20 Apr 2023

The EU-Africa partnership and development aid: Assessing the EU’s actorness and effectiveness in development policy

Rym Ayadi / Sara Ronco

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Development aid is considered a policy area where the EU is particularly influential. This CEPS In-Depth Analysis report provides an overview of the evolution of global and European governance in development policy and relations with the African continent. Exploring the period 1995-2021, the research highlights how global governance in development aid and relations with Africa have evolved in terms of both the tools used and the actors involved during the last decades.

As supported by the EU, another important pattern is the shift from traditional official development assistance (ODA) to public-private financial frameworks, and from financing development projects to financing investment for infrastructure development.

Assessing the dimensions of the EU’s actorness over time reveals an increasing trend, notably concerning its authority, autonomy and cohesion. However, more external dimensions of actorness (such as the opportunity to act and recognition) show a decreasing trend over the time period studied.

The need for coherence is one of the main challenges facing the EU if it is to increase its actorness and effectiveness in development policy and its relations with Africa. Future EU policies on migration issues will also play a critical role in the EU’s actorness vis-à-vis Africa.

Another challenge will be for the EU to maintain its key role as a development actor, better coordinating its development agencies and financial institutions (both national and international) to implement and coordinate public-private partnerships, co-guarantee schemes and collaborative blended finance platforms.

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, the report moves beyond observing the characteristics of the EU as an actor to explore its actorness/effectiveness over time in a specific policy domain – in this case, development policy.