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Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - February 2021

04-02-2021

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

International Agreements in Progress - After Cotonou: Towards a new agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific states

20-01-2021

The Cotonou partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states was due to expire in February 2020. The then ACP Group of States – which later became the Organisation of the ACP States (OACPS) – and the EU started negotiations for a 'post-Cotonou' agreement in September 2018. This time around, the main challenge for the EU is to maintain its cooperation with the three OACPS sub-regions and to continue to promote the values enshrined in the EU ...

The Cotonou partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states was due to expire in February 2020. The then ACP Group of States – which later became the Organisation of the ACP States (OACPS) – and the EU started negotiations for a 'post-Cotonou' agreement in September 2018. This time around, the main challenge for the EU is to maintain its cooperation with the three OACPS sub-regions and to continue to promote the values enshrined in the EU Treaties. At the same time, the new partnership should take into account the United Nations' sustainable development goals, the redefinition of the EU's strategies for the regions concerned, the ACP states' new ambitions and the changing balance of power at the global level. Both the EU and the OACPS have agreed on the principle of a common foundation complemented by three regional protocols. These multi-level negotiations, the coronavirus crisis and difficulties in reaching agreement on sensitive issues, such as migration management and sexual and reproductive health and rights, prevented the new agreement from being finalised by the initial expiry date set in the Cotonou Agreement. Thus, to avoid a legal vacuum in relations, the provisions of this agreement were extended until the end of 2021. After two years of negotiations, a political deal was reached in December 2020, including on the most complex issues. The European Parliament insisted on maintaining the ACP-EU joint parliamentary assembly and was successful in this endeavour; in addition, three regional parliamentary assemblies will be created in the future institutional set-up of the partnership.

The use of pesticides in developing countries and their impact on health and the right to food

08-01-2021

This study provides a broad perspective on the main trends regarding the use of pesticides in developing countries and their impacts on human health and food security. Information is provided on the challenges of controlling these hazardous substances, along with the extent to which pesticides banned within the European Union (EU) are exported to third countries. The analysis assesses the factors behind the continuation of these exports, along with the rising demand for better controls. Recommendations ...

This study provides a broad perspective on the main trends regarding the use of pesticides in developing countries and their impacts on human health and food security. Information is provided on the challenges of controlling these hazardous substances, along with the extent to which pesticides banned within the European Union (EU) are exported to third countries. The analysis assesses the factors behind the continuation of these exports, along with the rising demand for better controls. Recommendations are intended to improve the ability for all people, including future generations, to have access to healthy food in line with United Nations declarations. These recommendations include collaborating with the Rotterdam Convention to strengthen capacity building programmes and the use of the knowledge base maintained by the Convention; supporting collaboration among developing countries to strengthen pesticide risk regulation; explore options to make regulatory risk data more transparent and accessible; strengthen research and education in alternatives to pesticides; stop all exports of crop protection products banned in the EU; only allow the export of severely restricted pesticides if these are regulated accordingly and used properly in the importing country; and support the re-evaluation of pesticide registrations in developing countries to be in line with FAO/WHO Code of Conduct.

Zunanji avtor

Swagata SARKAR, Juliana DIAS BERNARDES GIL, James KEELEY, Niklas MÖHRING, Kees JANSEN

Sudan: A transition under pressure

18-12-2020

One year after its inception, the transitional government of Sudan, born out of the protests that brought down the 30-year regime of Omar al-Bashir in 2019, continues to face grave challenges at domestic and international level. The hybrid government, composed of civilians and members of the security forces, declared that peace negotiations and tackling the economic crisis would be its priorities during a 39-month transitional period leading up to elections in 2022. On 3 October 2020, the government ...

One year after its inception, the transitional government of Sudan, born out of the protests that brought down the 30-year regime of Omar al-Bashir in 2019, continues to face grave challenges at domestic and international level. The hybrid government, composed of civilians and members of the security forces, declared that peace negotiations and tackling the economic crisis would be its priorities during a 39-month transitional period leading up to elections in 2022. On 3 October 2020, the government concluded a peace deal with several armed groups. Although spurned by the main armed group in Darfur, peace negotiations made headway towards addressing persistent inequalities between the centre and the peripheries, amending originally agreed power-sharing arrangements and securing a commitment from the new cabinet to hand over the suspects wanted by the International Criminal Court. Funding constraints could however threaten the implementation of a peace deal, as long-standing structural issues, unsustainable levels of debt and crippling inflation already beset Sudan's economy, further damaged by the impact of the lockdown imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Economic concerns have spilled over onto the diplomatic sphere: under US pressure, Sudan has agreed to a rapprochement with Israel in order to secure its removal from the US terror list, a prerequisite for obtaining debt relief. This has further tested the coalition's coherence, and public support for government policies. The EU has been supporting the transition towards a civilian government and has pledged a massive rise in development and humanitarian funding.

