CTA Brussels News

Information on key ACP-EU programmes and events relevant to agriculture and rural development in ACP countries
October 2019 - No. 625


Meet the new chairs of the parliamentary committees at the European Parliament.
Committees are the powerhouses of Parliament’s legislative work. Find out who will be heading them up for the next two-and-a-half years.

Hearing of Commissioner-designate Jutta Urpilainen

The Development Committee questioned the candidate for the international partnerships portfolio on future development cooperation and respect of EU values. EU-Africa strategy, gender in development, and EU values.

During her introductory speech, Jutta Urpilainen said that the 2030 agenda for sustainable development goals is “a golden opportunity for the European Union” to continue to play a leadership role in supporting partner countries to eradicate poverty worldwide, whilst also “promoting values, including empowering women and girls as a precondition for inclusive societies”. Gender equality should be a top priority and mainstreamed in all policies and programmes, she added.

MEPs put forward several questions on the ongoing negotiations on the proposed Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument, the post-Cotonou agreement with countries from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, calling for greater transparency to keep the European Parliament and the public informed.

Members also questioned the Commissioner-designate on how she would ensure that EU values are respected, particularly on gender equality and women’s empowerment, which are a priority in international cooperation. Later in the hearing, MEPs raised the issue of linking development to migration challenges and the Paris Agreement on climate action.

You can watch the video recording of the full hearing here.

Source: European Commission, 01 October 2019

Featured CTA partner

United Nations - Why do we mark International Days?

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool.

International Day of Rural Women, 15th October: The Invaluable Contribution of Rural Women to Development

The crucial role that women and girls play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing, has been increasingly recognized. Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas. They make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.

Even so, women and girls in rural areas suffer disproportionately from multi-dimensional poverty. While extreme poverty has declined globally, the world’s 1 billion people who continue to live in unacceptable conditions of poverty are heavily concentrated in rural areas. Poverty rates in rural areas across most regions are higher than those in urban areas. Yet smallholder agriculture produces nearly 80 per cent of food in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and supports the livelihoods of some 2.5 billion people. Women farmers may be as productive and enterprising as their male counterparts, but are less able to access land, credit, agricultural inputs, markets and high-value agrifood chains and obtain lower prices for their crops.

Structural barriers and discriminatory social norms continue to constrain women’s decision-making power and political participation in rural households and communities. Women and girls in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services, such as education and health care, and infrastructure, including water and sanitation, while much of their labour remains invisible and unpaid, even as their workloads become increasingly heavy due to the out-migration of men. Globally, with few exceptions, every gender and development indicator for which data are available reveals that rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women, and that they disproportionately experience poverty, exclusion and the effects of climate change.

The impacts of climate change, including on access to productive and natural resources, amplify existing gender inequalities in rural areas. Climate change affects women’s and men’s assets and well-being differently in terms of agricultural production, food security, health, water and energy resources, climate-induced migration and conflict, and climate-related natural disasters.

2019 Theme: Rural Women and Girls Building Climate Resilience
As the world faces a critical need to act against climate change, this year’s theme highlights the important role that rural women and girls play in building resilience to face the climate crisis. This will be a timely conversation that leverages the momentum garnered by the UN Climate Action Summit held in September 23rd in New York.

Globally, one in three employed women works in agriculture. Women collect biomass fuels, manually process foodstuffs, and pump water — 80% of households without piped water rely on women and girls for water collection. Rural women are at the forefront of the battle lines when natural resources and agriculture are threatened. For example, a quarter of the total damage and loss resulting from climate-related disasters from 2006 to 2016 was suffered by the agricultural sector in developing countries, significantly impacting rural women and girls' food security and productive potential.

One of the most effective ways to achieve progress on the threats posed by climate change is addressing gender inequality. Empowered women have greater capacity to respond to climate change and they play important roles in adopting low-carbon technologies, spreading knowledge about climate change, and urging action.


Strategic Events

New ACP/EU Partnership Chief Negotiators meeting

Meeting in New York on 28th September 2019 in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, the chief negotiators Commissioner Mimica and Togolese Minister Robert Dussey further specified the economic framework of future relations between African, Caribbean and Pacific countries with the European Union after 2020.

Negotiations will continue on the remaining parts of the agreement in the coming weeks. Discussions on the so-called “common foundation” for all countries cover the general provisions, international cooperation, the means of cooperation, the institutional framework and the final provisions.

