A total of 71 countries have endorsed and signed the Samoa Agreement as the overarching framework for the European Union (EU) agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

The historical official signing ceremony took place on Wednesday evening to formulate the new partnership agreement as the new legal framework relations with 79 countries. This includes 47 African, 16 Caribbean and 15 Pacific countries and the Republic of Maldives.

The agreement aims to strengthen the capacity of the EU and the ACP countries to address global challenges together.

The agreement includes a common foundation at the ACP level combined with three regional protocols for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific with a focus on the region’s specific needs.

This agreement will succeed the Cotonou Agreement and will be used as the legal framework for the next 20 years.

At the conclusion of the 46th session of the ACP-EU Council of Ministers, 71 countries signed the Agreement while the rest have until the end of this year to decide whether to sign or not.

There will be consequences for member states who won’t sign the agreement, according to Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships and EU Chief Negotiator who co-signed the Agreement on behalf of the EU.

The Secretary of State for International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Spain, Pilar Cancela Rodriguez, who co-signed the Agreement on behalf of the EU, said it was a relief to have finally signed the agreement during the Spanish Presidency of the Council.

“It is a great honour for us that the agreement can finally be signed during the Spanish Presidency of the Council, after years of work on both parts,” she said.

“The new Samoa Agreement will help both sides to better address global challenges together and will reinforce bilateral cooperation in a wide range of aspects, from trade, climate to peace and security, in the upcoming two decades.

“This is a difficult time for joint global action and multilateral approach. But this agreement shows that very large and diverse groups of countries can agree on concrete steps to deepen their partnership for building a joint future. It makes me and the European Union that I represent here hopeful.”

EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Urpilainen shared similar sentiments.

“I am satisfied that our long journey has come to a successful end with the signing of the Samoa Agreement,” she said.

“It will provide a modernised framework to revitalise our relations with the largest grouping of partner countries to provide a platform for dialogue and coordination to face the challenges of our times together. We will do everything to harness the collective power of our four regions.

“The EU and its Member States –as Team Europe – have launched ambitious investment packages under Global Gateway across all three regions and we push forward to implement these packages.”

The new Partnership Agreement lays down common principles and covers priority areas such as human rights, democracy and governance, peace and security, human and social development, inclusivity, sustainable economic growth and development, environmental sustainability and climate change as well as migration and mobility.

The provisional application of the Agreement will start on 01 January, 2024.

The Agreement will enter into force upon consent by the European Parliament and ratification by the Parties, i.e. all EU Member States and at least two thirds of the OACPS Members.