Policy Coherence for Development

Policy Coherence for Development

Through Policy Coherence for Development the EU seeks to take account of development objectives in all of its policies that are likely to affect developing countries. It aims at minimising contradictions and building synergies between different EU policies to benefit developing countries and increase the effectiveness of development cooperation.


Policy Coherence Approach

Policy coherence in support of development objectives was first integrated in EU fundamental law in 1992 and further reinforced in the Treaty of Lisbon (Art. 208 TFEU) making the EU a forerunner on the international stage in this area. The political commitment to Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) was first embedded in the European Consensus on Development of 2006. 

Already in 2005, the EU agreed to follow up on progress in PCD in twelve policy areas, namely trade, environment, climate change, security, agriculture, fisheries, social dimension of globalisation, employment and decent work, migration, research and innovation, information society, transport and energy .(See Communication from the Commission COM(2005) 134 final - Accelerating progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and related 2005 Council Conclusions).

Aiming at a more strategic and targeted approach the EU decided in 2009 to cluster the 12 policy areas around five PCD challenges. These are 1) Trade and Finance, 2) Addressing climate change, 3) Ensuring global food security, 4) Making migration work for development, and 5) Strengthening the links and synergies between security and development in the context of a global peace building agenda (See Communication from the Commission COM(2009) 458 final - Policy Coherence for Development - Establishing the policy framework for a whole–of–the-Union approach and related 2009 Council Conclusions).

Responding to calls for an operational framework for the work on PCD and supporting the achievement of the MDGs by 2015, the Commission in 2010 presented the Policy Coherence for Development Work Programme 2010-2013. The work programme was conceived as a tool for all EU institutions and Member States to guide the common effort in promoting PCD between 2010 and 2013, structured around the five strategic challenges mentioned above.

In June 2017, the new European Consensus on Development reaffirmed the EU commitment to PCD and recognized it as a crucial element of the strategy to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in our partner countries. The Consensus foresees that PCD will be applied across all policies and all areas covered by the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, with special attention paid to trade, finance, environment and climate change, food security, migration and security.


Mechanisms and instruments

Over the years, the EU has gradually strengthened its work on procedures, instruments and mechanisms to promote and enhance policy coherence for development. Important progress was made in 2015 with the revision of the Commission Impact Assessment guidelines as part of the Better Regulation Package. They now include specific guidance and a tool box for analysing the potential impact of important EU policy initiatives on developing countries. This tool #34 will help ensure that impacts on developing countries are taken into account at a very early stage of the preparation of an initiative.

EU Member States are responsible for ensuring policy coherence for development in their national policies and at the EU level and have their own coordination mechanisms in place.

The Commission has monitored progress on PCD in the EU and its Member States in biennial EU Reports on Policy Coherence for Development since 2007. The most recent report was published in August 2015 (SWD(2015) 159 final). The report covers both cross-cutting and thematic issues and presents examples of progress on Policy Coherence for Development across different policy areas.

To further promote PCD the European Commission meets twice a year with an informal group of PCD contact points from EU Member States to share information on PCD priorities and good practices at the EU level. The EU also promotes discussions about policy coherence at the international level, in dialogues with partner countries and engagements with the OECD in this area. A dedicated PCD-team in DEVCO promotes PCD and coordinates internal work across services (thematic units, other DGs, EEAS and EU Delegations) and with other institutions (Council and European Parliament).

In response to Council and European Parliament demands for an independent ex-post assessment of how the Commission implements its legal and political commitments, an independent and comprehensive evaluation on PCD has been launched in February 2016 (see roadmap). The final report is expected to be published in the second half of 2018.



Attention to PCD has increased in the Council over the last years. Dedicated discussions and debates have recently increased through the introduction of policy coherence-related issues as a regular agenda item in the Working Party on Development Cooperation (CODEV), the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) and the Foreign Affairs Council in Development Formation. Such discussions have covered a wide range of areas including migration, fisheries, food security and conflict minerals. Council gives also guidance by adopting Conclusions on the biennial PCD reports:

  • 2015 Council Conclusions on Policy Coherence for Development (EN)

  • 2013 Council Conclusions on Policy Coherence for Development (EN)

  • 2012 Council Conclusions on Policy Coherence for Development (EN)

  • 2009 Council Conclusions on Policy Coherence for Development (EN)

  • 2007 Council Conclusions on Policy Coherence for Development (EN)

  • 2005 Council Conclusions on Accelerating progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals (EN)

European Parliament

The European Parliament has also strengthened its instruments and mechanisms on PCD. Since 2010 the Development committee (DEVE) has a Standing Rapporteur for PCD. The DEVE mandate includes regular discussions on PCD-related issues, reaching out to other committees and creating a “PCD label” for EP reports. The EP sets out its own priorities in a resolution on the biennial Commission PCD report.

Policy Coherence for Development and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The 2030 Agenda presents a great opportunity to address the interlinked challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development. The EU has played an important role in shaping the 2030 Agenda and will continue to play a leading role as we have moved into its implementation.

The new agenda, being universal, aims to bring transformative change to enable sustainable development for all. At the international level, all countries will need to enhance policy coherence as an important means to ensure that all policies support progress towards the agreed global goals.

In a new Global Partnership, all developed, upper-middle income countries and emerging economies should assess the impact of their policies on poorer countries. The EU will contribute to the global agenda by promoting its own experience on PCD as a key contribution to the collective effort towards enhancing broader policy coherence for sustainable development.


PCD Reports

  • 2015 EU Report on Policy Coherence for Development (EN) (FR) (DE)

See also the EU Member States' replies to the PCD questionnaire sent out by the Commission in the preparation of the 2015 report.

  • 2013 EU Report on Policy Coherence for Development (EN)
  • 2011 EU Report on Policy Coherence for Development (EN)
  • 2009 EU Report on Policy Coherence for Development (EN)
  • 2007 EU Report on Policy Coherence for Development (EN)


Recent PCD-related Studies

In 2015, a major study on the "Assessment of economic benefits generated by the EU Trade regimes towards developing countries" was concluded. This investigation was undertaken by leading academic consultants under the supervision of DG DEVCO, in close co-operation with DG TRADE and DG TAXUD. The study demonstrates that EU trade policy has significantly increased both the exports of developing countries and their economic diversification.

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