Recommendations for changes to EC aid policies and practice

The following is a list of recommendations that were made during the interviews in response to our request to stakeholders to propose 3 suggestions for change in EC aid to better address poverty reduction. These points are listed below without any additional analysis on the part of the authors.

What are your thoughts on how to improve EC aid policy and practice? Share your own recommendations.

Added Value of EC Development Cooperation

To add value to the individual aid programmes of EU Member States, the EC has to:

  • Focus aid more on poverty reduction:
    • Understand better and agree on the relative importance of different objectives such as poverty reduction, economic development;
    • Use the MDGs more systematically;
    • Understand poverty better in its distinct forms and features: chronic, according to vulnerable groups, in fragile country, etc.;
    • Understand poverty as a process (not just quantifying assets);
  • Understand better and agree on key concepts in development cooperation;
  • Untie EU aid, so partner countries can freely chose which products and services to buy from aid money;
  • Get all EU Member States and the Commission to work with common objectives, country strategies and a unified delivery mechanism;
    • Establish one ‘European House’ in each country instead of many embassies.

Policy, Budget and Institutional Architecture for EC Development Cooperation

The EC needs to re-think its policy focus, budget and institutions as follows:

  • Change the understanding of aid monitoring and effectiveness:
    • Change from a disbursement logic to a performance logic;
    • Launch research with different stakeholders to improve impact measurement tools;
  • Practical experience from the field has to be taken into account at EU Council of Ministers debate before Accra;
  • Integrate horizontal issues such as gender, environment, conflict-sensitivity etc. better in all programmes.

Policy reform and implementation

The EC needs to reform the policy and implementation of its aid as follows:

  • Make sure that new ‘frameworks’ (mechanisms, policy guidelines, etc) are implemented;
  • Make progress in joint programming between the Commission and Member States;
  • Use EDF 10 as a test case on a number of key reform issues such as joint programming, division of labour in practice and better ownership of the governance agenda;
  • Improve the recruitment and training of staff involved with development policy;
  • Increase devolution of responsibilities to the field;
  • Adapt the perception between policies and impact on poverty reduction.

Accountability and monitoring for impact

The EC needs to be more accountable, and improve monitoring of the impact of its aid. It needs to:

  • Promote a more informed debate on whose ownership, because in working together to make aid more effective, EU donors are facing competing demands: accountability to the final beneficiaries, to their national tax payers and to their cooperating donor countries;
  • Change the relation around aid: trust, dialogue, accountability including public information;
  • Make a collective effort to widen and deepen the debate on EC Aid (MS, EP, NGOs) beyond the usual obligatory and rather consensual exercise;
    • Need to step out from a bilateral EC-government relation and involve other stakeholders (parliaments, local authorities, NGOs) in programming, monitoring, evaluation etc.;
    • Support the engagement of civil society in debates, but also in programming and implementation;
    • Stimulate interest in EC aid policy, including within the European and national Parliaments;
    • Increase public awareness on EC development cooperation in the EU and in partner countries;
  • Clarify what is expected in terms of monitoring/ reporting by ‘users’;
  • Address common challenges, such as migration, with the partners without instrumentalising them.

4 Responses

  1. I believe most of you have seen the Financial Times report quoting new research from the International Energy Agency. Basically the rising cost of oil has wiped out the benefits many African countries were expecting from western aid and debt relief over the past three years. (See:
    Basically I think that the aid debate needs to find synergies with the climate change/peak oil debate (and if we want to be more ambitious we can even kick start a debate to potentially re-frame the “aid debate” within a “democratisation of energy/peak oil/climate change” debate.)
    In particular if we want an aid agenda that is “recipient” driven rather that donor driven, we need to make an effort to better understand the energy needs at grassroots level, engage with an appropriate technology perspective, and within the north re-view aid within a framework of sharing of alternative energy technology.

  2. Might it be useful to reflect on the little matter of just who aids whom? In 2006 for example, “developing economies” transferred to the “developed countries” about $658 billion, net of all aid, investment &c. going in the other direction. Nearly $100 billion of that came from Africa. And by the way, those flows are only those that the UN was able to register for its World Economic Situation report of 2007. Unrecorded capital flight, transfer pricing &c. would make the real totals even more obscene. Perhaps we need studies and roundtables about the “added value”, “architecture” and “accountability and monitoring of impact” of aid flows from the poor to the rich.

  3. EU aid should link relief rehabilitation and development in post conflict areas.

  4. I have been working on the idea of constructing a Global Public Good of access to financial services, and public bodies would have a very distinct role in the provision of the necessary inputs to develop the public aspect (central bank, regualtors, credit bureaux, consumer rights, property rights, rule of law etc.) of a truly inclusive financial sector in developing nations.
    It would also offer the chance for non-financial ODA, lowers the opportunity for corruption, and also offers opportunities for complementary investment (civil society and private)

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