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Challenges Papers (series)

The end of an era?

Challenges for ACP-EU Relations in 2010

December 2009

Mackie, J., Aggad, F., Hohmeister, H., Tywuschik, V. 2009. The end of an era? Challenges for ACP-EU relations in 2010. (Policy and Practice Insights 1). Maastricht : ECDPM.

In a communiqué to mark the coming into force of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, the ACP Group suggested this ‘could spell the end of the era when Europe considered the fight against poverty a priority’ and expressed fears about ‘the disappearance of the reference to the ACP countries from the Lisbon Treaty.’3 While this may be reading too much into a small textual change to the Treaty of the EU, the ACP may well have a point if one looks more widely at the cautious manner in which the EU has been responding to recent global events.

Read Policy and Management Insights 1 (Spanish version also available)

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This Briefing paper previews some of the headline debates expected in 2010 and sketches the backdrop against which these will unfold. The aim is not so much to predict outcomes, but to situate and frame the EU debates on development cooperation so as to enable as wide a group of stakeholders as possible to follow and participate in them.

Key Messages

There are increasing calls for a fundamental review of global governance systems and efforts to ensure that institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO and UN Security Council are more responsive and accountable to developing country priorities.

Climate change, migration, peace and security, global governance and the financial crisis are all examples of global challenges that deeply affect development prospects and cannot be tackled by governments in isolation, as they affect rich and poor countries alike.

Developing countries face difficulties in keeping highly skilled people at home, especially in the areas of ICT and health. The EU’s ‘blue card’ scheme enabling highly skilled migrants to work within the EU to be implemented in 2010 has thus been criticized by ACP stakeholders. The migration issue is a serious test for the credibility of EU external action.

Conclusion

Although the global crisis at first affected industrialized countries, its widening impact has also been felt in the developing world through increasing commodity prices, falling demand for raw materials, the lack of availability of credit and through links between ACP and Western financial institutions.

A key consideration for the ACP is whether the EU will come out of this economic downturn before the negotiation of the next European Development Fund (EDF).

The challenge to reach a legally binding agreement in climate change remains on the table as one of the major issues in international affairs in 2010.

One of the key trends in EU external action over the past has been the progressive ‘regionalization’ of the Unions relations and a move towards region to region partnerships.

Two African armed conflicts will continue to dominate discussions between the EU and the continent. These are Sudan and Somalia.

Caribbean states feel that a coordinating mechanism should be put in place to ensure that their concerns are considered by the larger states at the EU-LAC meeting.

Trade negotiation will dominate the Pacific regional agenda in 2010.

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