Making policies work

Blog overview

Migration, mobility and COVID-19 – A tale of many tales

  • Amanda Bisong
  • Anna Knoll

The crisis sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed existing migration debates in Europe, yet is inextricably linked with mobility and movement and its governance within the EU and globally. The current ...

Will European public opinion on international cooperation change in the face of COVID-19?

  • Katja Sergejeff

European public opinion seems to react quickly to perceived crises of the day, but past opinion polls show that support to international cooperation remains stable even in times of crises. Will this ...

Turning the tables: African and European narratives in the time of Corona

  • Lidet Tadesse Shiferaw
  • Virginia Mucchi

Most of Europe is in lockdown, trying to cope with the huge implications of the battle against the novel coronavirus. Africans are following what is happening on the other side of the ...

The EU and Africa: Should, would, could… but how?

  • Bruce Byiers

An EU communication is always a strange beast. It tries to lay down new directions while building on existing commitments and instruments; to set a united, common agenda that complements but doesn’t ...

What was there to celebrate for Africa and Europe on International Women’s Day this year?

  • Sophie Desmidt

On Sunday, the world celebrated International Women’s Day. But the 8 March celebrations are not the only ones marking the importance of women’s empowerment. The year 2020 also marks the 25th anniversary ...

The African Union’s search for homegrown solutions

  • Philomena Apiko

With the sixth AU-EU summit taking place this year, and with European Union (EU) leaders busy discussing how their budget should be spent over the next period, the AU had its own ...

The state of the negotiations on the long-term EU budget after summit ends with black smoke

  • Alexei Jones
  • Pamella Ahairwe

After 30 hours of negotiations with the 27 leaders convened for a special EU budget summit in Brussels, Charles Michel, the new President of the European Council, was eventually forced to concede ...

First Kenya, now Malawi: The challenge-annul-rerun pattern in African elections

  • Martin Ronceray

Hardly any election takes place anywhere without some form of challenge to the results and fairness of the process. Following major elections on the African continent, frustrated voters and political parties often ...

Friends and money for a peaceful and secure Africa

  • Lidet Tadesse Shiferaw
  • Matthias Deneckere
  • Sophie Desmidt

This weekend, African Union (AU) leaders will be flocking to Addis Ababa for their annual AU summit. In 2020, South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, takes over as AU chairperson from Egypt’s Abdel ...

Promoting West African rice: The crucial role of coherent trade policies

  • Cecilia D’Alessandro
  • Fabien Tondel

Representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and actors from the private sector will convene in Abuja on 4 and 5 February to discuss national and regional strategies to ...

Brexit day is here – What’s next for EU-UK development cooperation?

  • Andrew Sherriff

On 31 January, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. After three-and-a-half years, some of the uncertainty around Brexit has finally ended. What we don’t know yet, however, is what future ...

New year, new aspirations for Europe-Africa relations?

  • Luckystar Miyandazi

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the new European Commission, chose to visit the African Union (AU) headquarters for her first official trip outside of Europe – this has been described as ...

COP25: The eternal challenge of competing interests

  • Hanne Knaepen

The United Nations’ 25th Conference of the Parties, more widely known as COP25, ended last Sunday, nearly two days later than it was supposed to. “I am disappointed with the results of ...

Geopolitics for dummies: Big challenges await the new European Commission

  • Chloe Teevan

“Countries from East to West, from South to North, need Europe to be a true partner. We can be the shapers of a better global order. This is Europe’s vocation. And it’s ...

Botswana: One of Africa’s most stable democracies, but where are the women?

  • Philomena Apiko

Botswana held its first genuinely competitive elections on 23 October 2019. Unlike previous elections, the 2019 elections saw a major challenge to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which has dominated the ...

Friends, partners or rivals? The UK election manifestos and the space for foreign policy cooperation with the EU

  • Andrew Sherriff
  • Chloe Teevan

Predicting the future in the twists and turns of UK politics and Brexit is for the brave or the foolish. Taking political party manifestos as a reliable guide to future international policy ...

Can the new European Commission be truly geopolitical, innovative and flexible without the right amount of money?

  • Andrew Sherriff
  • Mariella Di Ciommo

The next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the EU’s long-term budget for 2021-2027, will not be agreed any time soon. What we can expect shortly is more concrete numbers to negotiate against. Any ...

