May 22, 2013

[AUDIO] Thoughts on Europe’s relationship with the world from ECDPM’s Director

Posted: 17:15 PM CEST

by Clem Silverman

in EU institutional change

Paul Engel, Director of ECDPM, gives his thoughts on the relationship between Europe and the world. It is very much up for debate, and Paul explains why it is important to adapt and understand how this effects the way we work in international cooperation.

The transcript is below.

The clip is taken from an interview explaining how ECDPM works and what it does. You can watch the video about the organisation.


The relationship between Europe and the world has changed a lot over the past 10-20 years. Twenty years ago we could still think that the whole world depends on Europe and the United States for its development, for its improvement of the lot of poor people.

Right now, we are in a situation where Europe actually depends more on the world for its own growth, its economic and social development, than the other way around.

This particular aspect is often over-looked when we talk about international relations and is why they are so different from twenty years ago.

We now have Southern partners who are increasingly vocal about their own wishes, their own rights, and their own plans. They are less and less willing to accept recipes from either Europe, the US or elsewhere for their development.

Therefore the relationship, in a very positive way, has become a lot more reciprocal, and much more equal. That makes international cooperation the more interesting, vital and dynamic, because now we are really sitting around the table and nobody has to take anything at face value from other parties.

For Europe that is still a difficult adaptation process. We have grown accustomed to be listened to, to be able to say: we have experience with this so please do it this way or another. We will have to change our mode of cooperation to being listen first, and then come in with proposals.

We know that this is a much better developmental attitude – listen first to what people want to do, and then we say, ‘hey, maybe you should do this, or that, or some adapted form of what I say, of what I have done in order to develop your own country’.

Another interesting thing is people in Africa, Asia and Latin America becoming much more self confident – they increasingly ask us to not only tell them what to do, but to share own experiences. What did Europe do to maintain the peace? What did Europe do to integrate economically? What did Europe do to develop rural areas? What did Europe do to maintain food security?

People want to hear our experiences so that can think about it, reflect on it, to see whether at this time, in this moment, they can learn something from it and apply it to their own development.

Those are two very important changes that we have seen in the past five or ten years. That really needs to be incorporated into the European mind in external relations.

Dr. Paul Engel is ECDPM’s Director. He is a specialist on development effectiveness, policy coherence, innovation and knowledge networking for development and chairs or participates in various international initiatives in the fields of knowledge networking, evaluation and learning, and the valuation of indigenous knowledge.

Clem Silverman is communications assistant at ECDPM

Lips by Plurabelle is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Raphael G mwai May 28, 2013 at 11:26 am

The issues Paul raise are fundamental in development cooperation, going forward. I would like to make two relevant observations that could shape the future of this debate:
1) Figures indicate that the net inflows of development capital (loan repayments ) are in favour of the developed countries; not to mention that investment income repatriated to these nations are substantial.
This puts into sharp focus the nature and benefits of development co-operation. Who is the real winner?
2) Notwithstanding the much acclaimed equal partnership in development dialogue, the frameworks guiding these processes are western oriented and developed. The southern partners are obliged to respond to these imperatives. Cases in point are EPAs negotiations; and WTO perspectives that have stalled the Doha Round.
This, of course, raises the question: are the developing nations deficient in capacity to frame development instruments that are dynamic and responsive to their contemporary needs? The developing nations should now be challenged to take a more proactive role in development dialogue, based on home grown aspirations.


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