Summary of the European Parliament meeting- Committee on Development -held in Brussels on 9 and 10 November 2009

The Committee on Development of the European Parliament has met on the 9th and 10th December to discuss several issues around EU development cooperation, one of them being the situation with Sudan, the Cotonou Revision, and Policy Coherence for Development.

Here you can read a summary of the EP Committee of Development:

Sudan and CPA
In reply to the question, the Commission representative confirmed that non-ratification of the revised Cotonou Agreement by Sudan prevented the European Community from implementing bilateral development cooperation under the Tenth European Development Fund (EDF) in Sudan and that it would not be able to disburse the EUR 300 million pledged at the May 2008 Sudan Consortium for the period 2008-2013. He pointed out, however, that development assistance under the Ninth EDF remained unaffected. The EC was also looking into possibilities of funding through other instruments such as the Instrument for Stability and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. He referred to possibilities under special conditions of thematic programmes under the Instrument for Development Cooperation. Humanitarian assistance would continue if necessary. The Commission has started discussions with Member States on the issue of avoiding any damaging reduction in support to the populations of Sudan. It has also made the first assessment of the impact in different sectors (agriculture and education) on the ground.

Policy Coherence for Development
In the introduction Ms F. Keller, Rapporteur on EU Policy Coherence for Development and the ‘Official Development Assistance concept’ briefly presented her report (DT– PE430.409v01-00). She was interested in the criteria used by the Commission for defining five priorities and how stakeholders were involved in the process of defining them as well as how the Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) would be implemented and measured. She noted that there were no references to the last European Parliament report.

The representative of the European Commission explained that the Communication was a separate document from the biannual report. The Report on PCD assesses the progress made in advancing coherence in 12 policy areas. The Communication contained two central messages. One was a more proactive approach in five priority challenges covering many policy areas and the second referred to leveraging financial flows to development other than Official Development Assistance. She added that the aim was to gain more political engagement in terms of PCD. She underlined that PCD was an additional instrument and a complex process involving many actors. A work programme would be developed. She briefly referred to particular points raised in the Parliament’s report regarding trade, timber, fisheries, finance, intellectual property rights and climate change.

Ms A. Maksimovic from Concord, a European NGO confederation for relief and development, presented the preferred approach of Concord to PCD and commented on the Commission’s proposals. She said that coherence was about ensuring that the external impacts of other EU policies did not undermine the aims and objectives of EU development cooperation. She was of the opinion that private financial flows or flows designated to stimulate economic growth did not necessarily have a poverty reduction focus and were less predictable. The politicisation of aid in the future institutional architecture ran the risk of moving away from the EU’s poverty eradication commitments.

Mr N. Keijzer from the European Centre for Development Policy Management talked about lessons learned from PCD research, the content of the draft Council conclusions to be adopted at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in November 2009, and the role of the EP Committee on Development in promoting PCD.

In the discussion Members thought that it would be useful to define what exactly was meant by policy coherence (Mr C. Goerens, Ms J. Sargentini (Greens/EFA, NL) and Ms I. Lövin (Greens/EFA, SE)). Mr Goerens thought that partners in developing countries should be consulted on the choice of priorities. Mr T. Berman expressed concerns about the reduction in the number of priorities.

In reply to questions from Members, the representative of the Commission explained how the priority issues were identified. With reference to the Parliament’s previous report, she pointed out that issues such as timber and fisheries were addressed in the Commission’s 2009 Report. She referred to guidelines on impact study analysis and the section relating to achieving development goals as well as the obligation for the Commission to consult partners that might be involved. As regards measuring coherence, she said that it should be improved and progress indicators developed. She referred to the chapter of the Report regarding assessing the impact of increased PCD against the Millennium Development Goals. She noted the increased needs of developing countries due among other things to the financial and economic crisis.

The second revision of the Partnership Agreement ACP-EC (the “Cotonou Agreement”)
Ms Joly, Rapporteur, invited Members to table amendments by 6 p.m. on 19 November 2009. Some Members made initial comments. Mr H. Désir (S-D, FR) referred to trade and agriculture in point 4 of the report. He said he would like to add topics such as tax havens and human rights. Human rights issues were also important for Mr M. Cashman. Mr C. D. Preda indicated that he might present amendments to the report in relation to points D, 13, 15 and on the role of the civil society.

The representative of the European Commission said that most of the aspects in the report had already been taken into account in the negotiations, apart from the issue of ‘land grabbing’. Agriculture would also be part of the discussions. He referred to the proposals regarding governance in fiscal matters. As the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, the non-discrimination clause would need to be introduced accordingly. The Commission would like civil society to have the opportunity to express its views.

Read the full document – pdf

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