Struck in 2000 in Benin, the Cotonou Agreement has shaped relations between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) for nearly 20 years. The accord expires in 2020 and negotiations between the European Union and the ACP on its successor will begin in the coming weeks.
But while Cotonou Mark I was seen primarily as a trade and development instrument, the priorities for Cotonou 2 for both blocs have evolved. European countries increasingly view their relations with Africa through the prism of migration-control.
African countries are in the process of drawing up their own continent-wide free trade area and will speak as one voice in the talks. Caribbean and Pacific nations, for their part, want to see more investment and enhanced trade with Europe.
Can these competing demands be reconciled?
When it comes to increasing investment in the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries covered by the Cotonou Agreement, the EU talks a good game. But it is facing stiff competition from China, armed with more cash and fewer concerns about democracy and the rule of law when it comes to investment.
Increasing trade between the EU and the ACP (African-Caribbean-Pacific), particularly African countries, lay at the heart of the ambition of the Cotonou Agreement. That was supposed to be embodied by regional Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) with the EU.
The issue of how to control migration from Africa may have exorcised European leaders in recent years, but it could also derail the EU's main political agreement with the continent.
The African Union wants to have a continent-to-continent dialogue with Europe, a change that could make the framework of the Cotonou Agreement implode and leave the Pacific and Caribbean states out in the cold.
The Cotonou agreement has regulated cooperation between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries since 2000. With negotiations on its successor about to start, the results so far seem mixed. EURACTIV France reports.