A five-point agenda for how development cooperation can support EU’s strategic autonomy

European Strategic Autonomy series - Economy & Trade

Policy Brief

15/03/2023

What are the links between development cooperation and EU’s strategic autonomy?

In this policy brief, Dr. Olumide Abimbola explores the role that development cooperation can play in supporting EU’s strategic autonomy ambitions, particularly with its neighbouring continent, Africa.

The EU and its member states have consistently been the single largest contributor to Official Development Assistance (ODA). One effect of this is that the main way the EU interacts with a large section of the developing world is through development cooperation. There appears, however, to be a reluctance among European policymakers to acknowledge the fact that the EU and its member states could implement a development cooperation policy that connects with foreign policy objectives.

This policy brief argues that development cooperation has never really been separated from national – or, in the case of the EU, regional – interests. Accepting this fact and communicating the linkage both to itself and its development partners is a critical first step for the EU to identify how development cooperation can support its strategic autonomy ambitions. This might also start a process that leads to some policy coherence within the EU and among EU institutions.

The policy brief also provides some insights into how such policy coherence might enable development cooperation to support the EU’s strategic autonomy across five policy priority areas:

  • people and skills
  • climate policy
  • critical raw materials and supply chains
  • energy policy
  • digital policy and sovereignty

In all these domains, Abimbola underlines that the EU must not over-instrumentalise its development policy for short-term political gains but instead act as a constructive and collaborative partner, listening to the needs and aspirations of African nations and adopting a framework that is mutually beneficial to Africa and Europe.

This Policy Brief is part of a Strategic Autonomy Series, you can find out more about this issue on the project webpage.

Network
Fondation Jean-Jaurès
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
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