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 However, under the Cotonou Agreement, this system has been replaced by the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), a new regime that came into force in 2008.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 ACP-EU Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) must be specific trade agreements which, like the Cotonou agreement they have produced, are primarily aimed at ensuring the development of ACP countries and their gradual integration into the global economy. They must be compatible with World Trade Organization rules. In addition to the progressive nature of possible trade liberalization between ACP countries, EPAs must meet a second criterion, that is, asymmetry, i.e. taking into account the different levels of social and economic development between the European Union and the ACP countries. At the same time, the European Union will help ACP countries and companies implement the necessary structural and macroeconomic reforms by building capacity to better meet the challenges of competition and globalisation. For the East and Southern Africa region, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zimbabwe and Madagascar signed an EPA in 2009.
The agreement has been implemented on an interim basis since 14 May 2012. The EU will work towards a comprehensively revised agreement, based on a common basis at THE ACP level, in conjunction with three bespoke regional partnerships for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. The aim of this procedure is to return to a normal relationship between the partners. In the absence of an agreement, the party that initiated the process can take action on cooperation projects and development assistance. Twenty-five years of cooperation have shown that aid, even if it allows developing countries to survive, cannot create development. On the other hand, trade is a key development factor. The Cotonou agreement promotes, among other things, the strengthening of true economic partnership through new trade agreements. The group has made enormous efforts to attract foreign investment and has therefore sought to create a favourable legal, economic and political environment to achieve this goal. In order to adapt to the new challenges, the agreement was revised in 2005 and 2010 to focus more on this point: the Council gives the Commission a mandate to negotiate these agreements and must sign the final agreement as soon as it is concluded. The EU and the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) have governed their relations since 1975 through a series of partnership agreements.
The most recent is the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which expires in 2020. Although formal negotiations on a new partnership will not begin until 2018, the future of the ACP-EU partnership has been the subject of intense discussion for several years. The implementation of the Cotonou agreement has been extended until December 2020. The agreement was originally due to expire in February 2020, but as negotiations on the future agreement are still ongoing, this has been delayed until the end of the year. Goals The ACP-EU dialogue on migration and development was launched following the revision in 2010 of the provisions of Article 13 on migration of the 2000 Cotonou Agreement. In June 2010, the ACP-EU Council issued a joint declaration on migration and development, which sets out three pillars for strengthening cooperation and dialogue: migration and development, legal migration and irregular migration. The Cotonou agreement expires in 2020. A new agreement is being considered between the EC and OACPS, which succeeds the CPA. Pending the conclusion of the new agreement, the ACP-EU MDM will be suspended from 2020.