New EU development policy

Chris Simoens
10 February 2017
The European Union is updating its development policy based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also intends to give its partnerships with ACP countries (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific) a new élan from 2020 onwards.

The SDGs offer a comprehensive framework in which all countries commit themselves to eradicating poverty and working towards sustainable development by 2030. The EU played a decisive role in the development of the SDGs, and intends to do everything necessary to achieve them.

That is why the EU development policy ('EU consensus on development') has been adapted to the SDGs, specifically around three strands:

1.    Doing more

The EU will place more focus on key issues such as gender equality, youth (education, entrepreneurship, real jobs, etc.), investment, sustainable (renewable) energy and climate action. The role of development in globally-intertwined problems will take a more prominent place. For example, development can contribute towards stable peace and good governance, and help towards managing migration by tackling its root causes.

2.    Doing it better

The EU is working towards a better coordination of development actions with Member States. It will place more emphasis on results and policy coherence. Indeed, interventions in one area have an impact in other areas.

3.    Doing it differently

Development goes further than 'Official Development Aid' (ODA). For example, partner countries need to increasingly generate their own incomes (taxation), and spend funds efficiently. Investment on the part of the private sector can also contribute towards development. The least developed and most fragile countries admittedly have more need for pure assistance, but the EU intends to forge partnerships with middle-income countries based on technical support, knowledge sharing and best practice.


The EU also intends to renew its partnerships with the 78 ACP countries from 2020 onwards. The ACP partnership is enshrined in the so-called Cotonou Partnership Agreement (2000-2020). The objective was to help construct peaceful, well governed, prosperous and resilient neighbouring countries at the frontier of the EU.

Among other things, the ACP Partnership resulted in better mutual understanding, more peace on the African continent, less poverty, greater food security, and increased trade between both parties involved.

The SDGs will inspire new aspects in the partnership, with an emphasis on climate change, sustainable energy provision, the anchoring of democracy, new economic opportunities and migration. The neighbouring regions of the ACP countries will receive more attention.

The EU development policy forms an integral component of the EU 'Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy'. Belgium welcomes this integrated approach, and is delighted that Belgian policy priorities are incorporated to a significant extent.

More information can be found at!Gr93CX



European Union Belgian Development Cooperation Development policy Sustainable Development Goals
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