Talks towards free trade between the European Union (EU) and Sub-Saharan African countries could seriously sour the political relations between the two continents and potentially jeopardise their Summit next April. After over ten years of negotiations, the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are due to be completed over the next few months. Failure to do so by October 2014 - a deadline unilaterally set by the EU -
Based on a new ECDPM paper, San Bilal writes in ‘This is Africa’ on the ongoing process, saying the
that negotiators seem unable to overcome. It is time to take more explicit account of the political nature and interests behind this EPA process, so as to encourage more strategic diplomacy. ECDPM also released a paper asking
Challenges 2014 series: The African Peace and Security Architecture
This week’s blog and podcast consider messages from the recent ‘Revitalising The Africa-EU Partnership’
and ‘Looking Beyond 2013: Are EU-Africa Relations still Fit for Purpose?’
conferences and argue that although the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) might have a strong track record, that’s no reason for complacency
. The APSA is seen as the most successful part of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, but as Volker Hauck argues, it inadvertently poses major challenges for the EU-Africa Summit
. There is a risk of complacency, disregard of uncomfortable past lessons and insufficient adaptation. Demographics, financing, political dialogue and synergies in current post-conflict recovery frameworks for a more coherent approach are among the challenges that lay ahead in 2014.
EU progress in policy coherence for development
The European Commission has published its report on policy coherence for development which lays out the progress made by the EU and its Member States in ensuring that their policies and actions in areas such as trade, agriculture, finance, security or migration are in line with poverty reduction in developing countries and other development objectives
. EU Member States are reporting some progress in aligning policies, particularly in committing to the principle of policy coherence for development, but the report concludes that much work remains to be done. It features a section highlighting ECDPM’s work on PCD including: Learn to walk before you run?: A review of methodological approaches for evaluating coherence in the field of international cooperation
and Insights from developments in national policy coherence for development systems: Key cross cutting issues and dilemmas.
EU-Africa relations: Building a sustainable partnership for the future?
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and ECDPM held a conference in September on future perspectives of EU-Africa relations in the run-up to the Summit that will be held in April 2014. The conference brought together some 40 senior officials from the African, ACP and EU institutions and member states. This report states the EU needs to treat Africa as a continent of opportunities instead of a continent of crises
. The EU should also clearly define its comparative strengths and value added. The issue of conditionalities was also raised as a key point of contention, with the agreement that the partnership should be based on ownership, and not on externally imposed conditionalities that have not worked in the past.
'Top-down' approach needed for EU-Africa partnership says EU official
The current Joint Africa-EU Strategy covers the full spectrum of topics and sectors, with communication at all levels following a ‘bottom-up’ approach on an informal and daily basis. But to accelerate progress in advance of the April 2014 EU-Africa Summit, a new ‘top-down’ system of communication needs to be put in place in order to focus on the nature of this partnership for development
, according to Françoise Moreau, Head of the Africa-EU Partnership and Peace Facility Unit at the European Commission in this article on Devex. The Summit will be a good occasion to provide focus to our partnership, and the EU needs to carefully look at the current structures and make sure that, at the political level, there is agreement on our common strategic goals, she says.
Africa and Europe building a destiny: private sector, civil society and food security
ECDPM has released a number of videos from the European Think Tanks conference on ‘Looking Beyond 2013: Are EU-Africa Relations Still Fit for Purpose’.
The main address was by Pedro Pires - former President of Cape Verde and winner of the 2011 Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership - on ‘Africa and Europe, building a destiny.’ ECDPM also talked to Heike Rüttgers from the European Investment Bank on supporting private sector in Africa, Joseph Chilengi, the African co-Chairperson of the Africa-EU Civil Society Joint Steering Committee and a member of the Africa Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council and the Tanzanian Ambassador, Diodorus Buberwa Kamala, on policy coherence in relation to food security.
A dangerous blend? The EU's agenda to ‘blend’ public development finance with private finance
Eurodad calls for an immediate end to the controversial ‘blending’ financing mechanisms until there is a radical improvement in accountability and transparency. The report finds that there is no reliable evidence to show that blending mechanisms actually meet development objectives. There are not appropriate mechanisms to involve developing countries’ stakeholders, which risk undermining country ownership.
There is a lack of transparency and accountability, with insufficient information made available to the public. A full and independent review of the effectiveness of existing mechanisms focusing on their development impacts is needed, including whether – given their governance failings – they are suitable vehicles for Official Development Assistance.
Private investment and regional approaches to nutrition security
Nutrition and malnutrition are extremely complex issues, and one of the approaches to tackling the problems faced by many people is to engage multi-sectoral and regional actors in dialogue. In partnership with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a meeting was held to bring the private sector, African governments, civil society organisations, the donor community, and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) process together
and discuss what works and what does not in current market-based partnerships for nutrition security, and the potential benefits of a regional approach in Africa. Video interviews in the fringes of the conference are available, including comment from UNICEF, GAIN, and representatives of the private sector who all agree that this approach is beneficial.
Time to consign today’s corporate social responsibility to history’s dustbin
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities “have not made a significant contribution to the achievement of the broader policy goals of the European Union.” That is the headline conclusion of a massive research effort to assess the impacts of CSR on Europe’s economy, society and environment. David Sogge, in this guest contribution to ECDPM’s Talking Points blog, says that the research found CSR to be ‘an illusion’, akin to the ‘Emperor’s new clothes’.
The question posed is: are these findings relevant to international cooperation policy? And yet despite the strength of the findings and the language used in the report, Sogge also notes “that the business press (let alone the wider media) has paid no attention”.
The evolution of Official Development Assistance
Official Development Assistance (ODA) has for 40 years provided the yardstick for documenting the volume and the terms of the concessional resources provided, assessing donor performance against their aid pledges and enabling partner countries, civil society and others to hold donors to account. The Institute for International Integration Studies in their new report says the ODA definition has always reflected a compromise between political expediency and statistical reality
, as such it is based on interpretation and consensus and therefore allows for flexibility. To address prevailing concerns and to inform the debate, IIIS propose an alternative measure of Official Development Effort (ODE) which could be useful in framing the post-2015 development agenda.
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