20 Apr 2023

Driving progress forward: EU actorness on the Sustainable Development Goals

Andrea Renda / Chiara Del Giovane / Moritz Laurer / Ada Modzelewska / Agnes Sipiczki / Timothy Yeung / Jane Arroyo / Hieu Nguyen

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Over recent years, EU actorness has increased when it comes to legal authority, autonomy, external recognition and attractiveness, while internal cohesion among EU Member States has dwindled. Two case studies, on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and on standards for sustainability reporting, show the varying level of the EU’s effectiveness in sustainable development policy.

This CEPS In-Depth Analysis report analyses the EU’s capability to act and be effective in sustainable development governance, looking at the period from the 2000s to today. It finds that several factors will affect the EU’s ability to pursue the SDGs in the near future.

Depending on the global momentum around ambitious reforms, the EU may be able to implant its agenda into global agreements. Internal dynamics will also determine whether the EU will be able to retain sufficient authority, autonomy and cohesion to effectively project its agenda on a global scale.

This report is part of a series drawing on the outcomes of the EU-funded TRIGGER (Trends in Global Governance and Europe’s Role) project that ran from 2018 to 2022.

Using the conceptual framework developed as part of TRIGGER, this report moves beyond observing the characteristics of the EU as an actor to explore its actorness/effectiveness over time in a specific policy domain – this case, the Sustainable Development Goals.