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Development Policy

The EU is strongly committed to providing aid and technical assistance for economic development. The Union and its member states are now by far the largest aid donors in the world. Trade relations are characterized by the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) under which developing countries are allowed duty-free exports of a large range of finished and semi-finished goods to the Union.


Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)

The Lomé Conventions link the EU to 71 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, which act as a group in a stable legal framework for development cooperation and dialogue.

Under the Fourth Lomé Convention, aid from the EU and its member states approached US$19 billion for 1996-2000 and amounted to US$15 billion for 1990-1995.

The Convention allows ACP countries to benefit from duty free exports into EU countries for 94% of their exports with no reciprocal concessions for EU exports.

The Lome Conventions also provide for the stabilization of export earnings through the STABEX mechanism and maintainance ACP countries mineral export potential through the SYSMIN mechanism.

The New Cotonou Agreement

On 23 June 2000, the Community and its Member States signed a new twenty-year partnership agreement with 77 ACP Group states thereby replacing the Lome Convention which expired.

The Cotonou Agreement replaced the Lomé Convention, which had provided the structure for trade and cooperation between them and the Community since 1975.

Focusing on poverty reduction as its principal objective, to be achieved through political dialogue, development aid and closer economic and trade cooperation, this agreement will shape a significant part of the European Union's dealings with the rest of the world. It also reflects the Union's reach both as the leading international trading partner and the world's main provider of official development assistance, with a European Development Fund of EUR 13.5 billion for the initial five-year period.