About WECA

Background ¦ Objective & focus ¦ Methodology ¦ Timeline

Gwen Corre, Programme Officer at ECDPM, explains ‘Whither EC Aid?’

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The next five years will be decisive for the future direction of international development cooperation in general and European Union cooperation in particular. In 2005, wealthy countries pledged a considerable annual increase in global ODA and most of these pledges came from EU member states. Assuming that targets are met, by 2010 EU member states will account for three quarters of all aid flows, but there are unresolved questions about whether this increase will be effectively channelled through bilateral programmes or rather through the European Commission. The same questions apply to decisions on whether to cooperate on a programme basis or through macroeconomic assistance. The EC plays a crucial role in EU development cooperation, as a facilitator as well as a sizeable donor in its own right.

The 2005 Paris Declaration formulated a number of challenges facing development cooperation. The principles of ownership, alignment, harmonisation, managing for results and mutual accountability have become touchstones in debates about aid effectiveness. The EU (including the Commission) has been an important driving force behind the Paris Declaration, and has also committed itself to ambitious targets beyond the Paris goals. However, while the principles of the Paris Declaration seem to be broadly accepted, there is a lack of shared understanding of key underlying issues that shape the debate about EC aid effectiveness. Interviews with key stakeholders in EC aid show that their perceptions vary widely on important issues such as:

  • The objectives of EC development cooperation;
  • The areas in which EC aid provides added value compared to individual EU member states;
  • The directions of accountability over EC aid;
  • The most effective ways in which to ensure true ownership over development.

Without common understanding on these and other fundamental issues, it will prove extremely difficult to reach agreement on how to achieve the aid effectiveness targets to which the EU has subscribed. Moreover, these different views prevent consensus on how to establish whether these targets are actually achieved. In order to move forward on the road from Paris to Accra and beyond, it is therefore necessary to map the different perceptions and assumptions underlying the EC aid effectiveness debate.

Objective and focus of WECA

Both ActionAid and ECDPM have long track records of working on EU development policy. This project aims at taking stock of current perceptions and contributing to the discussion on where the pledged aid increases should be directed and how the EU should evolve as a donor. The main objective of the joint ECDPM-ActionAid project “Whither EC Aid?” (WECA) is to re-position the debate on monitoring the effectiveness of EC development cooperation. This will help to develop an evidence-based, common understanding of the characteristics, added value and impact of EC development cooperation. The outcome and impact of EC development cooperation as well as the process in which it is delivered will be analysed.

The project is divided into three phases (see also the methodology): a research phase, a consultation phase and a final report phase. In the first part of the project, ActionAid and ECDPM have drafted an initial discussion note, based on a review of available relevant literature and a series of interviews with around 30 decision-makers and experts from both Europe and developing countries. This note will serve as a basis for the debate.

A series of workshops and roundtables, together with a web-based consultation, forms the second part of the project, which is on-going. The aim of this phase is to generate more interactive and open discussions about the role and effectiveness of EC Aid, on the basis of the note.

Using the outcomes of the consultation and research phases, a final report on “Whither EC Aid?” will be written and completed in spring 2008. An official launch event will be organised, and the conclusions and recommendations will feed into the wider debate about aid effectiveness that will be further facilitated by AAI and ECDPM. In doing so, they will each cater to different stakeholders and employ their own particular methodologies.


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