The work of the ETTG member institutes covers all aspects of EU foreign, security, development and humanitarian policy. At present, the core programme focuses on three topics.
The implementation of the SDGs in the EU’s external relations
In March 2017, a White Paper on the future of Europe launched a debate on how to reform the European Union. Followed by a set of reflection papers, this process should inform reforms of key policy areas as well as the governance of the resources invested in promoting them. President Juncker confirmed in his Speech of the Union in September 2017 that this reform debate will continue until the 2019 European Parliament elections and before the new Commission takes office in autumn 2019. This reform process will include debates on the Union’s external action, particularly in the field of EU defense and migration policy.
The ETTG therefore will engage with two ongoing policy processes: First, the policy debate on the implementation of the SDGs itself, both through the EU’s external policies and domestically in selected key policy areas that have substantial outside effects. Second, the discussions on the reform of the European Union launched by the White paper on the future of Europe as well as ongoing reforms in EU external action in the context of the implementation of the 2016 EU Global Strategy.
The negotiations on the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework
The EU’s multi-annual financial framework (MFF) is agreed every seven years. It establishes the budget framework for EU financial allocation and spending, including external action such as development cooperation. All aspects of the EU’s budget are up for negotiation, just as they are when the government of an EU Member State undergoes a spending review for all areas of public expenditure.
The negotiation process for the EU MFF 2021-2027 is taking place within a complex international landscape: the wider reshuffling of the global order, widening disparities in wealth, and growing migrant and refugee flows, all pose new challenges which the EU needs to address. The new MFF will be a critical juncture for European development cooperation since it is expected to assess both the effectiveness of existing external action instruments, and the potential for the EU budget to contribute to new areas, including defence and security. However the current MFF doesn’t seem to be fit for purpose to respond to the current global challenges. In such circumstances, it is essential for the EU to rethink its place in international cooperation and equip itself with policies and funding instruments to enable it to play a leadership role.
The ETTG will engage in the debate around the next EU MFF, informing policy makers about opportunities, challenges and risks of options for future financing instrument, and questioning the extent to which development cooperation is prioritised amongst other external policies.
The future of the EU Partnerships
Partnerships are a vital part of the architecture of the EU’s external relations and a cornerstone of its engagement with developing countries. The EU Global Strategy unambiguously calls for a deepening of the EU’s partnerships to position the EU as a “responsible global stakeholder”. While broad, regional and global partnerships have always structured EU foreign relations, the position of the EU on the global scene and vis-à-vis developing countries has changed considerably over the years.
The next few years are of particular importance for the EU’s partnership agenda. The expiry in 2020 of the Cotonou Agreement, which structures EU relations with no less than 79 countries including 48 in Africa, opens a major window of opportunity for rethinking the EU’s engagement with developing countries. The renegotiation of a future ACP-EU partnership coincides with the implementation of the global 2030 Agenda and will also have a crucial bearing on the future of the EU’s relations with Africa and what can be achieved through the Africa-EU partnership in the years to come..
The ETTG and its member organisations seek to use this opportunity to strengthen the EU’s contribution to international development as well as its relations on specific topics such as peace and security, trade or migration that are managed within these partnerships. ETTG will focus, in particular, on two of these: the ACP-EU partnership and the EU-Africa partnership.