European Development Cooperation in a Changing World: Rising Powers and Global Challenges after the Financial Crisis

By John Humphrey

Working Paper No. 8 - November 2010

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This paper is written as part of a programme of work on the prospects for European Union development cooperation in the period up to 2020. One part of this programme focuses on "New Actors in International Development" and includes analyses of a variety of "new actors", ranging from private foundations to countries in Eastern Europe, some of which are developing aid programmes for the first time, and to rising powers such as Brazil, India and China. This particular paper addresses the significance for EU development cooperation of two large and important new actors in this field, China and India. More specifically, it considers these implications in the context of new challenges for development cooperation arising from global instabilities and the 2008-9 global financial crisis.

The increasing presence of China, in particular, as an actor in Africa has led to substantial comment and debate about China's cooperation policies and the challenges they pose for Western donors. Much of this discussion about Chinese development cooperation has focused on the modalities of aid and the implications of 'non-interference' for the human rights, good governance and democracy agendas in Africa. This is where China's policy directly challenges the practices of the DAC donors and also encroaches on what the EU has regarded as its sphere of influence.

Nevertheless, it will be argued in this working paper that the most important challenge to EU development cooperation in the coming decade originates not from the role of China and India as new donors with new practices, but rather from the shifting global balance of power that has seen China and India emerge as new global and regional powers. This process has been accelerated by the global financial crisis of 2008-9 and its aftermath, and it is gaining additional importance as a result of the new global governance challenges that are posed by increasing global volatility and global resource constraints. Read more.