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Prospects for supporting regional integration effectively: An independent analysis of the European Union’s approach to the 11th European Development Fund regional programming

Discussion Paper 192

June 2016

Herrero Cangas, A., Gregersen, C. 2016. Prospects for supporting regional integration effectively: An independent analysis of the European Union's approach to the 11th European Development Fund regional programming. (Discussion Paper 192). Maastricht: ECDPM.

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This study follows on from and complements ECDPM’s analysis of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) national programming experience published in September 2015. The 11th EDF regional programmes are the European Union’s (EU) main instruments for supporting regional integration in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) region. By reviewing the EU’s regional programming process, this study sets out to reveal how the EU and its ACP partners approached the challenges of supporting regional integration.

The EU is redefining its global foreign and security strategy, and rethinking the role played by development policy in this. There is also recently the decision to revise the European Consensus on Development. The EU needs to ensure that its development policy is fully integrated with its external action and is in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and EU commitments on climate change, thus ensuring coherence between domestic and external policies. Given the importance of the EU as a political and financial sponsor of regional integration, these developments will also indicate the extent to which the EU is planning to continue to prioritise this area in the future.


Key messages


  • Regional integration is one of the cornerstones of the EU’s development and international cooperation policy and is an area where the EU is seen as having a real added value and know-how in its cooperation with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
  • Learning from the past was one of the key drivers behind the EU’s new approach to supporting regional cooperation in the 11th European Development Fund programming
    process. Innovations introduced were mostly geared to addressing aid management problems, but it is unclear how and whether they will maximise impact on regional integration.
  • The EU adopted a prescriptive and normative programming approach, which excluded relevant ACP actors throughout critical stages of the process. This approach is difficult to reconcile with the principles of ownership and co-management underpinning the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.
  • To effectively support regional integration in the future, the EC systems, incentives and capacities guiding programming need to be geared towards producing higher impact rather than higher disbursement rates. This will require, among others, ensuring that future programming is informed by a more sophisticated analysis of what drives or hinders regional integration in the different regions, countries, and sectors.

Read Discussion Paper 192


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Our Briefing Note 89 presents the key findings of this study.


In addition to structural support by ECDPM’s institutional partners Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland, this publication also benefits from funding from the Department for International Development (DFID), United Kingdom.

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European external affairsEU Development Policy and PracticeRegional IntegrationDiscussion Papers (series)Cotonou AgreementEuropean Development Fund (EDF)