Dóchas submission on the EU Development Policy Statement - March 2005

Submission to the Department of Foreign Affairs on the EU Development Policy Statement

March 2005

Background

As part of the consultation process being conducted by the European Commission in connection with the revision of the aims and principles of the European Community’s Development Cooperation policy, European civil society was invited to submit comments on the draft issues paper produced by the Commission.

Dóchas, the association of Irish Non-Governmental Development Organisations, is currently developing a response to the European Commission, in cooperation with the EU-wide NGO network, CONCORD.

As the national platform of Irish Development NGOs, Dóchas has developed the current submission to the Department of Foreign Affairs, since the Irish Government is a key stakeholder in the current debate on the future orientations of the EU’s Development Cooperation policies. This paper aims to facilitate the Department’s decision-making with regard to the Development Policy Statement.

Dóchas would like to contribute the following elements for consideration:

  • Modalities for EU Development Cooperation
  • Development & Security
  • Civil Society

01. Modalities for EU Development Cooperation

Dóchas is acutely aware of the challenges that face the global community: a growing exclusion of people and countries in the world trade and political system, democratic failure and human rights abuses and evolving structural violence. Following 11 September 2001, the international security context has tended to lead the European Union to redefine its foreign policy in a restrictive way that would give prominence to the security elements of its external actions. In Dóchas’ view, the EU needs to remain true to its position as principal provider of development assistance with a role that is in line with its founding values.

Recommendation:

  • The Development Policy Statement needs to reconfirm poverty eradication as the overarching objective of EU development policy.

The reviewed statement should have the eradication of poverty and the fight against the root causes of poverty, through the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as an overarching objective if it is to be consistent with the European Constitution.

Currently, the Commission proposals in the context of the Financial Perspectives debate risk undermining the clear link between the Development objectives outlined in the Treaty and their achievement. The Development Policy Statement can restore the link, if it applies to the EU’s relations with all developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Caucasus, the Mediterranean and the Pacific region.

Current proposals of the Commission within the framework of the EU's Financial Perspective for 2007 to 2013 tend to separate developing countries into two categories: neighbouring developing countries (under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument) and all the other developing countries (under the development co-operation and economic co-operation instrument). In Dóchas’ view, it is absolutely crucial that the development policy statement applies to the new European Neighbourhood Instrument as well.

The statement should recognise the many dimensions of the objective of poverty eradication. Basing itself on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, it should prioritise such issues as the empowerment of women, the advancement of human rights, the protection and promotion of children’s rights, the mainstreaming of environmental issues, respect for the international rule of law and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Recommendations:

  • The resources allocated to all developing countries should follow a common framework based on the rights and needs of the populations, taking into account the contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and measured through the Human Development Index.
  • A very clear distinction should be made in the statement between “consistency between all areas of EU external actions”, which is needed to enhance the effectiveness of EU actions in the world, and the “coherence” of EU internal and external policies with development objectives when they have an impact on developing countries.     
  • The reviewed development policy statement should enable the EU to press for a renewed commitment for a genuine development agenda in trade.

The Union should oppose the use of bilateral and regional trade agreements that force sweeping liberalisation measures in exchange for limited market access. The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations with ACP countries should not be based on reciprocity, but on development benchmarks, demonstrating that the aim of the negotiations is not free trade as such, but the eradication of poverty and the achievement of the MDGs.

Recommendations:

  • The EU already has the political commitment to Policy Coherence, as stipulated in the Treaty of Amsterdam. This commitment needs to be reiterated in the Development Policy Statement, and a range of measures need to be adopted to achieve greater policy coherence for development.

Such measures may include the promotion of the use of coherence assessment instruments; putting in place functioning coherence mechanisms, as well as regular meetings between the Ministers for Trade, Development and Agriculture to ensure top level leadership; ensuring greater transparency on the EU’s policy stances in relation to international trade and development; working within the WTO framework to stop all dumping of European produce on developing country markets and to allow developing countries the policy space to develop the same level of protection currently accorded to EU member states; etc.

02. Security & Development

In recent years, the complex relationship between Development, Security, Peace and Conflict has been given greater attention. The notion that Development automatically would lead to greater Peace and Security has been discredited and the international community is appropriately devoting greater attention to the violent processes that undermine Development in many countries.

The balance, however, seems to be swinging towards the other extreme, with resources being increasingly channelled to military approaches to questions of security and conflict. Rather than focusing on a multitude of causes for violence, and assessing human security in its fullness, Governments and international actors such as the EU are redefining their security paradigms almost exclusively in terms of intervention through military means. Combating terrorism and illegal migration are taking precedent over addressing the root causes of these phenomena.