At the same time, talks on the three partnerships with each region will intensify. The chief negotiators are expected to discuss progress on the three regional pillars at their next meeting, scheduled for October. 


The Cotonou Agreement currently governing EU-ACP relations is due to expire in 2020. Negotiations on a new ACP-EU Partnership were launched in September 2018.

The initial rounds of talks mainly focused on the “common foundation”, which sets out the values and principles that bring the EU and ACP countries together and indicates the strategic priority areas that both sides intend to work on together.

In addition, the future agreement is due to include specific, action-oriented regional pillars focusing on each region's needs. The first round of consultations on the regional pillars was concluded in spring 2019.

The future ACP-EU Partnership will serve to further cement the close political ties between the EU and ACP countries on the world stage. Together, the ACP countries and the EU represent more than half of UN member countries and over 1.5 billion people.

Source: European Commision, 28 September 2019


ACP Countries Leading by Example: Supporting 1.5 to Stay Alive!

States across Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) remain deeply committed to urgent and effective climate action.  At the joint side event co-organised by the ACP Group, AOSIS and the European Commission (EC) on the margins of the United National General Assembly today, the organizations highlighted the need for urgency to address the “climate emergency ”

The sentiment was echoed by the other high-level speakers emphasizing that enhanced NDCs would require enhanced support and enhanced partnerships.
Financing and quick access to finance remain a primary challenge for effective implementation of NDCs, despite the numerous existing initiatives on climate change by various development partners.

Just days before the event, the ACP and its long-standing partner, European Commission, signed a joint Declaration to strongly reaffirm their commitment to effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.
The ACP Group and AOSIS will continue to work together and with other partners to address the impacts of climate change in their member states and regions.

Source: ACP Secretariat, 25 September 2019

Three African trade blocks boost small-scale cross-border trade

Three African trade blocks have come up with two new projects aimed at increasing formal small-scale cross- border trade flows in the region.

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East Africa Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have come up with a 15-million-euro Regional Small-Scale Cross Border Trade Initiative and a 53-million-euro Trade Facilitation Project.

The projects are funded by the European Union (EU) under the 11th European Union Development Fund.

The implementation of the two projects was expected to contribute to higher revenue collection for governments at the borders, increased security and improved incomes for traders.

The first project is designed to address challenges facing small-scale traders which include high transactions costs arising from delays at the border, high taxes and high transport costs, corruption and harassment. The second project aims at increasing intra-regional trade flows of goods, persons and services by reducing the cost and delays of imports and exports at specific border posts. This will be addressed through reduction of non-tariff barriers, implementation of digital free trade area, improvement of coordinated border management and liberalization of trade in services and free movement of persons.

Source: Xinhua, 1st October 2019
COMESA sets up cross border trading programme

Small cross border are the key beneficiaries of new projects aimed at increasing formal small-scale cross border trade flows in the COMESA, EAC and SADC Tripartite region.

The first is a 15 million euros Regional Small-Scale Cross Border Trade Initiative (SSCBTI) project, while the second is a 53m euros Trade Facilitation Project. These are funded by the European Union under the 11th European Union Development Fund (EDF 11). The implementation of the two projects is expected to contribute to higher revenue collection for governments at the borders, increased security and improved incomes for traders.

The SSCBT initiative is designed to address challenges facing small scale traders which include high transactions costs arising from delays at the border, high taxes and high transport costs; corruption and harassment among others. In COMESA region, small cross border trade accounts for 30 to 40% of total trade.

The Trade Facilitation Programme aims at increasing intra-regional trade flows of goods, persons and services by reducing the costs and delays of imports and exports at specific border posts. This will be addressed through reduction of non-tariff barriers (NTBs), implementation of digital Free Trade Area (DFTA), World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA), improvements of the Coordinated Border Management (CBM) and liberalization of Trade in Services and free movement of persons.

Source: COMESA, 1st October 2019
The EU signed agreements with Cuba amounting to €25 million

The €15 million Transcultura is the first project which will establish a Cultural Training Hub in Havana, to provide a boost to training and skills in the cultural heritage and creative industries in the Caribbean. It will also help increase economic opportunities and cultural cooperation in the Caribbean and between the region and the EU. Unesco will be in charge of running the project.

The second project is a €10 million agriculture project to be implemented on the ground by UNDP and the FAO will foster climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable production practices and decentralised decision-making. The result will be greater capacity to meet local demand, including from local tourism.
The signing ceremony kicked off a meeting on EU-Cuba on 30th September 2019 that  also discussed future partnership and priority areas, explore ways to increase Cuban ownership of cooperation activities and look at issues linked to triangular cooperation and the future post-Cotonou agreement.

