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The 2009 Lisbon Treaty introduced some important changes in EU institutional architecture, with the objective to build EU influence in promoting EU values and interests.

The Lisbon Treaty created the European External Action Service (EEAS). The EEAS holds the potential to strengthen the link between EU foreign policy and development policy, and to improve the coherence of EU policies with an external dimension. It also upgrade network of over 140 EU Delegations throughout the world.

The Lisbon Treaty also strengthened the role that the European Parliament can play in EU development cooperation.

The creation of the EEAS has required some institutional adjustments with regards development cooperation. While DEVCO and the EEAS share the competence of strategic programming of certain aid and other funding streams, DEVCO is responsible for implementing development programmes.

Now more than two years into existence, the EEAS is no longer a ‘new’ service, but at the centre of these EU institutional relationships, it is still finding its feet. Moreover, the creation of the EEAS has not yet led to an increased appetite for coordinated action by EU member states in all sphere’s foreign policy.

The dynamics of these complex inter-institutional relations have a huge impact on the nature and effectiveness of EU development cooperation.

How the EU institutions can work together to reconcile European values and interests in external cooperation remains essential to achieving its goal of promoting development in a dynamic context. The Strengthening European External Action Programme at ECDPM works to:

  • Engage with policymakers and practitioners, ECDPM monitors and analyses changes in the relationships of the EU institutional set-ups, and what they mean for development outcomes.
  • Inform EU stakeholders about the challenges and opportunities in the EU institutional architecture, the way development objectives are promoted and how a coherent EU external action is delivered through analysis and research.
  • Build on its wide network of partners in developing countries, ECDPM research provides insights for the EU’s partners to better engage and promote their development interests.
  • Facilitate informal and frank dialogue between EU institutions and external partners on all these relevant issues.