February 3, 2010

European Development Cooperation– New Challenges, New Beginnings

Posted: 09:42 AM UTC

by Jeske van Seters on February 3, 2010

Europe wants to play a greater role on the world stage and arguably has the means and vision to do this. In a newly published report, four European think-tanks argue that the juxtaposition of recent global developments with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty might have created a ‘perfect storm’ allowing the EU to leverage its considerable resources to forge a new international cooperation. Will it rise to the challenge?

A group of European think-thanks has just published a joint Memorandum titled New Challenges, New Beginnings: Next Steps in European Development Cooperation.’ ECDPM is one of the four organisations involved, together with the Overseas Development Institute in London, the German Development Institute in Bonn and FRIDE in Spain. The aim of this collaboration is to present a comprehensive analysis of the current state of play, the key challenges faced and some practical recommendations for moving forward in Europe’s international engagement. This collective initiative is proof of the shared sense of urgency about the need to rethink EU development policies and practices in an ever globalising world.

The Report acknowledges that the European Union has the ambition to be an important actor on the international stage, in order to contribute to poverty reduction worldwide and tackling global challenges. However, its ability to live up to this ambition is mixed. The Lisbon Treaty that came into force in December 2009, as well as the inauguration of a new College of Commissioners, expected on 10 February, are opportunities for the EU to strengthen its role.

The report deals with a range of topics in twelve different chapters, including peace and security, migration, climate change, trade, development finance, and policy coherence for development, and identifies five key priorities for action.

First, the authors call for a new EU leadership in thinking about how development cooperation can deal with shared global problems. The Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 illustrated the complexity of reaching agreement on collective action and the EU’s inability to play a leading role. Renewed EU efforts are needed for effective Copenhagen follow-up actions, feeding into the next Conference of Parties in Mexico. The review of the Millennium Development Goals, to be discussed at a UN Summit in September 2010, provides another opportunity for the EU to provide valuable input.

Second, the authors point to the need for the EU to improve the effectiveness and targeting of its development aid and deliver on its financial commitments. Overall, the European Union - including the aid programmes of the Member States - provides around 60% of all Official Development Assistance globally, which amounted to US$70 billion in 2008. In addition, the EU has pledged to scale up aid to 0,7% of its Gross National Income (GNI) by 2015, setting  an intermediate target of 0,56% for 2010. Yet according to the Commission’s own estimates this  lower target will not be met until 2012 and a further 20 billion funding gap will need to be filled over the next two years. Besides the quantity, the quality of EU aid deserves extra attention. While the EU has been actively involved in shaping the international aid effectiveness agenda, resulting in the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action progress on the ground has been slow.

Third, the report calls for greater efforts to ensure that all EU policies contribute to the Union’s development goals. The Lisbon Treaty states that ‘The Union shall take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements that our likely to affect developing countries’ (Art 188D), a legal commitment also known as ‘policy coherence for development’. As for its application, the authors state that PCD has remained more of an aspiration then a reality. For example, the EU maintains a defensive and security-driven approach to migration, foregoing the opportunities that well-designed temporary labour migration schemes provide for sending and receiving countries. The authors encourage the EU to seize opportunities created by the Lisbon Treaty to strengthen PCD, including through the new European External Action Service. The EU’s efforts can further be guided by an ambitious results-oriented PCD Work Programme, which is currently being prepared by the European Commission.

Fourth, the authors underline the importance of new investment into genuine, result-oriented partnerships with developing countries. The spirit of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the EU and ACP countries, including its principle of co-decision, can be used as a model for EU cooperation with other regions. Furthermore, as reality is often less rosy than the partnership paradigm as included in joint agreements, the EU should ensure that actual dialogue takes place, based on the principle of mutual accountability and in full respect of partners’ national and regional specificities. By supporting a reform of the governing structures of the World Bank and the IMF, the EU can contribute to making sure that voices of developing countries are heard in those institutions.

Finally, the authors call for the EU to improve cooperation between Member States, so that the EU works as one. The European Consensus on Development and the EU Code of Conduct on Complementarity and Division of Labour provide valuable frameworks for EU donors to work together in developing countries, but progress on the ground has proven to be slow. To speed up progress, the authors’ recommendations include a more systematic assessment of comparative advantages of EU donors, encouraging EU representatives at the country level to take the issue forward. There should also be better information sharing among EU donors, and an effort to unlock the potential of the new EU delegations in partner countries to facilitate a more effective European contribution to development on the ground.  The EU is further encouraged to speak with one voice at international fora.

While the report addresses its recommendations directly to the forthcoming new College of European Commissioners, it aims to provide useful analysis and proposals for a wider variety of stakeholders, including EU Member States’ officials, Members of the European Parliament, NGOs and developing country representatives. ECDPM, together with the other institutions involved, hopes it will stimulate reflection and debate on EU policies and practices towards greater international cooperation.

Click here to download the Executive Summary and Full Report: www.ecdpm.org/eumemo

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 onono patrick February 10, 2010 at 2:51 pm

The eu aids has always been given but most of it is not used and doesnot reach intended beneficiaries in africa.


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