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Cotonou Agreement and Local Governments EU aid tools

Cotonou Agreement and Local Governments

The Cotonou Agreement

The Cotonou Agreement is the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU. Since 2000, it has been the framework for the EU's relations with 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). In March 2010, the European Commission and the African Caribbean Pacific group have concluded the second revision of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement following a first revision in 2001. ACP-EU cooperation has been adapted to new challenges , such as climate change, food security, regional integration, State fragility and aid effectiveness.

The 2010 consolidated version of the second revision of the Cotonou Agreement is now available . However, the document cannot be used as an official reference, as only the text of the Agreement amending the Partnership Agreement and published in the paper edition of the Official Journal of the European Union is deemed authentic.

The second revision adapts the partnership to changes which have taken place over the last decade, in particular:

· The growing importance of regional integration in ACP countries and in ACP-EU cooperation is reflected. Its role in fostering cooperation and peace and security, in promoting growth and in tackling cross-border challenges is emphasized. In Africa, the continental dimension is also recognized, and the African Union becomes a partner of the EU-ACP relationship.

· Security and fragility: no development can take place without a secure environment. The new agreement highlights the interdependence between security and development and tackles security threats jointly. Attention is paid to peace building and conflict prevention. A comprehensive approach combining diplomacy, security and development cooperation is developed for situations of State fragility.

· Our ACP partners face major challenges if they are to meet the Millennium Development Goals, food security, HIV-AIDS and sustainability of fisheries. The importance of each of these areas for sustainable development, growth and poverty reduction is underlined, and joint approaches for our cooperation are now agreed.

· For the first time, the EU and the ACP recognize the global challenge of climate change as a major subject for their partnership. The parties commit to raising the profile of climate change in their development cooperation, and to support ACP efforts in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change.

· The trade chapter of the Agreement reflects the new trade relationship and the expiry of preferences at the end of 2007. It reaffirms the role of the Economic Partnership Agreements to boost economic development and integration into the world economy. The revised Agreement highlights the challenges ACP countries are facing to integrate better into the world economy, in particular the effects of preference erosion. It therefore underlines the importance of trade adaptation strategies and aid for trade.

· More actors in the partnership: the EU has been promoting a broad and inclusive partnership with ACP partners. The new agreement clearly recognizes the role of national parliaments, local authorities, civil society and private sector.

· More impact, more value for money: This second revision is instrumental in putting in practice the internationally agreed aid effectiveness principles, in particular donor coordination. It will also untie EU aid to the ACP countries to reduce transaction costs. For the first time, the role of other EU policies for the development of ACP countries is recognized and the EU commits to enhance the coherence of those policies to this end.

The Cotonou Agreement and Local Government

The relations between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states are a particularly important aspect of the EU development cooperation policy and, more widely, of its external action.

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 cooperation.

The February 2000 expiration of the Lomé Convention provided an ideal opportunity for a thorough review of the future of ACP-EU relations. Against a background of an intensive public debate, based on a Commission Green paper (1996)* and a discussion paper**, negotiations started in September 1998 and were successfully concluded in early February 2000. The new ACP-EU agreement was signed on 23rd of June 2000 in Cotonou, Benin between the European Union and 77 countries from the ACP and was concluded for a twenty-year period from March 2000 to February 2020.

The Cotonou Agreement is a global and exemplary Agreement, introducing radical changes and ambitious objectives while preserving the ' acquis ' of 25 years of ACP-EU cooperation. The overall objective of the Agreement is to reduce and eventually eradicate poverty while contributing to sustainable development and to the gradual integration of ACP countries into the world economy. It is based on five interdependent pillars: an enhanced political dimension; increased participation; a more strategic approach to cooperation focusing on poverty reduction; new economic and trade partnerships; and improved financial cooperation.

Compared with the previous Lomé Conventions, the new framework for cooperation puts much more emphasis on the political dimensions of development and fosters a pluralistic approach to partnership. This, in turn, opens a range of new opportunities to support democratic decentralisation processes as well as the involvement of ACP local government actors. The new Cotonou Agreement indeed promotes: participatory development (Art 2); a multi-actors perspective (Art 6-58); political dialogue (Art 8-9); decentralisation (Art 33); social development (Art 25) and the institutionalisation of decentralised cooperation (Art 70-71).

