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Political dialogue (covering all EU external policies, in a formal setting, on a regular basis and following a specific format, under EEAS leadership) and policy dialogue (covering the specific sectors of INTPA cooperation, supporting partner country efforts to achieve its own strategic objectives while conveying EU policy objectives) should systematically consider human rights, gender equality and women's empowerment, the environment and climate change, as well as fragility and resilience.

In all sectors and contexts where possible, political and policy dialogue should include civil society organisations in their crucial roles as stakeholders, development actors and intermediaries between the state and citizens.

Managing interventions is often the entry point for policy dialogue, which should take place all along an intervention's life cycle in formal or informal settings, through different platforms and at different levels. The 2017 budget support guidelines, while meant for budget support, provides useful elements on policy dialogue which are also relevant to project-type interventions.

At the initial stages in the intervention cycle, quality country and sector context analyses are pre-requisites for INTPA staff to engage in intelligent, meaningful and responsive policy dialogue. During programming and identification, policy dialogue is the entry point for staff to work closely with government counterparts and other domestic and external actors.

During implementation, policy dialogue helps steer interventions. A consistent and well-conducted policy dialogue will favour an objective assessment of the context and might constitute a vector to facilitate the intervention's process of domestically driven change, while considering EU and partner country/region policy objectives.
Regardless of the entry point or implementing modality, policy dialogue must be carefully prepared and informed by several analyses (context, public policy, stakeholder, rights-based approach, cross-cutting issues). Such analyses enable EU staff to support change by:

  • understanding the perspective of local policymakers, such as the pressures they face from domestic and external actors and their own incentives in supporting change;
  • highlighting national or sector issues with the greatest potential to be addressed through focused engagement over time;
  • raising awareness about other key domestic actors, in addition to the government, with whom staff need to engage through policy dialogue.

This approach can build mutual trust to a point where more challenging policy change issues can be discussed. An intercultural approach can make this dialogue even more effective.

Stakeholder engagement should be pursued at all stages of the intervention cycle. It is not a 'one-off' exercise but should instead reflect an ongoing relationship, as continuous monitoring of different stakeholder groups will ensure their involvement at all intervention phases is maintained. The Action Document should include details on how this interaction will be pursued during the intervention's life and resources to ensure mobilisation of all relevant stakeholders.

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