Making policies work

The core aim of the Strengthening European External Action Programme is to improve the EU’s contribution to development outcomes.

The European Union (EU) carries considerable weight in global affairs as the largest trade bloc and biggest contributor of development assistance. With the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon, the EU sought to modernise its foreign policy by transforming its institutional set-up, providing the basis for a more politically, effective, coherent and visible EU on the global stage.

Nevertheless, the EU faces a significant challenge in translating political commitments into reality as it struggles to reconcile European values and development goals with its own economic, political and security interests.

This results in contradictions between and within internal and external policies, and in linking policies to actions, especially in areas like global food security, migration and tax.

With so many member states and conflicting incentives and interests the EU often fails to speak with one voice, which undermines its influence in global affairs and on development issues.

In the face of the rise of emerging economies and the rapidly shifting global balance of economic and political power, decisive action is needed by the EU to maintain its position as a leading player in international development and cooperation.

The EU needs to reduce the ‘implementation gap’ to achieve its ambitions in promoting development in its neighbourhood and the wider developing world. By being well-informed about the global, EU and African context, ECDPM can facilitate inclusive and informed policy dialogues. We focus on the process, effect and integration of development dimensions into EU external action.

Our strategy in Strengthening European External Action

The Strengthening European External Action Programme is relevant to all four major Themes of the ECDPM 2012-2016 Strategy. We engage with EU and international actors to reconcile their values and interests and support work to promote inclusive and sustainable growth, strengthen governance in development and reconcile EU internal policies.

Our Work in Strengthening European External Action

Positive change in EU policy is a collective effort. A wide range of stakeholders participate in long term policy processes that respond to regional and global trends. ECDPM has played an important supporting role at key times to empower stakeholders to effect positive change.

We contributed to the new EU policy framework for aid and development cooperation, the ‘Agenda for Change’. Our analysis accompanied the process from the initial European Commission communication in 2011 right through to the Council’s adoption in May 2012.

More recently, by working closely with a number of EU institutions, our evidence-based work contributed to discussions on EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding issues at the EU Political and Security Committee (PSC), drawing attention to the lessons learned and helped operationalise a more reflective approach to EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

ECDPM took a leading role in preparing the 2013 European Report on Development, including the most recent focusing on the post-2015 development agenda. In 2014,  we contributed again, this time focusing on financing of the post-2015 development framework.

And finally, in the key area of ACP-EU and Africa-EU relations, not only do we provide analysis of EU development policy more generally, but we also provide timely information and analysis to key stakeholders on the implementation of EU budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020, as well as the 11th European Development Fund.