Ireland’s membership of the Human Security network places it at the heart of a new and potentially ground-breaking initiative to redefine “security” issues from a holistic perspective, bringing balance to addressing legitimate fears of terrorism and violent conflict on the one hand and laying the ground work for developmental processes and human security in all its dimensions.

Recommendation:

  • The European Union should adopt the Human Security concept, with the centrality of Human Rights, as its framework for policy-making in the area of Foreign Affairs and Security policy.

Adopting the Human Security paradigm will mean a renewed focus on all threats, both those of a violent and those of a more structural nature. Respect and fulfilment of Human Rights are at the heart of the Human Security concept, and it prompts action on both the “traditional” security threats and the less publicised violations of people’s rights to food, health and well-being.

The definition of Human Security used in the European Security Strategy (ESS) and more recently the consultation Issues Paper misses this vital point – The Commission defines Human Security as “citizens’ ability to live in freedom, peace and stability”; ie. focusing primarily on the dimensions of violence and instability. Dóchas proposes that the security concepts used by the EU should include all threats to human security, including those of a systemic and structural nature.

Dóchas welcomes the Commission’s new emphasis on the links between Development and Security, and welcomes the proposal by the Commission, under the “Financial Perspectives”, to create a new separate Stability mechanism, “designed to provide an adequate response to instability and crises and to longer term challenges with a stability or security aspect.”

Recommendation:

  • Rather than “carefully examine” the DAC criteria (as suggested in the Issues Paper), the European Union should be a staunch defender of the poverty focus of Official Development Assistance. 

By creating a separate Stability Mechanism, the Commission acknowledges the separateness of Development Cooperation and Stability/Security initiatives. The proposed Development Cooperation instrument should be wholly focused on poverty alleviation, but the creation of a Stability Instrument rightly creates the possibility for the EU to engage in much needed work aiming to promote peace and security, without impinges on the poverty focus of EU aid.

Similarly, Dóchas welcomes the continuation of EU humanitarian aid as a separate instrument. In recent years, pressure on humanitarian assistance to conform with foreign policy objectives has increased, and the modalities in relief delivery focus on the need for political transformation, causing a blurring of lines between political, military and humanitarian actors. The Humanitarian Principles, developed over many years to ensure effective, independent assistance to all victims of disasters and war, are being eroded, as much by design as by default. As the world’s largest donor of humanitarian assistance, the European Union is the key player able to reverse this trend.

Recommendation:

  • In an era of increasingly blurring lines between military and aid workers, the EU needs to be at the forefront of upholding and promoting the international humanitarian principles. 

03. Civil Society

The ability of the EU to effectively play the role to which it aspires will critically depend on the support it has from Europe's own citizens. The review of the development policy statement provides a timely opportunity to launch a broad public debate, linked to national campaigns on the European Constitution, on the role of Europe in the world. As civil society organisations, European Development NGOs are a key ally of the Commission in its attempts to promote greater understanding of the need for, and the complexities of, international development assistance.

Over the last three decades, the European Commission’s DG Development has built up considerable expertise about the importance of civil society in “Development”; both at home - in terms of generating understanding and support - and abroad - in terms of promoting developmental processes based on citizens’ participation. Most recently, in its Communication on Non-State Actors, the Commission formulated a number of guiding principles underlying its engagement with civil society.

European Commission Directorates-General organise many processes of civil dialogue on policy issues that relate to the EU’s relations with developing countries. However, these vary greatly with regard to access to information, the organisation of dialogue and the type and openness of consultation.

Recommendation:

  • Explicit goals and clear strategies with regard to poverty reduction, sustainable development and equality will not only increase the quality of EC aid, but also increase citizen engagement and participation in setting development priorities.
  • More specifically, the EU’s Development Policy Statement needs to reinforce its interaction with civil society groups, at home and in developing countries, in recognition of the unique resource that such groups represent.
  • The Commission needs to develop models of strategic engagement with civil society organisations. Such engagement should rise above simple consultation mechanisms and be based on a clearly formulated civil society policy with targeted strategic relations, shaped in furtherance of the common objectives of the Commission and civil society organisations. 

The Commission needs to formulate a coherent approach to dialogue with civil society, using models of existing good practice. This will require the clarification of mechanisms and policies but, most importantly, it also needs continued commitment and support of EU senior management levels, and support to the resulting coordination and consultation mechanisms.

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Company Particulars: Dóchas – the Irish Association of Non-Governmental Development Organisations is a private company limited by guarantee and not having a share capital. It is registered in Dublin, Ireland, No: 94384. It has been granted tax exemption by the Revenue Commissioners in Ireland and has a charitable tax exemption number: CHY6410. Company Directors are those listed as Board members.