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Implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the European Union: Constructing an EU approach to Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development

Discussion Paper 197

July 2016

Gregersen, C., Mackie, J., Torres, C. 2016. Implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the European Union: Constructing an EU approach to Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development. (Discussion Paper 197). Maastricht: ECDPM.

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As part of a broader initiative, this paper aims to contribute to the reflection on the early experiences of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a focus on ‘Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development’ (PCSD). The paper is one of a collection of case studies covering:

  1. A number of OECD country experiences including the Netherlands (by World Resources Institute), Sweden (by Stockholm Environment Institute), South Korea (By Korea Economic Institute) and Germany (by the German Development Institute)
  2. Three cross-cutting studies looking into extending the boundaries of policy coherence for sustainable development (by the European Environment Agency), the transition from Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) to PCSD and lessons learnt (by the OECD) and this present reflection on the European Union’s approach to policy coherence.

Key messages


  • The EU has followed an integrated approach towards the negotiations and planning the implementation of the key UN processes on sustainable development, financing for development and climate change.
  • Halfway through 2016, the EU is still grappling with how to translate the 2030 Agenda into actions, commitments, responsibilities and accountability that respect the priorities and circumstances in Europe.
  • The EU Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) experience offers many insights into the international impacts of EU policy-making but remains largely unrelated to broader work on ensuring internal coherence. This is part of the complex transition to working with Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development.
  • Policy silos will need to be rethought within a universal paradigm of development. The single most important lesson from the EU PCD experience is that improving policy coherence is a longterm process that requires strong political leadership.

Read Discussion Paper 197


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Photo: Development or destruction. Courtesy: Todd Burrows via Flickr

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Strengthening European External ActionEU Development Policy and PracticePolicy Coherence for DevelopmentDiscussion Papers (series)Sustainable Development Goals