Study for the European Parliament: “Human rights provisions in Economic Partnership Agreements in light of the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020”, by Lorand Bartels

TEPSA has coordinated a study commissioned by the European parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, and authored by Prof Lorand Bartels, of the University of Cambridge. It is now available on the European Parliament online database.

The study considers the options for suspending obligations under the EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) in connection with violations of human rights, democratic principles or the rule of law following the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020. It outlines the functioning of the human rights clause in the Cotonou Agreement, before considering the possibilities for suspending the EPAs under their own provisions, or for other reasons in international law, such as countermeasures. Next, it discusses how any post-2020 arrangements can best continue the existing mechanisms for human rights conditionality set out in the Cotonou Agreement. In connection with this, this study proposes certain suggestions for improving future versions of human rights clauses, and considers whether there are legal obstacles to the invocation of this clause under general international law, principally under WTO law. The study concludes with a set of comments and recommendations.

For questions related to European Parliament studies, contact TEPSA’s Project Officer Giulia Bonacquisti.