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Sustainable Development: EU sets out its priorities

(Strasbourg, 22 November 2016) 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.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “To build a future for our children and our planet to the benefit of everyone we are making the SDGs and sustainability a guiding principle in all our work. Implementing the UN 2030 Agenda is a shared commitment and needs everyone’s contribution and cooperation, including Member States and civil society at large.”

High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini said: “In our times we are more interconnected than ever before, so investing in people beyond our borders is also an investment for Europe. Today’s proposals have the common aim of strengthening the impact of our cooperation with our partners across the world, whilst promoting sustainability at home and abroad. This is at the heart of the EU’s Global Strategy published in June. The EU will keep leading an external action that supports peace, democracy and good governance, that reinforces resilience at all levels and promotes shared and sustainable prosperity for all.”

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica added: “The proposal for a new European Consensus on Development is the EU’s response to an increasingly interconnected and challenging world. I aim for a genuine consensus, under the shared ownership of EU Institutions and all Member States that will help us spearhead global action to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. Together with our proposals for our future partnership with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, it unequivocally confirms the EU’s readiness to engage with our partners across the world to build a better common future”.

Sustainability is a European brand. The EU has a strong starting position and track record, with a high level of economic development, social cohesion, democratic societies and a commitment to sustainable development which is firmly anchored in the European Treaties. Yet, to preserve the future, the right policy choices have to be made today.

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.


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the international community in September 2015, represents an ambitious new blueprint to respond to global trends and challenges. The core of the 2030 Agenda are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and associated targets, which run to 2030. Along with the other international summits and conferences held in 2015 in Addis Ababa and in Paris, the international community has an ambitious new frame for all countries to work together on shared challenges. For the first time, the Sustainable Development Goals are universally applicable to all countries and the EU is committed to be a frontrunner in implementing them.

Since 2000, the Cotonou Partnership Agreement has been the framework for EU’s relations with 78 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). The relationship focuses on the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and the gradual integration of ACP countries in the world economy. It seeks to increase peace and security, and to strengthen the democratic political environment. The agreement is reviewed every five years, and the proposal adopted today is a further step in preparing negotiations for a new partnership beyond 2020.

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