Cash for development? The use of microcredits and cash transfers as development tools

17-12-2020

Microcredits and cash transfers are two distinct tools, but they both target poor households and individuals with cash alike. This report provides details of the latest advances in these cash-for-development tools at a time when the EU is reshaping its development finance tools for the 2021-27 period. Through a literature review, our study provides the current state of knowledge on microcredits and cash transfers. It then considers current EU support for these modalities and assesses this support ...

Microcredits and cash transfers are two distinct tools, but they both target poor households and individuals with cash alike. This report provides details of the latest advances in these cash-for-development tools at a time when the EU is reshaping its development finance tools for the 2021-27 period. Through a literature review, our study provides the current state of knowledge on microcredits and cash transfers. It then considers current EU support for these modalities and assesses this support in light of the main findings and conclusions drawn from the literature. Research reveals much evidence confirming cash-for-development tools’ contributions to poverty reduction. Furthermore, it identifies a second layer of positive economic effects resulting from their use that can be of value when determining responses to the Covid-19 crisis. Moreover, even though microfinance and cash transfers have undergone exponential growth in recent decades, their use remains very limited at EU Institution level. The report recommends that a broader and more systematic use of cash-for-development tools should be explored by EU Institutions, albeit framed within broader programming and context analysis.

Zunanji avtor

Aitor PEREZ, Nicolas AYENSA, Maricruz LACALLE

What future for the social economy?

11-11-2020

Traditionally the social economy is considered to be an ever-growing set of private, formally organised enterprises and networks that build on multiple types of resources and cooperation, with local anchorage and democratic and participatory decision-making processes. Its primary aim is not to make profit but to meet the needs of its members and that of the wider society. The social economy is active in an increasing number of sectors, and while some of its actors are small non-profit organisations ...

Traditionally the social economy is considered to be an ever-growing set of private, formally organised enterprises and networks that build on multiple types of resources and cooperation, with local anchorage and democratic and participatory decision-making processes. Its primary aim is not to make profit but to meet the needs of its members and that of the wider society. The social economy is active in an increasing number of sectors, and while some of its actors are small non-profit organisations, others are large organisations with international outreach. It generates 6 to 8 % of the European Union's gross domestic product (GDP). However, it is a driver not only of economic activity but also of normative values, such as solidarity and inclusion. Since its conception in the 19th century, it has taken on board innovation in social relations and in societal and community spheres, human development targets and socio-political empowerment. In the first two decades of the 21st century, with new risks and opportunities arising owing to the twin digital and green transformations there is an emerging debate, rethinking economic growth theories with more focus on inclusion and combatting inequality, and exploring the relevance of traditional welfare state models. This debate has intensified in the wake of the 2008 crisis, and now also as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and crisis. The social economy can play a central role in this context. While it has been badly affected by these crises, it also has the potential to mitigate some of the negative impacts. The social economy's values-based approach to the economy can enable it to generate new elements in the ecosystems in which it exists and be an important 'engine' in the immediate recovery and the longer-term possible restructuring of the economy towards more resilience, fairness and sustainability. For the social economy to be able to reach its full potential across the Member States and help to achieve green and inclusive growth with renewed welfare state models, it needs to be supported simultaneously at all levels. EU action can contribute to this. The main areas of EU intervention are: facilitating access to finance and markets, including the digital single market; creating better framework conditions, including for cooperation and cross-border activity; supporting innovation, including new business models; and developing international relations. The Commission action plan on the social economy expected in 2021 might address many of these issues.

Intra-African Migration

28-10-2020

This study provides a broad perspective of the main trends in intra-African migration, emphasising its regional variations and complex drivers. The analysis is focussed on mapping and describing the structures – routes, hubs, settlements and sites of migration within the continent – as well as identifying the relevant infrastructures that facilitate these movements – ranging from road, railway and transportation networks to social connectivities and brokerage. The analysis not only of spaces and ...

This study provides a broad perspective of the main trends in intra-African migration, emphasising its regional variations and complex drivers. The analysis is focussed on mapping and describing the structures – routes, hubs, settlements and sites of migration within the continent – as well as identifying the relevant infrastructures that facilitate these movements – ranging from road, railway and transportation networks to social connectivities and brokerage. The analysis not only of spaces and flows, but also of infrastructure within these networks shows that there is a multiplicity of interrelations, interconnections and interdependences that need to be captured and understood in order to address both the potential and problems for intra-African migration. By grasping the ‘big picture’ of intra-African migration, policies and activities generated by both the African Union and the European Union will be capable of providing comprehensively integrated and tailored responses. Recommendations are directed towards: improving knowledge of the many structures and infrastructures, along with their articulations and functioning; identifying the negative and positive aspects of migration conducive to sustainable development; and addressing the present Africa-Europe polarisation of views through diplomacy and monitoring.

