Since 1975 the so-called Lomé conventions (the first agreement was signed in Lomé, the capital of Togo) have constituted the most significant part of the European Union's relations with the Third World. They have been heralded by EU officials as showpieces of development assistance. These aid and trade agreements are of major importance for the development efforts of a large number of countries - 46 in 1975, 71 today - in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). In the 1990s proposals for radical change were introduced and these were seen as threatening the traditional foundations of the Lomé agreements. After long, tortuous negotiations a new agreement was agreed upon in February 2000. The new convention, signed by the parties in Cotonou later the same year, bears witness to novel ideas but is nevertheless a continuation of the traditional EU- ACP 'partnership'.
The aim of this chapter is to analyse the post-Lomé agreement, and the processes leading up to it, using a negotiation perspective. It will explain the contents of the agreement, and the changes that have taken place since the previous agreements, by highlighting major elements of the bargaining situation facing the parties and how this situation has developed over time.
The argument contained herein includes two basic contentions. The first is that, in general, the Lomé negotiations reflect the impact of norms and identities and not only the effects of traditional bargaining power. Norms play an important role in forming EU negotiation positions and EU responses to ACP initiatives. It is argued that a gradual transformation has occurred in EU-ACP relations. The moral norms and powerful self-images that created a European identity in relation to the former colonies - and emphasized concepts of partnership and obligations - have been weakened, while other norms, stressing liberalism and democratization, have become more influential in the negotiations. The normative basis for EU policy towards the Third World has been thoroughly reshaped. The result is the introduction of World Trade Organization (WTO) compatible free-trade rules and stricter conditionality. The partner identity, institutionalized into the EU aid-providing machinery, has however acted as a bulwark against total disruption of the tradition-bound Lomé relationship.