29th Feb 2024

EU pits developing countries against US

In a wide-ranging partnership agreement with the ACP (Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific) countries, known as the Cotonou Agreement, Brussels is pushing for a clause on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

It is also pushing for support for the International Criminal Court - something the EU supports but which the US has refused to sign up to.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

After almost one year's negotiations, the five-year review of the Cotonou Agreement is due to be completed today (23 February). However, ACP countries fear that the EU's demands will jeopardise their trade and development relations with Washington.

Signed in 2000 and valid until 2020, the agreement is the main legal document that binds the EU to its ACP partners covering trade and good governance. Its underlying objective is to fight poverty.

But adding the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) clause to the document as an "essential element," the violation of which could lead to the suspension of aid from the European Union, goes against that underlying objective, argue both ACP countries and NGOs.

In November 2003, the EU agreed that all external agreements made with the 25-nation bloc must include a clause against the manufacturing and stockpiling of WMDs.

"Weapons of mass destruction were not an issue or an imminent threat when Cotonou was first signed", said a senior diplomat from one of the ACP countries speaking to the EUobserver.

"The ACP agrees to its inclusion in the review but not as an essential element", the diplomat said.

"Elements of the (Cotonou Agreement) proposal are driven by Europe’s internal focus on security, and not by the fight against poverty", wrote Nathalie Legrand, lead on the Cotonou aid working group of CONCORD, a European organization of development NGOs.

"The requests of the ACP are seen as concessions to be made, while the demands of the EU are presented as non-negotiable", said Ms Legrand.

International Criminal Court

The EU is also demanding that the new Agreement, which culminates on Wednesday after negotiations began last May, include support for the International Criminal Court although not all ACP members are signatories to the Court.

"We agree to include the ICC in the document, but we do not want a strong position because some ACP members are concerned that doing so would affect their commitments with the US", the senior diplomat said.

The US has been a strong opponent of the ICC since its inception and refuses to sign on to it.

However, the ACP sees itself pushed into a corner by the EU.

"The ACP says that decisions should not be made unilaterally by the EU but by agreement. As it is, if the EU does not like an aspect, it can withdraw co-operation", the diplomat said.

Russian oligarchs failed to get off EU blacklist

Hungary failed to get three Russian and three Chinese names deleted, as the EU approved its 13th package of sanctions ahead of an anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.


Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza

Despite the high risk of dying from war, starvation or disease, Gazans are still not allowed to enter Egypt. Except those who bribe the authorities. And the EU mission EUBAM Rafah cannot be deployed due to security reasons.


For Ukraine's sake, pass the EU due diligence directive

The EU Commission's 2022 CSDDD proposal did not include provisions incorporating "conflict due diligence", they were added, after the Russian invasion, by the European Parliament and Council into the final directive text — for Ukraine's sake, vote for it.

Latest News

  1. Podcast: Hyperlocal meets supranational
  2. Von der Leyen appeals for 'new EU defence mindset'
  3. EU supply chain law fails, with 14 states failing to back it
  4. Joined-up EU defence procurement on the horizon?
  5. Macron on Western boots in Ukraine: What he really meant
  6. Amazon lobbyists banned from EU Parliament
  7. MEPs adopt new transparency rules for political ads
  8. EU nature restoration law approved after massive backlash

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us