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Discussion Papers (series)

Blurred lines: Cases of EU development and commercial instruments for matchmaking

Discussion Paper 188

May 2016

Große-Puppendahl, S., Byiers, B., Bilal, S. 2016. Blurred lines: Cases of EU development and commercial instruments for matchmaking. (Discussion Paper 188). Maastricht: ECDPM.

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This study takes a closer look at three European private sector support programmes – EuroMed Invest, AL-INVEST in Latin America, and the Enterprise Europe Network – with a strong focus on matchmaking, two of which represent development cooperation and one of which has explicitly commercial objectives. The study aims to better understand their potential to serve development interests while trying to seek an answer to the following research question: what are the lessons to be learnt from development and commercial EU matchmaking instruments to engage business for development?

This case study is not intended to be an assessment or evaluation of those matchmaking instruments, but rather aims at a better understanding of their objectives, synergies and differences as well as challenges and limitations. This can help to inform policy makers, those implementing and managing the projects and final beneficiaries to make better use of such instruments as well as better leverage private sector activities for development objectives. It additionally provides insights into whether the considered examples can be replicated in sub-Saharan Africa.

Key messages

  • The lines between EU development cooperation and commercial objectives in business matchmaking support programmes are increasingly blurred and despite an institutional division of labour among DGs, underlying objectives and approaches are similar.
  • The EU aims to include its own commercial intentions in development cooperation approaches. But some programmes have moved towards a more classical private sector development approach. Others have been ahead of EU policy, using ODA funding to foster economic cooperation and business exchange.
  • To date, commercial matchmaking particularly focused on regions outside Sub Saharan Africa. DG GROW’s Enterprise Europe Network recently welcomed Cameroon and Nigeria, exemplifying a potential changing mindset towards Sub Saharan Africa.
  • There is a need to more consistently include principles of development and sustainability across commercial and development cooperation matchmaking instruments that ensure inclusiveness; sustainability; and adequate results and measurement indicators.

Read Discussion Paper 188:

Download (PDF, 1.21MB)

Photo: Cosmos City housing development. Courtesy: World Bank – Flickr.

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

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Trade, investment and financeBusiness and DevelopmentDiscussion Papers (series)