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EU development goals left in the shadow of trade policy

University of Helsinki

The eradication of poverty and advancement of sustainable development are key goals in the European Union, but they suffer from compromises and policy incoherence for development, says the first doctoral dissertation on the topic.

Along with its member states, the EU is the biggest trade partner of the developing countries as well as provider of aid, but the internal dynamic of the Union is hampering its efforts to realise development policy goals. Problems are caused by both tensions between the EU's institutions and the unclear role of development policy.

"The Commission's Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation is weak, and development policy officials must continuously ally themselves with commercial and security policy representatives as well as member states that emphasise national development policy," says Marikki Stocchetti, who shall defend her doctoral dissertation next Friday at the University of Helsinki.

The complexity of the situation is increased by the fact that jurisdiction is shared by the Commission and the member states.

Development policy too flexible

The EU has made binding commitments to take development goals into account in all its operations affecting developing countries. However, development policy is easily understood too narrowly as mere aid to developing countries.

"The risk is that development policy is harnessed to advance the Union's other interests and to support European integration instead of focusing on actual development goals and operations," Stocchetti states.

The EU shares the World Trade Organization's aim of greater access to the EU market for the world's poorest countries. However, the EU's free trade agreements, which aim at the liberalisation of bilateral, reciprocal trade with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, have become a stumbling block.

The researcher says that the European Commission, Parliament and Council should discuss the significance of development policy and give it a clearer role in relation to the EU's external relations.

Moreover, the voices and experience of the development policy partner countries should be heard more clearly.

The coming years shall be significant, as the EU takes part in the formation of the UN-led agenda for sustainable development (the Post-2015 Development Agenda).

"Unfortunately, the economic crisis has made the EU turn inwards."

Stocchetti's doctoral dissertation is based on official EU documents as well as interviews she conducted with 34 EU policy-makers. It focuses on the period from the turn of the millennium to the Lisbon Treaty of 2009, which nominally improved the standing of development policy. The dissertation is the first study to systematically examine EU development policy and trade policy affecting development goals, as well as the manner in which the EU defines development policy coherence in its policy-making.

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MSSc Marikki Stocchetti's doctoral dissertation "Inside the European Consensus on Development and Trade: Analysing the EU's Normative Power and Policy Coherence for Development in Global Governance" shall be examined on Friday, 11 October 2013, at the University of Helsinki's Faculty of Social Sciences. The field of the thesis is development studies.

Marikki Stocchetti (b. 1972) received her Master's degree in social sciences at the University of Helsinki in 1999. Stocchetti works as a researcher in the European Union research programme at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. She has worked on EU development relations for the past 15 years.

Contact information for the doctoral candidate: tel. +35840 835 9897, marikki.stocchetti@fiia.fi

The doctoral dissertation is for sale at Unigrafia Bookstore, http://kirjakauppa.unigrafia.fi/index.php?kl_kieli=en, books@unigrafia.fi.

The electronic publication and abstract can be found at http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-10-9069-1

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