The potential of the new mining code and partnerships for sustainable mining in the DRC

  • Gerson Brandao

Its vast mineral resources make the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) one of the richest countries on earth. Paradoxically, the country is in the bottom 15 of the Human Development Index. ...

The African Continental Free Trade Area and the politics of industrialisation

  • Bruce Byiers
  • Sean Woolfrey

November 20 is Africa industrialisation day. To mark the occasion, the African Union has planned a series of activities on the theme ‘positioning African industry to supply the African Continental Free Trade ...

Limburg’s black gold, the move away from it and lessons for other countries

  • Nadia Ashraf
  • Poorva Karkare

We recently attended an event organised by ActionAid Netherlands to discuss a ‘just transition’ away from coal mining. Everything about this meeting was different from the usual (dull) meetings in large conference ...

Spirited away: The fading importance of resettlement in the emergency transit mechanism in Rwanda

  • Leonie Jegen
  • Franzisca Zanker

On 10 October, 123 refugees were evacuated from Libya to Rwanda. This is the second evacuation under the new emergency transit mechanism (ETM) set up in September by the government of Rwanda, ...

The European development financing system: A call for urgent action

  • San Bilal

As the international development community gathers in Washington, DC for the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund annual meetings, reality is hitting everyone hard. We are far from reaching the promises ...

The paradox of climate change: How Africa can step up climate action to lighten its vulnerability

  • Pamella Ahairwe

Africa is the most vulnerable continent to global warming. About 70% of Africans depend on agriculture as a source of livelihood, and in turn on rainfall to guarantee agricultural productivity. Unfortunately, climate ...

Connecting the dots for sustainable food systems in Kenya

  • Francesco Rampa
  • Koen Dekeyser

Last month, we organised a workshop in Nairobi to discuss the first report of our Sustainable Agrifood Systems Strategies (SASS) project that analyses Kenya’s southern Nakuru County food system, and identify what ...

Crafting the African response to European external migration policies

  • Amanda Bisong

Migration is a sensitive topic that leads to heated debates and political divisions in almost all countries. While several regional and continental migration agreements exist, states take final decisions on which and ...

Team von der Leyen: Time to speed up the delivery of the 2030 Agenda

  • Geert Laporte

On 24 and 25 September, heads of state and government will discuss progress on implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at a summit in New York – for the first ...

Implementing the global migration compact in EU member states: A long and winding road?


In 2018, the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the first inter-governmentally negotiated agreement on a common and holistic approach to international migration, was endorsed. While not legally ...

Transforming food systems to combat climate change

  • Cecilia D’Alessandro
  • Koen Dekeyser
  • Paulina Bizzotto Molina

Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) launched a report summary on the contribution of food systems and land use to climate change, which was approved by the world’s governments. ...

Implementing policy coherence: A challenge inherent to the 2030 Agenda

  • Fabien Tondel
  • James Mackie
  • Martin Ronceray

This week, we were in New York for events organised alongside the 2019 UN High-Level Political Forum, dedicated to implementation of the 2030 Agenda. There was a lot of talk about policy ...

Engage with Africa

  • Mariella Di Ciommo

Europe’s research policy towards the continent needs to be more tailored, and Africans need a stronger voice in it, says Mariella di Ciommo. Jean-Claude Juncker, outgoing Commission president, has called Africa Europe’s ...

Where aid for trade meets responsible business conduct

  • Poorva Karkare

I recently attended the 7th Aid for Trade Global Review, which took place in Geneva on 3-5 July. The theme was ʻsupporting economic diversification and empowerment through inclusive, sustainable development’. Naturally, the ...

Making sense of regional integration in Africa

  • Bruce Byiers
  • Poorva Karkare

The problem of African countries’ memberships to multiple regional bodies? There’s no problem. A highly anticipated coordination meeting between the African Union (AU) and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) will take place ...

Path to Zero Hunger: Cash-based programming, human-centred development and localisation

  • Dominique De Bonis

In this blog for ECDPM, Dominique De Bonis, Senior Policy and Programme Officer at the UN World Food Programme, argues that cash transfers can empower people and nations to tackle the root ...

