Questioning old certainties: Challenges for Africa-EU relations in 2012

December 19, 2011

ECDPM ECDPM’s annual Challenges Paper seeks to identify important debates that can be expected in 2012 and beyond and to sketch the backdrop against which these will unfold. Questioning Old Certainties highlights key issues and forums to watch in 2012. Read the rest of this entry »


Final ECDPM report of the Workshop for ACP Ambassadors: The implications of the Lisbon Treaty for the ACP Group

November 6, 2009

The workshop ” The implications of the Lisbon Treaty for the ACP Group ” was jointly organized by the ACP Secretariat and the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) at the ACP House on the 16th of October 2009 and was held under Chatham house rules. Most of the ACP Ambassadors where present or represented at the meeting.
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Statement by Sir John Kaputin, Secretary-General of the ACP House, at the Workshop on the Lisbon Treaty and Impacts on ACP

November 4, 2009

The Secretary-General of the ACP Secretariat, Sir John Kaputin, hold a speech at the ACP House, Brussels on Friday, 16 October 2009 at the Workshop on the Lisbon Treaty and its potential impacts on the ACP Group.
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Conference in Bonn on ‘Civil Society and the Joint EU-Africa Strategy’

April 5, 2007

The European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) is organising a Conference on ‘Civil Society and the Joint EU-Africa Strategy’ in cooperation with VENRO, the Association of German development NGOs. It will take place on 23-24/4 in Bad Honnef (near Bonn, Germany).

As one of the first civil society events on this topic in Europe, this conference will bring together around 100 African and European civil society actors and AU and EU officials. The aim of the conference is to formulate clear expectations of a representative sample of key Civil Society Organisations vis-à-vis the EU and AU regarding the contents of the EU-Africa strategy and their role in it. A further aim of the conference is to identify common viewpoints and to develop recommendations to the official negotiators, so that these can be taken into account in the deliberations of the EU-Africa Ministerial Troika Meeting that will take place on 15 May in order to adopt a first outline of the Joint Strategy.

View the Draft programme (provisional)

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Contributions in French

March 2, 2007

Nearly one month after the launch, the internet consultation has received over 100 comments, spread over the five clusters. The comments are both in English and in French, and we would like to bring to your attention that you can view the comments in French on that website: www.europafrique.org

We have also translated summaries and ideas from some of the comments and posted them on this site, so please have a look at the different cluster pages for a quick up-date in English.

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Discussion note on key development issues

January 6, 2007

Context analysis

African actors, both state and non-state, run development programmes at many different levels across the continent. Local and national level development programmes are perhaps the most evident but for several decades now there has been a recognition that regional and continental wide programmes also have a role to play. This view underpins the establishment of the RECs and is also one of the basic tenets of the African Union and NEPAD. Some of the continents development challenges, such as communicable diseases or migration, transcend national boundaries and need to be tackled on regional or continental basis. In other areas such as economic development, improving regional cooperation and building integrated infrastructure systems hold out the promise of more viable regional markets which should better stimulate growth and development. In other areas again, with problems that may need to be tackled on a more national basis, such as education or service provision, there are nevertheless still lessons to be learnt from one nation to the next. Development challenges therefore need to be tackled at all these different levels but in a coordinated and integrated way wherever possible.

The EU as a whole, that is Member States and the Community, are the biggest external supporters of development programmes in Africa. But EU aid is fragmented, unevenly distributed and managed in a multitude of different ways. The EC alone has three different frameworks for development cooperation with different parts of Africa. The EU has committed itself to increasing ODA levels and improving the effectiveness of its aid in line with the precepts of the Paris Declaration on harmonisation and alignment. But there are still question marks over whether it will actually achieve these goals. Improving aid effectiveness also implies improved dialogue with African governments on the best modalities and on how to improve alignment with African driven development programmes.

The Key Development Issues cluster includes a wide variety of topics from infrastructure, through socio-economic issues such as health, education and migration, to debt and financial issues. Some of these have a strongly political dimension as well as a development aspect. Each of them can provide scope for detailed discussions. It is useful therefore to agree on a generic framework for debating each of these subjects.

Key questions

1. What is the state of the debate on the different topics in the ‘key development issues’ cluster?

The first step in such a common framework would be to carry out a stock-taking exercise of what has been achieved in past discussions and identify where the obstacles are to further progress. On this basis further dialogue can then be built.

2. How to elevate the joint debate on each ‘key development issue’ to the level of a political dialogue beyond that of a simple discussion of development cooperation?

