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EDITO
Saturday, 21 October 2017

At the time of decolonisation in the 1960's and 1970's, the then EEC brought together a strange collection of former European colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific islands (called the ACP group). It was just at the time that the UK was joining the EEC, and so the group included all the former British, French, Dutch, Belgian and eventually Portuguese ex-colonies. Oddly, it did not include any of the former Spanish colonies. The ACP group was formed in 1975, and since then, the EU has paid substantial amounts of aid through the European development fund, which is replenished by its members every seven years.

The Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Southern African states has come into effect, providing for state-to-state dispute resolution, but excluding any investor-state dispute settlement procedures. The European Union’s latest trade agreement promises free trade between Southern Africa and Europe and provides a dispute resolution safety net for nations that fall into disputes between the trading bloc and its members, but leaves unchanged the existing investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) systems.

International donors yesterday (17 November) pledged $2.2 billion (€2 billion) in aid for strife-torn Central African Republic, one of the world’s poorest countries, officials said. “The positive response you have given … will galvanise our efforts and make sure our recovery plans bear fruit,” Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera said after a donors’ conference in Brussels. The pledges topped the $1.6 billion Touadera had wanted over three years to kick-start the devastated economy but were short of the $3.0 billion targeted for the five-year programme.

Major NGOs gave a guarded welcome today (22 November) to a major once-in-a-decade, overhaul of the EU’s thinking on development. The Commission – fronted in a Strasbourg press conference, in a sign of the weight it gives the issue, by foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans and Development Commissioner Neven Mimica – unveiled a trilogy of papers setting out the future of development and aid spending between now and 2030.

Yesterday, the European Commission launched a policy package that maps EU current actions and commitments to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda and lays down the future direction for the EU development cooperation and relations with Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries. The Fair Trade movement welcomes the recognition by the EU of the “strong contribution” of Fair Trade to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and looks forward to work with the EC to upgrade the EU answer to the global goals. Yesterday, the European Commission announced its new strategic approach for achieving sustainable development in the EU and globally.