Zunanji avtor

Cristina UDELSMANN RODRIGUES, Jesper BJARNESEN

Four EU scenarios for governance in a post Covid-19 world

26-10-2020

Scarcity of medical equipment during the COVID-19 crisis, and the ensuing discussion on ‘reshoring’ certain industries back to Europe, have brought back an old dilemma. Namely, countries wish to be strategically independent while depending on products and resources from other countries to fulfil their economic needs. This reflects the debate about whether markets or governments are better at delivering solutions. We can also define this debate as a choice between ‘competitive capitalism’ and ‘strategic ...

Scarcity of medical equipment during the COVID-19 crisis, and the ensuing discussion on ‘reshoring’ certain industries back to Europe, have brought back an old dilemma. Namely, countries wish to be strategically independent while depending on products and resources from other countries to fulfil their economic needs. This reflects the debate about whether markets or governments are better at delivering solutions. We can also define this debate as a choice between ‘competitive capitalism’ and ‘strategic autonomy’. Calls for strategic autonomy have increased since the COVID-19 crisis, at national and EU level. However, strategic autonomy conflicts with the achievements of international cooperative governance. This introduces another dilemma: the choice between interests and values. Pursuing interests alone leads to a vicious cycle of increased competition between markets and between states, ultimately deteriorating into imperialism. Developing value-oriented actions at government and market level can break that vicious cycle. Value-oriented concepts already form part of many EU policies, which place substantial emphasis on environmental and social rights. When ethical values become an integral part of business and government decisions, this is called ‘due diligence’. We can define value-oriented international cooperation between governments as ‘cooperative governance’. Similarly, we can define ethical and value oriented action by private actors — whether NGOs or businesses — as ‘ethical capitalism’. Putting the two dichotomies on a grid creates a model of four possible scenarios for action which can aid our understanding of ongoing discussions on governance in a post COVID-19 world. EU policy makers could also use these scenarios as alternative ways of shaping EU and foreign policy. The management of natural resources, ranging from water, land, forests, energy resources and metals to rare earths, shows a counter-clockwise development through the scenarios. Moving away from unregulated markets, extraction and use were gradually regulated by national governments, who competed against each other in an imperialist setting. The transnational nature of economic and environmental problems has increasingly brought them into the scope of international cooperative governance. Ethical capitalism (changing market forces from within) is a relatively new development complementing government action. Progress through the scenarios is not always sequential: actors face pressures to switch between them. We can draw lessons for governance in a post COVID-19 world from the experiences of natural resources management. This study is the first on ´global trends in external policies´, aiming to develop forward-looking and strategic analyses.

World Food Programme: Food for peace

15-10-2020

On 9 October 2020, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) 'for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict'. Adding to a worrying rise in food insecurity, the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have pushed millions more people to the brink of famine. The WFP's ...

On 9 October 2020, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) 'for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict'. Adding to a worrying rise in food insecurity, the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have pushed millions more people to the brink of famine. The WFP's expertise on emergencies, often in conflict areas, has provided relief to the most fragile populations. The EU supports the WFP through funding, knowledge-sharing, and protecting its vessels from piracy in certain waters.

International Agreements in Progress - After Cotonou: Towards a new agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific states

12-10-2020

The Cotonou partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states is due to expire at the end of 2020. The then ACP Group of States – which later became the Organisation of the ACP States (OACPS) – and the EU adopted their negotiating mandates in May and June 2018 respectively, thus starting negotiations for a 'post-Cotonou' agreement in September 2018. The main challenge for the EU is to maintain its cooperation with the three OACPS sub-regions ...

The Cotonou partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states is due to expire at the end of 2020. The then ACP Group of States – which later became the Organisation of the ACP States (OACPS) – and the EU adopted their negotiating mandates in May and June 2018 respectively, thus starting negotiations for a 'post-Cotonou' agreement in September 2018. The main challenge for the EU is to maintain its cooperation with the three OACPS sub-regions and to continue to promote the values enshrined in the EU Treaties. At the same time, the new partnership should take into account the United Nations' sustainable development goals, the redefinition of European strategies in the concerned regions, the new ambitions of the ACP states and the changing balance of power at the global level. Both the EU and the OACPS have agreed on the principle of a common foundation complemented by three regional protocols. These multi-level negotiations and the ongoing discussions on the next EU multiannual budget prevented the new agreement from being finalised by February 2020, the initial expiry date set in the Cotonou Agreement. Thus, in order to avoid a legal vacuum in relations, the provisions of the latter have been extended until the end of 2020. Negotiations are now in their final stages, however some complex issues remain to be solved, among which the institutional setting of the partnership, including the future of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. Fifth edition. The ‘International Agreements in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the process, from initial discussions through to ratification. To view earlier editions of this briefing (in French), please see the EPRS blog, https://epthinktank.eu/2018/07/09/le-futur-partenariat-de-lunion-europeenne-avec-les-pays-dafrique-des-caraibes-et-du-pacifique-international-agreements-in-progress/.

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