EU support to governance at a critical juncture: Will the new Strengthening European External Action architecture deliver smarter support to governance in partner countries?


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    Recent research findings, based on advanced political economy analysis, suggest that donors’ support to governance does not work because it is too normative and not smart enough. In recent years, donors, including the European Commission (EC), have become increasingly receptive to these findings. Over the past 5 years, the EC has taken important steps towards embracing a more analytical, context-sensitive, politically aware and realistic approach to governance support. However, the recent merger of two Directorate Generals, DG EuropeAid and DG Dev, has introduced some radical changes that affect the EC’s capacity to continue pushing the governance agenda forward effectively. Next week, the EC will publish a package of Communications aimed at increasing the impact of EU development policy. EU support to governance features very high on the agenda and it is expected that financial support will be scaled up in the years to come. This note suggests that the institutional reform has introduced changes that limit EU’s capacity to develop smart policies and deliver quality support to governance in partner countries.
    We argue that EU support to governance will be unsuccessful unless strong investments are made to address new gaps and institutional capacity challenges.

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