No quick solutions for European foreign and development challenges


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The start of 2016 leads us into a new era in international cooperation, but time is not on our side.

The migration and refugee crisis, global and local terrorism, violence and fragility in the European Neighbourhood and beyond – all triggered by or mixed with the very visible impacts of climate change – are stark reminders that action on multiple fronts cannot be postponed.

The challenges of poverty and development, conflict, fragility and climate change are interconnected and need to be tackled together. We need to look to the root causes of these crises and collective action is required at the global level.

A new paper –Galvanising action for the Global Goals – from the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) looks at the big challenges and opportunities facing Europe and Africa in 2016 following the global agreements reached last year on sustainable development goals and climate change .

“The temptation may be to look for immediate solutions – but there are no quick or easy answers.  A more systematic, careful and comprehensive approach is needed.” explained Dr. James Mackie, a senior advisor at ECDPM.

Four major conferences in 2015 set out a package of global agreements on trade, development financing, climate change and the universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“To exploit the full potential of these vital processes, strong political backing will be required. These four global agreements have set out the beginning, not the end, of a long and challenging road.” continued Mackie; “They provide a strong foundation for collective action upon which the EU along with others can build.”

They tie into several ongoing major foreign policy rethinks in EU institutions:

  • A new global strategy for foreign and security policy
  • A review of the European Neighbourhood Policy
  • A potential revision of the EU’s development policy framework
  • An upcoming mid-term review of the EU’s multiannual financial framework and the external action financing instruments

EU-Africa relations are likely to evolve too. New leaders will take office at the African Union Commission (AUC) in 2016 providing a new opportunity to further  strengthen European and African cooperation on these urgent issues.

And the end of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2020 means that  the EU and its partners in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) countries have to  consider what comes next. Though still four years away, rethinking one of Europe’s most important and long-standing global partnerships needs time and evidence for a well informed debate.

“The relationship between the EU and its partners is fundamentally changing with the backdrop of the UN Global Goals – business as usual is no longer an option:” said Mackie.


Expert available for interview:

Dr James Mackie, Senior Advisor at ECDPM

Speaks: English and French

Notes for editors

The European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) is an independent foundation, which aims to facilitate efforts to revitalise and deepen relations between Europe and Africa beyond aid. It has been working on EU-Africa relations for over 25 years.

Galvanising action for the Global Goals: Challenges for EU-Africa relations in 2016 is available online now at

Please see ECDPM’s Challenges dossier for more information and a series of blogs by Neven Mimica (European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development), Kitty van der Heijden (Director of the World Resources Institute) and Richard Munang and Robert Mgendi (Africa Regional Climate Change Programme at the United Nations Environment Programme)

Cross-cutting TopicsChallengesEurope