This paper presents a historical-institutionalist perspective on the EU’s current efforts to modernise its development policy and reform its various relationships with third countries. Applying concepts that endogenise institutional change, the analysis looks into the origin and basis of the policy and describes the various types of development partnership that the EU pursues with third countries. The paper subsequently analyses the 2007 Joint Africa-EU Strategy and the negotiations on EU-ACP post-2020, with a specific focus on how the development of these partnerships over time affects current EU efforts to seek to move beyond donor-recipient relations. It observes a gap between the reform-oriented discourse and the relative continuity in relationships over time, which serves to secure both the support of reform-oriented actors and those seeking to preserve the status quo. Repetition of this strategy over time combined with the need to launch new initiatives as well as changing circumstances affect this broad-based consensus and the legitimacy of the partnerships concerned.
ACP-EU; African Union; Partnerships; AU-EU; historical institutionalism; international negotiations
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