Brussels, 9 July 2013/ ECDPM/ ACP: The European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) has published a report based on a recent informal high-level seminar on future perspectives for Africa-EU and ACP-EU relations in Maastricht.
Bringing together senior officials from both ACP, African and EU institutions and member states, as well as members of the Board and staff of ECDPM, the seminar in April provided participants with an opportunity to engage in an open and frank discussion under the Chatham House rule on emerging dynamics in the global landscape of international cooperation and their particular implications for the longstanding relationship between Africa-EU and ACP-EU.
(Pictured: Seminar participants in Maastricht/ Photo by ECDPM)
Key points
Highlights of the discussions detailed on ECDPM's Talking Points blog include the belief that future partnerships the EU cannot count on development assistance and aid to form relations. Future cooperation should make a radical shift away from the traditional donor-recipient logic. Dialogue in the future ought to be based around clearly set out agendas with each party, be it EU, Africa or the ACP, declaring their own interests. The EU should be more straight forward in expressing its foreign interests and similarly the ACP should take ownership of its agenda. In an interview with ECDPM on the fringes of the event, ACP Secretary General H.E Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni said the ACP is carrying out "reflections" on its status and how the organisation can reinvent itself to deal with changing dynamics on the world stage and to ACP-EU relations.

On the added value of the EU in international cooperation, it was broadly agreed that emerging actors currently engage in a different and more visible way with Africa. An EU perspective, however, is that this long-term engagement with its African partners will allow countries to realise their own development agenda, working bottom-up, combining economic growth with long-term capacity development and engagement with grassroots organisations.
In an interview after the meeting, Koen Vervaeke from the European External Action Service said the ACP-EU relationship was more "contractual" and Africa-EU more political: "We should not lose the gains we got from the ACP format because it is important, whereas the EU-Africa relationship is more political – and not totally effective I think we have to recognise… Let's try to keep [the ACP-EU framework] but within that framework also serve our more political interests and more diversified security interests on a more geographical basis."

In another ECDPM video, Deputy Director-General for Policy and Thematic Coordination at the European Commission Klaus Rudischhauser talks about where and how EU development assistance should be targeted. He says money should be given to those countries most in need, and that other forms of development initiatives — such as domestic resource mobilisation — should be used in upper-middle income countries. Development assistance is “seed money to drive processes, to promote reform and to assist the country in implementing those reforms.” He says that the Commission will “produce a policy document – before the summer – showing the relative contribution and importance of the various sources of financing.”

Other topics at the seminar included how to overcome the "patchwork" of overlapping policy frameworks, which are often unsustainable or ineffective; the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs); and the future of development cooeperation.
The future orientations of the ACP Group was a central topic at the 7th summit of ACP Heads of State and Government held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea last December. The Summit endorsed the creation of an Eminent Persons Group to reflect on the issues and make recommendations to the next summit in 2014. Fourteen former heads of state, former ministers and key personalities and thinkers have since been brought together to carry out this task, and were inaugurated in March.
(Photo and videos by ECDPM)
– Clem Silverman/ECDPM/ACP Press