Dialogue on development between African European actors has traditionally revolved around questions of how to move forward on cooperation and European support to Africa efforts. The preparation of this joint strategy however offers a unique opportunity to move beyond such a basic level and recognise the value of opening up a genuine political dialogue between Africa and Europe in each of these areas. On some issues, for instance migration, such an AU-EU political dialogue is already engaged, in others, such as environment and climate change, the potential is evident, but further steps could be taken to engage a dialogue on how actors in the two continents could work together to confront such challenges.

3. How can the current fragmentation of EU support (EC and Member States bilateral programmes) to African development programmes be improved?

The joint strategy could sketch out an agreed line of action to take towards improving the overall consistency of EU support to development programmes at all levels in Africa. This could cover such issues as the uneven distribution of EU support across the continent and the need to avoid disparities between ‘aid orphans’ and ‘aid darlings’. It could equally discuss the best ways of ensuring consistency between the different EC support programmes to Africa: the Cotonou Agreement, the European Neighbourhood Policy and the TDCA between the EU and South Africa. At another level the joint strategy could spell out an agreed approach on improved integration between the EU support programmes to different levels of development work in Africa from the local and national levels right up to the regional and continental level of NEPAD.

4. How to strengthen the primary responsibility of Africa in devising and leading on development programmes?

In order to improve ownership, effectiveness and impact, the joint strategy could clarify how Europe can help African institutions and actors to consolidate further their leadership on all development programmes. Clarifying points of view and agreeing on the best approaches towards alignment or the use of specific aid modalities such as general budget support could well prove useful. The implications of the principle of increasing African ownership should then be explored in greater detail in each ‘key development issue’.

5. How can the effectiveness of EU development cooperation be enhanced and the governance of aid improved?

The Paris Declaration on the effectiveness of aid has been agreed by EU member states and the European Commission as well as a number of African states. This includes important points on the timely, cost effective and transparent administration of development resources. The preparation of this joint strategy provides a good opportunity to consider how these principles can best be put into practice as far as EU cooperation with Africa is concerned and in each area or sector of development.

6. How to ensure the delivery of commitments and the monitoring of progress achieved?

Any healthy partnership recognises the importance of each party reporting on progress made on delivering on their respective commitments. To this end, agreed monitoring and review systems need to be established from the start, so as to ensure information on results is available as and when required and in a form that enables performance assessments to be carried out according to agreed modalities. The preparation of this joint strategy is an ideal opportunity to establish such agreements and ensure all parties are satisfied with the systems set in place.

One key area where Africans will be interested in monitoring progress is in the achievement of donor commitments to increasing ODA levels to meet the 0,7% of GNI target by 2015. The EU has clearly committed itself to this goal in its own Strategy for Africa. A joint Africa-Europe partnership strategy could usefully set out a common understanding of how this goal is to be achieved in practical terms and how performance is to be measured.

Download this discussion note – doc ; pdf

Return to key development issues

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ECDPM’s role

January 2, 2007

The public consultation for the Joint Africa-EU Strategy was launched on behalf of the European Union and the African Union in the beginning of 2007 and was facilitated by the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) as an independent foundation.

As part of the first phase (until May 2007), ECDPM as an independent foundation and neutral broker were asked by the EU and the AU to facilitate the joint internet consultation. ECDPM’s mandate was also to facilitate more broadly the European consultation, especially through the organisation of a civil society event, while remaining closely in touch with the AUC, which kept the initiative to start the consultation process in Africa.

In the second phase (May-December 2007) ECDPM continued to facilitate the consultation process by running the website and sharing information about the process: timetable, issues at stake, positions of the various actors, informal liaison between the various actors. The project was supported by the African and European Commissions and was sponsored by the Finnish, German and Portuguese EU Presidencies of 2006 and 2007.

Since January 2008, ECDPM is closely following the implementation and monitoring process of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy providing up-todate news and resources, organising events related to the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and contributing to the debate.

Who we are

ECDPM contributes to building effective political economic and developmental relationships between African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and Europe.

We reinforce the capacities of public, private and non-profit organisations in ACP countries – to better manage their own development policies and international cooperation. We also work with governments and organizations in Europe – to make their development policies and instruments more effective.

The Centre was created in 1986 as an independent foundation. Our main funding is provided by the Dutch Government; the Belgian, Finnish, Portuguese, Swedish, Luxemburg, UK, Irish and Swiss governments provide regular institutional support for specific programmes and activities. Staff and associates work from offices in Maastricht and Brussels; the Board of Trustees has representatives from European and ACP countries.

For more information see our website.

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