In my last blog post I mentioned that we were rethinking the future of EU development policy. So why now, you might be wondering? Well, in 2015 the global community agreed a number of global commitments which changed the way we think about international development.
You might remember the Millennium Development Goals which aimed, among other things, to halve extreme poverty by 2015. In fact this was achieved by 2010 and over a billion people were lifted out of poverty by 2015.
We wanted to be even more ambitious and more inclusive with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this new global Agenda integrates the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, as well as poverty eradication. It promotes peaceful and inclusive societies, the fight against inequality, human rights for all and the commitment to “leave no one behind”.
Walking the talk
I have said before that when it comes to sustainable development, we all have work to do. Not one country, for example, can claim to have achieved true gender equality. So if Europe wants to continue to lead on the global stage, we must also lead by example starting at home.
This is exactly why First Vice-President Frans Timmermans presented our proposals this week to implement the SDGs through our internal and external policies. Development policy is an important part of this, helping our partner countries to flourish which also benefits us within the EU.
A new 'European Consensus' for development
Remarkably though for the first 40 years, there was no single unifying vision for EU development policy. The first 'European Consensus for Development' was agreed in 2005 and has been described as a major success by the OECD in providing a common framework and objectives for the EU and our Member States.
But today's world is very different from that of 2005. Not only do we have the 2030 Agenda, but also new challenges, opportunities and actors.
This is why we need a new European Consensus for Development which is fit for purpose. We need to do more, do it differently and do it better. From the beginning I wanted to make this a truly inclusive process resulting in a genuine consensus agreed by all partners and stakeholders. I'll share some more thoughts on this in a blog post coming soon.
Adapting our future partnerships
This new global and European context will mean practical changes in the way we work with our partners moving forward. One of the first opportunities to put this into practice will be through the new relationship which we negotiate with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries when the current 'Cotonou Partnership Agreement' runs out in 2020. It will be a massive task as it currently covers 79 countries and 1.5 billion people, and should focus on bringing forward interests close to the heart of the EU and our partners. This is why we also put forward our proposals on what this new partnership should look like this week.
An exciting year for 2017
A lot of hard work and consultation has gone into the drafting of the proposals. But this is just the beginning of the process. I am looking forward to constructive discussions with our EU Member States, Members of the European Parliament and all our partners, in order to reach an agreement on the way forward in 2017. Next year promises to be another exciting year for development!