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Involving Non State Actors and Local Governments in ACP-EU Dialogue

Policy Management Brief 13

December 2000

Bossuyt, J. 2000. Involving non state actors and local governments in ACP-EU dialogue. (Policy Management Brief 13). Maastricht: ECDPM.

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Involving non-state actors in the formulation and implementation of public policies has become a major feature of political life, both in Europe as well as in the developing countries. This reflects the emergence of new forms of ‘participatory democracy’, which emphasize the need for a more consensual way of making policy through dialogue with all key stakeholders. The expected benefits of such a deliberative process of policy formulation are manifold: increased ownership, new public-private partnerships, consolidation of democratisation, and improved sustainability.

This approach to policy formulation has also been introduced in the Partnership Agreement between the EU and the ACP, signed in Cotonou in June 2000. The new Agreement creates promising legal opportunities to ‘mainstream’ the participation of civil society and local governments in the political dialogue and in the formulation and implementation of future ACP-EU cooperation policies and programmes. The new Partnership Agreement defines ‘non-state actors’ as the private sector, the social and economic partners, including trade union organisations, and civil society in all its diversity. Local governments are also considered to be “actors” of cooperation, albeit included under the heading “State (local, national, regional).” 

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These “non-state actors” are likely to influence future trade negotiations (as the WTO meeting in Seattle illustrated) and follow-up sessions of major international conferences (on social or environmental issues). Other international agencies are also searching to establish meaningful ways of dialogue with civil society. Examples are national processes to formulate a “Comprehensive Development Framework” (CDF) or a “Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper” (PRSP).

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African institutionsEuropean external affairsExternal Action in Global RegionsPolicy Management Briefs (series)Cotonou Agreement