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Session Overview
Panel 104: EU International Development Cooperation Post-2020 I: Policy & Legal Challenges
Monday, 02/Sep/2019:
10:50am - 12:20pm

Session Chair: Jan Orbie, Ghent University
Location: Room 12.09

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EU International Development Cooperation Post-2020 I - Policy and Legal Challenges

Chair(s): Jan Orbie (University of Ghent)

The EU’s international development policy is currently in a process of adaptation. The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals have reinforced the EU’s position as a leading donor of official development assistance. And yet EU development policy is increasingly expected to take into account pressures from global challenges like unmanaged mass migration, terrorism and climate change. It has come to be seen as the ‘cornerstone’ policy for addressing their root causes, including global poverty, under-performing institutions and repressive governance. These challenges come at the time when a number of EU development cooperation’s key aspects and financing are being re-negotiated, such as the post-2020 ACP-EU partnership and the post-2020 European Development Fund, as well as a new multiannual financial framework from 2021. These negotiations are taking place just as the EU is suffering from a number of internal challenges which question just how effectively development cooperation will be able to react to these global shifts. Perhaps Brexit poses the most important challenge among these. The UK is one of the largest contributors to the EU’s international development spending, and as one of the world’s largest bilateral donors, it adds significant clout to the EU’s efforts. The UK has also been one of the more influential shapers of the EU’s development and neighbourhood policies in the past decades. These two panels discusses various perspectives on how the EU is reacting and adapting to internal and external challenges, with particular focus on policy (panel 1) and financing/implementation (panel 2).


Presentations of the Symposium


Irreconcilable tensions? The EU’s Development Policy in an Era of Global Illiberalism

Patrick Holden
Plymouth University

There have always been tensions within the EU’s external development policy between ethical and self-interested approaches and also between universalist and realpolitik policies. Its structural economic power and global neoliberal trends have allowed these tensions to be subsumed within its external policies. A range of factors, including the Trump administration and the rise of China, has contributed to the rise of illiberalism globally, leading to heightened geoeconomic rivalry. Brexit and the ‘migration crisis’ have directly threatened the integrity of the European Union. Concurrently, global development governance has transformed due to a loosening of the DAC regime and the expansive Sustainable Development Goals. This paper analyses how the EU has attempted to integrate its values and interests in framing its political approach and policies in this new, more challenging environment. A new realism entered EU discourse via the European Global Strategy and new Consensus on Development. There is evidence of this being applied in specific instruments and policies analysed here. Blended finance instruments are ‘dual use’ in that they can be used for more flexible development policies but also to support EU businesses more directly. The proposal to combine nearly all of the previous aid and cooperation instruments into one single legal instrument will also give the EU unprecedented flexibility to use aid funds for various self-interested purposes. However, this ‘realist turn’ is much less dramatic in the case of the EU than for other international actors.


The Challenge from within: EU Development Policy and “illiberal democracy” in Hungary and Poland

Balazs Szent-Ivanyi
Aston University

Since their accession to the EU, the Central and Eastern European (CEE) member states showed little ambition in influencing the common international development policy, with the exception of a few niche issues. In the past years however, Hungary and Poland have shifted towards authoritarianism (or, in the words of Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, illiberal democracy), and are increasingly confronting the EU on a number of policy areas. The CEE countries have expressed clear preferences towards using EU aid to stop migration, and Hungary has especially become vocal in its opposition to any form of legal migration. Other red lines, such as issues related to reproductive health, have also been put forward. This paper aims to investigate just how durable this new-found interest in international development policy will be among the CEE members, with a focus on Hungary and Poland. It also examines the areas in which they are likely to emerge as troublemakers in EU development policy, and whether they can change the course of the policy area.


Policy Commitments without Laws? Understanding the Legal Status of Agenda 2030 in EU External Relations Law

Maryna Rabinovych
University of Hamburg

The 2016 Commission’s Communication “On the next steps for a sustainable European future” stipulated the Union’s commitment to “to be a frontrunner in implementing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, together with its Member States, in line with the principle of subsidiarity”. This commitment was reflected in numerous policy changes, such as SDGs’ streamlining into all Commission’s policies as a “guiding principle” or the launch of a multi-stakeholder platform on SDGs. Nevertheless, both for the Union and Member States, the legal consequences of the Union’s commitment to the Agenda 2030 remain undefined, and have not yet been addressed in scholarship. In this view, the paper aims to analyze the legal status of Agenda 2030 in EU external relations law with a special account on the triangular relationship between EU law, international law and the Agenda 2030. The paper is structured as follows. First, it introduces the Agenda 2030 and the Union’s commitment thereto. The central part of the paper focuses on the legal status of the Agenda 2030 in the contexts of international treaty law, international customary law and international soft law. Based on the above and contemporary research on the relationship between international law and EU law, research addresses the modalities of SDG’s legal status in EU law. Concluding, the study calls for explicitizing the legal status of the Agenda 2030 in EU law in view of ever stronger fragmentation of international law and uncertainties in the relationship between international and EU law.

The Migration-Development Nexus in Africa-EU Relations: The Paradox of Free Trade Deals

Mark Langan1, Sophia Price2

1Newcastle University, United Kingdom; 2Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom

This paper examines the migration-development nexus in Africa-EU relations in the context of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). The European Commission states that the EPAs are a development friendly tool for economic growth and job creation in sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, EU officials speak of the need to deal with the 'root causes of irregular migration' by creating more opportunities for young people in African economies. There is much evidence, however, to point to the likely negative consequences of the EPAs for jobs in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in labour intensive and import-competing agricultural sectors - for example in poultry and tomato production in ECOWAS states. Accordingly, the paper points to a potential paradox: that the EU insists upon tackling the root causes of African migration while insisting upon free trade deals that will do much to create new 'push' factors for irregular migration upon deindustrialisation and agricultural retraction. In this vein, the paper posits challenges for the post-Cotonou phase of Africa-EU relations as the EPAs come onstream.

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