Making policies work
  • Publication

    Thinking and working politically

  • Publication

    A five lenses framework for analysing the political economy in regional integration

  • Publication

    The political economy of official statistics: Implications for the data revolution in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Publication

    Politics and Power in International Development - The potential role of Political Economy Analysis

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One burning question that begs for an answer is why the EU does not use its tools of cooperation more strategically to the advancement of both its interests and values.

In this context, the EU is not your average donor. It has the means and the governance structures to create a different added value to the inputs of member states.

Many efforts to implement change failed because they did not take into account the the political and social dimensions

Political economy analysis asks where reform dynamics emerge and ultimately who or what can ‘block’ reforms that unleash the social and economic potential of developing countries.

The political economy approach shows us that governance for development arises through domestic political processes and contest between interest groups. Such an approach to governance is based not on imposing ‘good practice’, but in looking for the ‘best fit’ to the local social and political context.

In pursuing “fundamental values” the EU can act differently from other multilateral donors that are often politically constrained by domestic constituencies and politics.

With a broad range of tools at its disposal, the EU can adapt to the complexities of institutional and political realities in a longer time perspective, and in doing so it can create more coherent incentive packages for reform in its external action, acting as a knowledge hub about partner country social, economic and political processes. But so far – the consensus is that the EU is failing to fulfilling its potential role.

ECDPM focuses on the processes, the governance and the actors together and sees governance as a cross-cutting element of all development policy

From Senegal to the Southern African region, ECDPM has taken a leading role in applying political economy analysis to Africa-EU development cooperation and more recently has applied the political economy approach to EU delegations, country case studies as well as economic integration, trade and agriculture.

At the same time, the role of private sector growth in promoting development has been ingrained in development cooperation at the Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness’ and by the European Commission’s “Agenda for Change”. Looking beyond aid, ECDPM also takes a political economy analysis approach to private sector finance, foreign investment and promoting the local private sector in developing countries, in which a host of issues relating to politics, power and accountability all come into play.


Projects: political economy analysis of regional integration


PEDRO project: The political economy dynamics of regional organisations in Africa (2016-2018)

Building on the PERIA project, the new ECDPM PEDRO project will look into the political economy dynamics of 17 regional organisations in Africa. For more information on the PEDRO project, please visit our project dossier.

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PERIA project: The political economy of regional integration in Africa (2015-2016)

ECDPM’s PERIA project looked into the political economy of  six of Africa’s largest regional organisations. For more information on the PERIA project, please visit our project dossier.

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PERISA project: The political economy of regional integration in Southern Africa (2012-2013)

In 2012 and 2013, ECDPM and SAIIA partnered to take stock of key political and economic actors and factors that drive regional cooperation and effective integration in a rapidly changing global environment. Fore more information on the PERISA project, please visit our project page.

See also our topic page on regional integration.


Studies: political economy analysis of the future of ACP-EU relations


The future of ACP-EU relations: A political economy analysis (2015-2016)
The Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States will come to an end in 2020. Aiming to provide the evidence-base so necessary for the discussions, ECDPM explored Cotonou’s real impacts on the ground and how a future partnership might fit in within the new global framework. We looked at power relations, political and economic interests and incentives.

Exploring scenarios for the future of ACP-EU cooperation: An analytical tool for informed choices (2016)
This study, based on our political economy analysis of the future of ACP-EU relations, introduces, explores and critically interrogates four possible scenarios for the future of the ACP-EU partnership.