Dóchas Briefing on EU Development Policies - December 2005

Summary of main decisions taken in December 2005

In recent weeks, a number of key decisions were taken at EU level, which will fundamentally influence future EU development policy. They include:

01. The new Development Policy Statement
02. The EU Budget 2007-2013
03. EU budget for the year 2006
04. The EU Africa Strategy
05. New EU Strategy to combat HIV/AIDS

The key elements of these three decisions are outlined below.

01. The new EU Development Policy Statement

On 22 November, EU member states agreed on a document entitled the “European Consensus on Development“, which is a EU (Commission plus Member States) Development Policy.

NGOs across Europe have hailed the statement as a significant achievement, as it presents a consolidated EU vision on development. The first part of the document sets out the common objectives, values and principles subscribed to by all 25 Member States and the European Commission. 

Poverty eradication, including the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, is recognised as the primary objective of development policy; and development is acknowledged to be a goal in and of itself, not a tool to serve other EU interests. Other positive elements include: mention of the EU’s ODA targets for 2010 and 2015; references to human rights, gender equality, shared responsibility and accountability between the EU and its partners, and the important role of parliaments. The participation of civil society is one of the common principles, including a commitment to capacity building for dialogue. However, European civil society is mentioned uniquely in relation to development education in Europe.

A section on policy coherence states clearly that all policies likely to affect developing countries need to take account of development objectives. On trade policy, the statement highlights the importance of opening markets but also acknowledges that “developing countries should decide and reform trade policy in line with their broader national development plans.” There are no advances in the Statement with regards to debt cancellation and innovative resources being additional to ODA, nor to improving participation of developing countries and transparency in the international institutions. One issue of great concern is the mention in the Statement that its application to all developing countries is linked to discussions in the OECD on the DAC list of ODA recipients, where apparently a decision will be taken in April 2006 that would extend this list to transition countries currently classified as recipients of Official Assistance, thus artificially inflating ODA.

The second part of the Statement covers Community (ie EU institutions only, excluding the member states) development policy, listing comparative advantages of Community aid, notably the central role of the Commission in facilitating better EU coordination.

The full text of the document has been sent to Dóchas members.

02. EU budget 2007-2013 – Implications for EU aid

The European Council reached agreement on the EU’s future budget (called the “Financial Perspective” 2007-2013) at the European Summit on 16 December, after hours of hard negotiations.

The basis for the agreement is that EU spending will total 1.045% of European GDP, down from 1.09% in the previous period (2000-2006). The EU’s external policy areas will have a total budget of €50 bn, compared with €34.6 bn in the previous 7-year period.

This decision opens the door for a series of long awaited decisions on the best way to organise the future EU External Relations instruments. The Commission’s proposal is to reduce the many areas to a limited number of “instruments”. These instruments of EU foreign policy would be:

  • Pre-Accession (focusing on Accession countries such as Romania, Croatia, Turkey)
  • EU Neighbourhood (focusing on other countries neighbouring Europe, but not yet in accession talks with the EU – Ukraine, Albania, North Africa, etc)
  • Development Cooperation and Economic Cooperation (DCEC - focusing on all other countries of the world)
  • Stability Instrument
  • Humanitarian Aid
  • Macro-Financial Assistance

In spring 2005, three committees of the European Parliament judged, on the basis of a report by Irish MEP Gay Mitchell, that the Commission proposal for the DCEC instrument was not acceptable and decided to reject it. The two main contentious issues on the Development Cooperation instrument relate to 1) the fact that the instrument combines aid for developing countries and cooperation with industrialised countries in a single instrument and 2) the absence of any role for the EP in defining geographic and thematic priorities and strategies.

In addition to these six instruments, the Commission is also proposing a range of “thematic programmes”. The Commission is hoping to finalise its Communications on these by the end of January 2006.

The EC produced discussion papers on the future programmes on Food Security, Human and Social Development, Human Rights and Democracy and Environment. Some of these papers are posted on the EC website (DG development and Relex) and an on-line consultation was also organised on the issue paper for the future programme for cooperation with Non-State Actors that will replace the co-financing line. CONCORD prepared a vision paper on this NSA programme, independently from the EC consultation, that focuses on the future partnership between the EC and Civil society organisations.

The CONCORD Task Force on the Financial Perspectives is currently preparing a paper with detailed recommendations on the DCEC instrument to be used in dialogue with the European Parliament and the Council. More information and papers relating to thematic programmes are available from the Dóchas office or from Karine Sohet: K.sohet@aprodev.net

The full text of the EU decision can be downloaded from http://ue.eu.int/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/misc/87643.pdf

03. EU Budget for the year 2006 adopted by the European Parliament

On 15 December, the European Parliament adopted the EU Budget for 2006.
The budget will see an increase of the budget line for Co-financing with NGOs by €10 million (totalling €210 million euros) and no amount put in the reserve, as was the case in previous years.

There will also be an increase of the Food Security budget line by more than €6 million, €10 million for poverty diseases other than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis and €105.4 million for the European Initiative on Human Rights and Democracy. A new budget line amounting €23.3 million for an additional contribution to the MDGs has been created, and the humanitarian aid budget will be increased by €11 million euros to €470.4 million. The budget for disaster preparedness rises by €4.6 million to €19 million.

04. Towards the “integrated” EU Strategy for Africa

On 15-16 December, the European Council adopted conclusions on the Commission’s proposal for an EU Strategy for Africa, also taking into account the 22 November Council conclusions, a paper on security by the High Representative for Common Foreign & Security Policy, and the Parliament’s report on the Strategy.

The Council’s November conclusions call for a comprehensive strategy encompassing development, security and human rights, taking account of development objectives in all relevant EU policies.

Under the heading of peace & security, the Council gives further detail on addressing Small Arms and Light Weapons, notably through supporting the early establishment of an international treaty to establish common standards for the global trade in conventional arms.  The Council also encourages the application of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

Under economic growth / regional integration / trade, while the overall perspective remains that of liberalisation, of note is the commitment to establish an improved monitoring mechanism for development objectives within the Economic Partnership Agreement process, and to promote the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises in Africa.  The Council conclusions contain no progress on debt nor on the lack of a voice for African countries and of transparency in the international institutions, though these points were clearly made in the report by the European Parliament.

05. New EU Strategy to combat HIV/AIDS

On 15 December, the European Commission adopted a Communication on “combating HIV/AIDS within the European Union and in the neighbouring countries 2006-2009”. This follows up on the Commission working paper on a “Coordinated and integrated approach to combat HIV/AIDS” adopted in 2004.
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In a related development, on 14 December, the Commission presented a new strategy to help developing countries combat the shortage of doctors and nurses.

This strategy comes fast on the heals of the European Union agreement on a Consensus on Development Policy and on a Strategy for Africa, where the Commission proposes coordinated action of the European Union to assist developing countries in building up viable health systems.

With this new communication, the Commission proposes a set of actions to keep health workers where they are needed most, such as retention schemes, incentives to work in rural areas and support for training and career development.

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