EU development assistance plays a crucial role in addressing today’s global challenges. At the session of GAERC for Development Cooperation the following issues was on the agenda to help promote increased and improved development cooperation. ODA Commitments, Democracy support in EU external relations including Afghanistan, Budget Support, Aid Effectiveness, Climate Change and Policy Coherence for Development (PCD).
Development Ministers had a productive discussion on EU ODA commitments, following their previous meeting at the May GAERC. They underlined the critical role that EU ODA plays in helping developing countries to make progress towards the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and to respond to the range of crises which they have faced in recent years. Ministers also highlighted the fact that absolute levels of EU ODA have continued to rise despite the economic crisis. This is a clear signal of the EU’s enduring commitment to supporting developing countries in their efforts to reduce poverty. At the same time, Ministers agreed that the EU has a considerable responsibility given its leading role on ODA and pointed out that the challenges in, for instance, reaching the MDG 5 (maternal health) is cause for grave concern. Among the issues addressed, the following highlights: Ministers discussed the necessity of stepping up efforts to reach the respective individual commitments towards achieving the collective EU target for 2015 of 0,7% of GNI to ODA. The importance of establishing national timetables to achieve our targets was highlighted. The EU, currently representing 59% of ODA, urges other donor partners to make commitments to increase ODA in support of the MDGs. Increased effectiveness and improved results reporting are essential elements in order to secure continued domestic support for increasing ODA levels. Ministers discussed the possibility of elaborating joint methods of measuring and reporting results as a possible way forward.
The Commission was encouraged to take an even more central role on reporting of ODA delivery from next year. The possibility of regular monitoring by the European Council of progress to deliver the EU’s ODA targets was raised. Looking ahead, the May GAERC 2010 will adopt Council Conclusions on an EU position for the UN MDG Summit next year, including the issue of financing for development and ODA commitments.
Democracy support in the EU’s external relations/Afghanistan
Together with Foreign Ministers, Development Ministers adopted Council Conclusions on Democracy Support in the EU’s external relations and they discussed Afghanistan in the light of these Conclusions. Afghanistan demonstrates the importance of increasing the coherence, effectiveness and coordination of EU democracy support in the implementation of the EU’s development policy and the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The discussion has held in the presence of Ambassador Mr Kai Eide, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA. The discussion were focused on the challenges for the EU in implementing the “Plan for strengthened EU Action in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, with regard to civilian capacity building, sub-national governance, and improving rule of law.
The ministers discussed budget support over an informal lunch, especially the possibility of initiating a dialogue on a coordinated EU approach to budget support.Many member states emphasized the importance of increased coordination, while recognizing the sovereign nature of member states’ decisions on budget support.
Ministers pointed out a number of elements for further discussions at technical level, including, amongst other, strengthened dialogue, budget support operations in situations of fragility as well as joint analyses, results-reporting and communication.
The ministers adopted an Operational Framework on aid effectiveness, to help the EU honour the international commitments it has made in Paris and Accra. The EU is also expected to play a leadership role in the international cooperation on aid effectiveness, including towards the High Level Forum in Seoul 2011. The Operational Framework will serve as a concrete tool for donors in implementing aid programmes. By using a common platform, the division of labour, increased alignment to partner country priorities and administrative systems, as well as improved technical cooperation, can be promoted. The intention is that the Operational Framework will be an evolving document and that additional chapters be added during future Presidencies in response to key priorities in the aid effectivness agenda.
The EU is at the fore-front of the international response to Climate Change. Development Ministers therefore had an orientation debate and adopted Council Conclusions on Climate Change and Development. Taking a medium to long-term perspective, the discussion focused on how development cooperation can integrate issues of climate change and how we can support partner countries in their work on coherence between continued development and addressing climate change. The development perspective of the international negotiations on Climate Change was addressed.
Policy Coherence for Development, PCD
Finally, Development Ministers has adopted Council Conclusions on Policy Coherence for Development and discussed how to take them forward in the new 2010-2013 work programme. Amongst the important issues is how to improve awareness of development perspectives and how to create and sustain political will in all relevant non-aid policy areas. Like, how can underlying conflicts between internal EU and development policy objectives be addressed, including the different roles of the EU institutions in the PCD work programme.