Due to the continuing incompatibility of previous agreements with the WTO, EPAs are above all their reciprocity and non-discriminatory nature. These include the phasing out of all trade preferences established between the EU and ACP countries since 1975 and the gradual removal of trade barriers between partners. In order to meet the criterion of a non-discriminatory agreement, the EPAs are open to all developing countries, which puts an end to the ACP group as the EU`s main development partner. Opponents of economic partnership agreements argue that the agreements can benefit the more developed countries than their less developed partners. Stronger economies may be more willing to take advantage of their weaker partners, resulting in unequal benefits. According to odi.org, Economic Partnership Agreements must provide for reciprocity in order to be eligible under world trade organisation rules. This means that any action taken in favour of a particular economy must be reciprocal by that economy, which theoretically translates into the same amount of benefits for each country. In Africa, epAs support the implementation of the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, which was launched in September 2018. They are key instruments of the EU`s global strategy for Africa.
The economic pillar of this strategy identifies trade – alongside regional and continental economic integration – as important elements in promoting the sustainable development of African countries. Economic Partnership Agreements are intensive alliances signed by two or more countries that provide for mutual economic integration and participation. The agreements proved to be very popular around the world at the beginning of the 21st century, with countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Pacific joining forces to survive and compete in today`s turbulent international economic environment. As reflected in the provisions of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, the parties involved in the EPA negotiations agreed that the new free trade agreements should be first and foremost instruments of development. .