” and “consultation procedure and appropriate measures on human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law,” are two key provisions within the CPA, on which a debate continues. Given that the amendments introduced by the 2005 CPA revision have only recently been ratified, it is not yet clear whether this revision has been sufficiently extensive in practice to support Article 8 to facilitate the increased engagement of ACP-EU countries through political dialogue. ACP States, in particular, remain interested in the increased use of Article 8 dialogue before the stricter provisions of Article 96 are binding. Whether or not the 2005 review strengthened this principle appropriately will not be apparent until the next few months, when the revised provision is put into practice. Other articles in the “Political Dimension” chapter of the CPA (part 1, Title II) also deal with the aspects on which an important part of the political dialogue and the EU are based. For example, Article 11 on peace-building policies, conflict prevention and conflict resolution forms the basis of the peace support facility for Africa, and Article 13 on migration covers an area in which there is an important dialogue between ACP countries and the EU. Both sides should continue to offer leeway for a future ACP-EU commitment.
promote greater awareness and understanding of stakeholders in the substance of the Cotonou agreement and relevant processes. The revision provides an opportunity to inform key stakeholders, including parliaments, about the priorities and issues at stake. The general view is that the implementation of the revised Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) of 2005 has so far been unsatisfactory, although its text is considered to be largely acceptable. This is partly due to the lack of information on the implementation of Cotonou, but also to the inadequacy of dialogues and the lack of systematic consultation between stakeholders. Perhaps the most radical amendment introduced by the Cotonou Agreement concerns trade cooperation. Since the first Lomé Convention in 1975, the EU has not granted reciprocal trade preferences to ACP countries. However, under the Cotonou Agreement, this system has been replaced by the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), a new regime that came into force in 2008. The new regime provides for reciprocal trade agreements, which means that not only does the EU grant duty-free access to its ACP export markets, but also that ACP countries grant duty-free access to their own markets for EU exports. The agreement was signed in 2000 and will expire at the end of 2020. The question was asked whether such issues would not be better addressed at the regional and continental level, for example by .B AU for Africa. The joint EU-Africa strategy adopted at the Lisbon Summit in December 2007 was an important new development in the debate on the importance of the Cotonou partnership and ACP-EU cooperation.
It is clear that a dialogue between the EU and Africa as a whole has great potential for enhanced political partnership. The joint EU-Africa strategy seems to increase the awareness that the AU may be better placed than ACP countries to serve African interests, particularly in policy areas such as peace and security or migration. However, for the AU to become a strong political partner of the EU, political commitment must be complemented by significant investments in capacity building.