Making policies work

Commentaries overview

Our hopes for the UN Food Systems Summit

20-09-2021
  • Cecilia D’Alessandro
  • Hanne Knaepen
  • Paulina Bizzotto Molina

The UN Food Systems Summit is taking place on Thursday. It represents the culmination of an 18-month global process that has brought together UN member states, food producers, researchers, civil society representatives ...

Power, politics and inclusion in food systems: The case of Sudan

05-07-2021
  • Paulina Bizzotto Molina

There is an emerging consensus that our food systems need to change to provide healthier diets within planetary boundaries. There has been no shortage of potentially game-changing solutions proposed by the international ...

The beauty contest is over: High time to reform the European financial architecture for development

21-06-2021
  • San Bilal

Last week, the Council of the European Union (EU) finally adopted long-awaited conclusions to set clear directions on how to enhance the European financial architecture for development (EFAD). Strengthening the EFAD is ...

Mandatory environmental due diligence: What is exactly expected of companies?

14-06-2021
  • Valentina Bolognesi
  • Katrin Recke

In April 2020, EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders announced that the European Commission was preparing sustainable corporate governance legislation that would require companies operating in the EU to carry out human rights ...

Africa Day: The AU's role in African and global affairs – Part 2

31-05-2021
  • Alfonso Medinilla
  • Amanda Bisong
  • Bruce Byiers

For Africa Day 2021, commemorating the founding of the African Union (AU)’s predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), we asked our team working on African institutions and regional dynamics to share ...

Africa Day: The AU's role in African and global affairs – Part 1

21-05-2021
  • Lidet Tadesse Shiferaw
  • Martin Ronceray
  • Philomena Apiko

For Africa Day 2021, commemorating the founding of the African Union (AU)’s predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), we asked our team working on African institutions and regional dynamics to share ...

The AfCFTA: From institutional structures to private sector engagement

12-04-2021
  • Bruce Byiers
  • Catherine Makokera Grant

Despite a global pandemic and much scepticism about how you get 54 countries to bring a free trade area into being, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is now underway. Or ...

AUDA-NEPAD: Does money and focus equal ownership and trade?

22-03-2021
  • Bruce Byiers
  • Ueli Staeger

With trading having officially started under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 1 January 2021, the African Union (AU) and its member states are now under pressure to make this ...

Supporting circularity in South Africa-EU food trade

15-03-2021
  • Jeske van Seters
  • Sean Woolfrey
  • Tlale Matseke (DNA Economics)

South African wine is well known in Europe, but Europeans consume many more South African products, often without knowing. The European Union (EU) is the second largest market for South African exports, ...

Collective investment in trade and digital infrastructure: A new pathway to silencing the guns in Africa

08-03-2021
  • Jide Martyns Okeke

In this guest contribution for ECDPM, Dr Jide Martyns Okeke argues that collective African leadership and deliberate investments in boosting intra-African trade and digital transformation could accelerate the quest for silencing the ...

Connecting people and markets in Africa in 2021

08-02-2021
  • Niklas Mayer

On 1 January 2021, trading formally began in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA aims to create a continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people ...

African Union Summit and elections: Something old, something new

08-02-2021
  • Bruce Byiers
  • Philomena Apiko

With the African Union (AU)’s 34th Summit of heads of state taking place last weekend, it is a good time to reflect on what came out of it, and what the year ...

How to make 2021 the year of sustainable food systems

01-02-2021
  • Paulina Bizzotto Molina
  • Nina de Roo

Twenty-twentyone could be the year of sustainable food systems. Next week, hundreds of representatives of governments, indigenous communities, farmers’ organisations, multinational food retailers, fertiliser companies, researchers and experts, will come together for ...

Climate adaptation takes a seat at the table, finally

01-02-2021
  • Hanne Knaepen

On 25 and 26 January, the government of the Netherlands organised the first-ever Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS2021), with support from the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA). Presidents, prime ministers and leaders of ...

Brexit and development cooperation: A major connection problem

11-01-2021
  • Andrew Sherriff

The European Union and the United Kingdom start 2021 with no formal agreement for cooperation in development, and no dedicated mechanisms to promote coordination or collaboration. Both parties will be weaker for ...

A trip through 2020: How Africa-Europe relations played out

14-12-2020
  • Nina Thijssen
  • Virginia Mucchi

Like us, you probably can’t wait for 2020 to be over. It’s been an intense year full of plot twists that have definitely left their mark on how the world goes round ...

Is international anti-corruption best on the front page or under the radar?

07-12-2020
  • Martin Ronceray

With International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December, it is again time for renewed commitments to fighting corruption. This year it is made more salient by the need to ensure integrity in health ...

How the EU can step up its support to conflict prevention and peacebuilding

07-12-2020
  • Andrew Sherriff
  • Volker Hauck

Conflict prevention and peacebuilding (CPPB) is more needed than ever, given a rising number of violent conflicts in the world. While most of these conflicts take place at sub-national levels, many also ...