Source: European Commission, 30 September 2019
EU reaffirms support to the UN reform with €30 million

The European Union and the United Nations signed on 26th September a Contribution Agreement of €30 million to the Joint Fund for the 2030 Agenda. The Fund is a central component of the ongoing reform of the UN Development System and seeks to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals worldwide. European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, and United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly, underlined the importance of the agreement.

The new Joint Fund for the 2030 Agenda is an inter-agency pooled fund that forms a central component of the ongoing reform of the UN Development System (UNDS. It was formally launched by Deputy-Secretary General Amina Mohammed on the margins of the Financing for Development Forum on 23 April 2018. The UN has targeted the Fund's capitalisation at a minimum of $290 million annually.

Source: European Commission, 26 September 2019

Key resources

Budget Support - Trends and Results 2019

EU budget support is implemented in 89 countries or territories through 250 programmes, for a portfolio of EUR 10.6 billion and payments amounting to EUR 1.8 billion in 2018. EU budget support is provided when relevant and credible policies are in place and implemented effectively. This report highlights progress achieved by partner countries towards the 17 SDGs and how EU budget support contributed to the success of their policies.

Source: European Commission, 23 September 2019

Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development 2019

The report titled, ‘Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development 2019: Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality,’ was published on 12 July 2019, as part of the OECD’s contribution to the July 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

It comprises sections on: coherent approaches for empowerment, inclusiveness and equality; institutional approaches to PCSD; tracking progress on PCSD; and partnerships for coherence.
The report shows that to successfully address SDG interactions, an integrated approach to policymaking is required, as well as strong and inclusive governance mechanisms. It also reveals that there is no-one-size-fits-all approach for ensuring coherent SDG implementation; instead, countries need tailored solutions that take into account the national context, administrative set-up and political traditions.
Per the report, enablers needed to facilitate governments’ efforts to enhance PCSD can be categorized in three main areas:
  • a strategic vision for achieving the SDGs, underpinned by a clear political commitment and institutional leadership to enhance policy coherence for sustainable development;
  • effective and inclusive institutional and governance mechanisms to address policy interaction across sectors, and align actions between levels of government; and
  • a set of responsive and adaptive tools to anticipate, assess and address domestic, transboundary and long-term impacts of policies.
On monitoring and reporting to collect evidence on the benefits of policy coherence, the report indicates that countries are struggling to set national targets and indicators for policy coherence that account for country circumstances and priorities. It notes that the OECD framework for tracking progress on PCSD at the national level suggests that countries need to consider three interrelated elements of the policy making cycle: (i) institutional mechanisms; (ii) policy interactions (synergies and trade-offs); and (iii) policy effects “here and now,” “elsewhere” and “later”. It further highlights a number of indicators from different disciplines that countries can use to capture these elements as they relate to specific SDGs.
On partnership, the report refers to the Multi-stakeholder Partnership for Enhancing Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development (the ‘PCSD Partnership’), facilitated by the OECD, to encourage better and more coherent policies. It provides an overview of partners’ experiences in implementing PCS. [Brochure on report]

Source: OECD, 12 July 2019


European Commission, Fighting IUU fishing
Tuesday, 15 October 2019
12h30 - 14h
Rue de la Loi, 43-45, Grand Floor
European Economic and Social Committee, New EU goals and policies for sustainable development - Joint perspective of consumers and environmentalists
Tuesday, 15 October 2019
Brussels, Belgium
FAO, High-Level Meeting on World Food Day, Investing in Nutrition: Partnering for Action, European Parliament
Tuesday, 15 October 2019
10h00 - 12h00
Brussels, Belgium
Food 2030: Nourishing people and nurturing the planet through sustainable health diets for all
Event organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
16 October 2019
From 13:00
Brussels, Belgium
UNEP, “Global Environment Outlook 6” presented in the European Parliament
15 October 2019
Presentation to other stakeholders
16 October 2019
Brussels, Belgium
Brussels Briefing n.58 - Africa's Agriculture Trade in a changing Environment
23 October 2019
09:00 - 13:00
Brussels, Belgium
Register here
More information:
This CTA Brussels newsletter is produced weekly by the CTA Brussels Office

Publisher: Ms Isolina Boto, Manager CTA Brussels Office (
Editor: Félix Ajong (
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The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.
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