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Purposefully Triggering Unintended Consequences: the European Commission and the Uncertain Future of the EU-ACP Partnership


The EU’s proposal to renew the EU-ACP Agreement in spite of a number of signals pointing in the opposite direction is, inter alia, the unintended consequence of independent decisions taken in three different policy areas (trade, environment, and foreign and security affairs). The common unintended consequence that the three decisions shared would not have materialised if the European Commission had not purposefully triggered it to justify its vision of future EU-ACP relations. These findings challenge the prevailing and superficial usage of the notion of the unintended as a synonym for unanticipated and undesirable, and demonstrate that unintended consequences do not necessarily presuppose lack of anticipation, but may well be the result of calculation by policymakers.
Keywords: Unintended consequences, EU-ACP relations, Cotonou Agreement, Paris Agreement, Economic Partnership Agreements, EU Global Strategy