Germany and South Africa together can protect and advance the women, peace and security agenda

12-10-2020
  • Sophie Desmidt

While the world ‘celebrates’ the 20th anniversary of UN security resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, Sophie Desmidt is less impressed with progress made. In her latest commentary, she calls on ...

The AU-EU Summit didn’t prove immune to COVID-19 – but that may be a blessing in disguise

14-09-2020
  • Geert Laporte

This year was supposed to be crucial for Africa-Europe relations, culminating in the sixth AU-EU Summit, scheduled for 28 and 29 October in Brussels. But then COVID-19 happened. After a long palaver, ...

A summer like no other – What’s at stake in critical EU external policy processes

06-07-2020
  • Alexei Jones
  • Alfonso Medinilla
  • Andrew Sherriff

Unusually worried you may miss some big policy developments over the summer? July and August are traditionally quiet months for the European Union (EU), but this will be a summer like no ...

Following the money: Why a COVID-19 marker might not help

29-06-2020
  • Mariella Di Ciommo
  • San Bilal

The EU is putting forward the idea of a COVID-19 marker on aid data to track the unprecedented mobilisation of resources to tackle the crisis globally. Rather than such a marker, the ...

The China-Africa summit on COVID-19: Geopolitical and economic considerations

22-06-2020
  • Lidet Tadesse Shiferaw
  • San Bilal

While the EU weeps over the slow progress in the preparation of the EU-Africa Summit in October – partly slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic – China and African leaders held an ...

Is meaningful inclusion the next frontier in women in mediation in Africa?

22-06-2020
  • Lidet Tadesse Shiferaw
  • Sophie Desmidt

Last week, ECDPM organised a panel during a three-day online consultation on the next European Union (EU) guidelines for mediation and mediation support. With over 700 participants, we virtually put our heads ...

How to avoid the aid trap in the AU-EU strategic relationship

15-06-2020
  • Fernando Jorge Cardoso

COVID-19 has had far-reaching effects all over the world, the most visible of which on the world economy and public health. Could it also have an impact on Europe-Africa relations? With an ...

EU development cooperation in sub-Saharan Africa: What did we learn?

08-06-2020
  • Alexei Jones
  • Katja Sergejeff
  • Pauline Veron

Together with our colleagues from DIE, we recently completed an ambitious study for the evaluation department (IOB) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands on EU development cooperation with sub-Saharan ...

Eight ways the European Investment Bank can help tackle climate change in Africa

11-05-2020
  • Pamella Ahairwe
  • San Bilal

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has set off to become the EU climate bank, after having pioneered the green bonds market over a decade ago. Now, in this new leading role, the ...

Testing the relationship: China’s ‘Corona diplomacy’ in Africa

11-05-2020
  • Lidet Tadesse Shiferaw

As the coronavirus pandemic puts an accent on the geopolitical dynamics among powerful states, China has stepped up its support to Africa’s fight against the virus – arguably not only out of ...

To circularity and beyond: A comprehensive EU strategy for textiles

27-04-2020
  • Jeske van Seters
  • Nadia Ashraf

In March this year, the European Commission launched its new circular economy action plan for a more sustainable and greener Europe. The plan prioritises seven sectors, including – to no one’s surprise ...

Now more than ever: European businesses and due diligence in times of Corona

20-04-2020
  • Jeske van Seters
  • Nadia Ashraf

Because of COVID-19, many European companies are understandably focusing on their financial figures and the safety and wellbeing of their direct employees. Given the gravity of the crisis, the larger supply chain ...

The new EU visa code and what it means for African countries

06-04-2020
  • Amanda Bisong

With global restrictions on mobility being imposed by governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Union (EU) also banned non-essential travel from third countries into the EU area. However, prior ...

Can COVID-19 create momentum for sustainable and resilient food systems?

06-04-2020
  • Cecilia D’Alessandro
  • Koen Dekeyser
  • Paulina Bizzotto Molina

COVID-19 can be a turning point towards building more resilient and sustainable societies. At this moment, global and national economies have come to an abrupt standstill. Suddenly, economic growth is not sacred ...

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

30-03-2020
  • 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?

23-03-2020
  • 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

23-03-2020
  • 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?

16-03-2020
  • 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?

09-03-2020
  • 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

25-02-2020
  • 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

24-02-2020
  • 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

17-02-2020
  • 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

03-02-2020
  • Lidet Tadesse Shiferaw
  • 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

31-01-2020
  • 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?

27-01-2020
  • 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?

13-01-2020

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

16-12-2019
  • 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

02-12-2019
  • 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?

02-12-2019
  • 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

29-11-2019
  • 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?

25-11-2019
  • 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

18-11-2019
  • 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. ...