Domestic ripples, regional waves? The future of Ethiopian reforms and their regional implications

  • Rodrigo Vaz

The recent visit to Ethiopia by EU High Representative Mogherini – the second in 2019 – has in Europe put the spotlight back on Ethiopia’s reforms since Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister ...

First thoughts on the European elections and development policy

  • Alexei Jones
  • Andrew Sherriff
  • Mariella Di Ciommo

The European elections present a new, more fragmented, although not revolutionary Parliament. The future European Parliament will deal with critical issues such as the negotiations of the future EU budget and who ...

An AU-EU alliance to defend multilateralism

  • James Mackie

A decade ago, the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) committed to ‘jointly promote and sustain a system of effective multilateralism’ as one of the four objectives of their 2007 ...

Sustainable livestock value chains in West Africa: Can regional organisations rise to the challenges?

  • Bruce Byiers
  • Fabien Tondel

Livestock production and trade accounts for a large part of the agri-food economy and intra-regional trade in West Africa. Livestock products contribute to food security and nutrition, as sources of nutrients and ...

Who’s interested in the EU’s open invitation to join a post-Cotonou Agreement?

  • Andrew Sherriff

The negotiations for the successor to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) are ongoing and, this spring, chief negotiators will likely meet again. They may then also discuss whether to encourage third states ...

Getting to grips with the regional politics of water in Africa

  • Alfonso Medinilla
  • Martin Ronceray

Cross-border water governance is a world where technical and political communities collide, where principled and scientific approaches to resource allocation cross political interests and economic stakes. For World Water Day, we draw ...

A generational divide in the fight against climate change

  • Hanne Knaepen

In this post of our ‘Challenges Paper blogs’ series, Hanne Knaepen looks at the new leaders on climate action: young people in Europe and in Africa. ‘To move towards long-term solutions’, she ...

Four opportunities to give to gender the importance it deserves in EU policy and external spending

  • Andrew Sherriff

Many think that changing the direction of the EU policy ‘oil tanker ship’ is virtually impossible and that it’s much easier to hook initiatives onto the direction it’s already heading in instead. ...

The African Continental Free Trade Area: The hard work starts now

  • Philomena Apiko
  • Sean Woolfrey

At the recent African Union (AU) Summit, three more African countries signed the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), while at least three others deposited instruments of ratification of ...

The reform engine of the African Union has started - Over to Egypt to keep it running


Two years ago, Rwandan President Paul Kagame kickstarted reforms to the African Union. As he hands over the chair to his Egyptian successor el-Sisi, many wonder what will happen to this reform ...

Europe and migration in 2019: Tough choices, conflicting priorities and existential questions

  • Anna Knoll

In the second post of our ‘Challenges Paper blogs’ series, Anna Knoll discusses how migration considerations are likely to take centre stage in a number of European policy processes in 2019, how ...

Win-win-win: Africa and Europe in 2019 should move towards solutions that benefit migrants too

  • Amanda Bisong

In the first post of our ‘Challenges Paper blogs’ series, Amanda Bisong looks at what trends we can expect to witness in Africa concerning migration issues. ‘To move towards long-term solutions’, she ...

Finding a new point of departure for the future of UK-EU development cooperation after Brexit

  • Andrew Sherriff

On Tuesday 15 January, the draft withdrawal agreement – the result of 18 months of intense negotiations between British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government and the European Union – was flatly rejected ...

The European Union and the United Nations need each other more than ever

  • Andrew Sherriff
  • Pauline Veron

In the past few months, the EU institutions have consistently expressed their support to the UN and its reform, in the face of a rapidly changing world. At a time when commitments ...

EU competition law and sustainability coming together

  • Jeske van Seters

A recent conference organised by the Fair Trade Advocacy Office and hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee on competition law and sustainability brought together two communities that don’t often meet. ...

Preserving ecosystems in Africa: Reflections from COP24

  • Romy Chevallier

This is a guest contribution from Romy Chevallier, Senior Researcher in the Governance of Africa’s Resources programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). I spent the past week in ...

What has thinking and working politically ever done for us?

  • Bruce Byiers

Development is nothing if not political. Yet development policy and interventions are often premised on a purely technical basis, leading to frustration or surprise when things go awry. That was kind of ...