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International Partnerships

Civil society and stakeholder participation in EU-OACPS partnership

Around the world, people are increasingly demanding to be closely engaged in policy making, to be consulted and have a say on how public services and policies are designed, implemented and monitored. Civil society and other stakeholders are calling for better and meaningful participation at the local, national and global level.

The European Union (EU) and Organisation of African Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) initialled a text for a new Partnership Agreement on 15 April  2021 which clearly states the need for “open and transparent mechanisms for structured consultation with stakeholders”. At the same time, at the first Africa-Europe Week held in February 2022 in the fringes of the 6th EU-AU Summit, many stakeholders called for more permanent stakeholder engagement mechanisms for the EU’s partnerships with Africa.

Aware of these calls for participation and determined to respond to this challenge, the European Commission has asked the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to help conceive a mechanism for structured stakeholder engagement in the EU-OACPS and EU-AU Partnerships.


The EU-OACPS Partnership

The EU is a partner of the OACPS (formerly the ACP Group of States) in the so-called Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which remains in force until the end of June 2023.

The OACPS-EU partnership dates back to the late 1950s. Successive agreements have been revised to meet new and evolving challenges. The new Partnership Agreement, which will succeed the Cotonou Agreement once both sides complete their internal procedures for signature and conclusion, sets the scene for alliance-building and more coordinated actions on the world stage where the group's impact can be significant to tackle some of the most acute global challenges.


The OECD project

The OECD, and particularly its Open Government and Civic Space unit within the Public Governance Directorate, is supporting the EU and the OACPS with the development of a methodology facilitating the participation of civil society and other relevant stakeholders within the governance of the EU-OACPS and EU-AU Partnerships. The objective of the 24-month project, started in January 2022, is to conceive an instrument regulating the permanent engagement of civil society and other relevant stakeholders within such Partnerships.

Building on more than 20 years of experience in promoting and evaluating polices in the field of open government and citizens participation, and drawing on its “Recommendation of the Council of the OECD on Open Government”, the OECD’s role is that of a knowledge partner and technical advisor, in close coordination with the European Commission and the OACPS Secretariat.

The OECD is currently reviewing and analysing existing mechanisms for stakeholder engagement at supranational level. This includes mechanisms within the EU and beyond (at regional and international organisations, global partnerships etc) assessed through desk research and structured interviews. In parallel, the OECD has been consulting a number of diverse stakeholders to gauge their views and inputs on the future stakeholder engagement mechanism that will be proposed as part of the project. This includes EU institutions, regional CSO platforms and their members in the EU and ACP countries, some CSO national platforms and independent researchers.

The project was launched at the European Parliament on 23 June 2022 and in a number of other meetings and fora.