Sustainable development: Now actions must speak louder than words

22 November Nov 2016 1527 22 November 2016

As the EU sets out its priorities, European NGOs react on future European development policy

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As the EU sets out its priorities, European NGOs react on future European development policy

Today, the European Commission is setting out a strategic approach for achieving sustainable development in Europe and around the world.
A first Communication on the next steps for a sustainable European future explains how the Commission's 10 political priorities contribute to implementing the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and how the EU will meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the future.
A second Communication on a new European Consensus on Development proposes a shared vision and framework for development cooperation for the EU and its Member States, aligned with the 2030 Agenda. A third Communication on a renewed partnership with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries proposes building blocks for a new, sustainable phase in EU-ACP relations after the Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires in 2020.


European governments need to stand up for a new approach that promotes sustainable development globally as the best response to the challenges facing our continent and the world. In a first response to European Commission proposals on a new European Consensus on Development, the Confederation of European NGOs on Relief and Development, CONCORD, representing 2600 NGOs, calls for the translation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into action and will be monitoring European governments to ensure the commitments will be followed through in legally binding policies and instruments.

“Recent moves to use development aid to tackle Europe’s own migration, security and economic challenges at the expense of the world’s poorest are not the answer. Today’s proposals must lead to real action. Conditionality should not be imposed on partner countries, aid should not be spent for military purposes and investment should reach those traditionally left behind and not European companies.” says Johannes Trimmel, President of CONCORD.

CONCORD calls for European governments to stand up for its core values and will continue to press for tangible measures that promote human rights, tackle inequality and ensure gender equality.

The new Consensus has to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and represent a real transformation in the way we tackle inequality and climate change.

Johannes Trimmel, President of CONCORD

The main elements of the Commission's new, strategic approach, presented today are:

Next steps for a sustainable European future

  • The EU's answer to the 2030 Agenda will include two work streams: the first is to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals in the European policy framework and current Commission priorities; the second is to launch reflection on further developing our longer term vision and the focus of sectoral policies after 2020.
  • The Commission will use all the instruments at its disposal, including its better regulation tools to ensure that existing and new policies take into account the three pillars of sustainable development: social, environmental and economic.
  • To create a dynamic space bringing together the different stakeholders of the public and the private sphere, the Commission will launch a multi-stakeholder Platform with a role in the follow-up and exchange of best practices on SDG implementation across sectors.
  • The Commission will provide regular reporting of the EU's progress towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda as of 2017, and will launch reflection work on developing further a longer term vision with a post-2020 perspective.

A new European Consensus on development

  • The proposal for a new European Consensus on Development reflects a paradigm-shift in development cooperation under the 2030 Agenda, responding to the more complex and interconnected challenges the world faces today.
  • The proposal puts forward shared vision and framework for action for all EU Institutions and all Member States, with particular emphasis on cross-cutting drivers of development, such as gender equality, youth, sustainable energy and climate action, investment, migration and mobility.
  • The aim is to increase the credibility, effectiveness and impact of EU development policy, based on shared analysis, common strategies, joint programming, joint action and improved reporting.
  • The new Consensus should frame all development policy activities of the EU and its Member States. An example of this approach is the proposed European External Investment Plan which will use Official Development Assistance to leverage funding from other sources to generate sustainable growth for the benefit of the poorest.

Towards a renewed partnership with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries after 2020

  • A new partnership should help build peaceful, stable, well-governed, prosperous and resilient states and societies at our borders and beyond and deliver on our objective of a multilateral rules-based order addressing global challenges.
  • The aim is to agree with the ACP partner countries on an umbrella agreement which would go together with regional tailored partnerships for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, which address the specific regional opportunities and challenges faced.

What are the next steps in the process?

Over the coming months, this will be discussed by EU Member States at the Council and by the European Parliament. The objective is to agree on a joint text, a common framework for European development policy under the shared ownership of EU institutions and Member States. It is estimated that inter-institutional discussions could be concluded in the form of a Joint Statement in the first half of 2017.

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