Alongside the Agreement is a financial protocol. Covering each five-year period, this indicates the total resources that are available to the ACP through the European Development Fund (EDF) and channelled through two instruments:

· Grants to support long-term development (through the national and regional indicative programmes [NIP/RIP], and Intra-ACP fund)

· The Investment Facility.

The Cotonou Agreement provides for a revision clause which foresees that the Agreement is adapted every five years. The 1st revision of the Agreement in June 2005 further clarified the recognition of local government as a distinct and key actor and partner in development cooperation (Art 4) that is eligible for EDF funds (Art 58).

In this new context of development policy and practice, local government are entitled / encouraged to participate in the ACP-EU cooperation processes, such as in: programming (resource allocation); implementation of projects and programmes; evaluation and monitoring; capacity development; access to financial resources; participation in development cooperation, trade and political cooperation. In addition, it calls upon local government to play a key role in the fight against poverty, the effective delivery of social services within the framework of the sector wide approach (SWAP), the promotion of local economic development, and the consolidation of democratic values and practices.

Since 2000, the EC supports local governance in ACP countries in the fields of decentralisation and decentralised cooperation. The community support concentrates in particular on the institutional support for the improvement of the political, judicial and legal framework of the decentralisation process and on the process of capacity building of the central, regional and local levels.

In recognising local government as key development actors, the Agreement provides support in 5 main clusters:

· Institutional development and capacity building : support to the formulation and execution of decentralisation policies; building capacity of local authorities to elaborate and implement development policy and projects; budget support to local government.

· Decentralisation of services : support to the decentralisation of services in the health, education, sanitation or transport sector; building local authority capacity to deliver, manage and maintain services.

· Rural development : capacity building to improve rural government structures’ ability to promote participatory community planning and rural economic development.

· Decentralised cooperation : micro-projects supporting local economic development, urban development, community participation or support to decentralised stakeholders, including local authorities.

· Good governance : institutional support to local authorities, enforcement of decentralisation processes, territorial development.

With all these opportunities, one can say that time has come for local government to be integrated into ACP-EU cooperation processes, much alike what happened with other non-state actors few years ago. The political climate is ripe for such a move. Undoubtedly, there is still a long way to go before this integration will be smoothly and effectively institutionalised. Yet the first building blocks of a partnership with ACP local government have been put in place, including incipient mechanisms for dialogue as well as specific support programmes. Local government themselves are wakening up to the challenge of ‘fighting for their legitimate place’ in ACP-EU cooperation, including through appropriate forms of representation at national, regional and global level.

These opportunities should facilitate local government involvement in the formulation, implementation and review of ACP-EU cooperation strategies and programmes. However in practice, most local government associations have been absent in the negotiation process of the Cotonou Agreement and its recent revision. This is mainly due to their institutional weaknesses and because they lack the structures to defend their interests in the specific framework of ACP-EU cooperation.

On the other hand, local government are responsible for delivering public services at local level, to improve people’s quality of life and contribute to combating poverty. However, most local authorities and their associations do not have the capacity to play this crucial role, and this often impacts negatively on their legitimacy. Because of this and the relatively weak institutional structures of most local governments, local government has to date not engaged effectively in the ACP-EU development dialogue and the implementation of development cooperation measures.

Providing local government with the necessary capacity at ACP as well as at national/regional level, will ensure that local government can be a true partner alongside other state and non-state actors and make a significant contribution to the development agenda, including the reduction of poverty and key international development targets.

Therefore, if properly supported and capacitated, local government can make an important contribution to the key objectives of the Cotonou Agreement as well as other international development goals (such as MDGs). Their added-value mainly resides in their capacity to act as a ‘catalyst’ of local development processes.

The 2010 consolidated version of the 2nd revision of the Cotonou Agreement is available at:

For further information: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/where/acp/overvie...