Roundtable at AidCo, European Commission, Brussels 12 March

After holding a number of workshops in Europe and one in Kigali, Rwanda, the first in a series of group discussions in partner countries, the consultation process of the WECA project moved on with the organisation of a roundtable at the European Commission’s Directorate-General EuropeAid Cooperation Office (AidCo). Around 8 high-level representatives of Aidco attended, including Director-General Koos Richelle.

The participants’ wide-ranging comments reflected a high-level of interest on the part of EuropeAid to be indeed involved in WECA and its outcomes. After an introduction to the WECA project – objectives, process and first outcomes – participants engaged in discussions on a number of issues emerging from the Discussion Note, in particular with regard to EC development policy reform and implementation and to the issue of accountability and monitoring for impact.

The participants insisted on the EC’s ‘uncomfortable’ position referring to being seen and assessed as the EU’s ‘28th donor’, while being commonly accepted as an influential body (i.e. on MS and in the international scene). On the issue of impact evaluation of aid, there has been a collective acknowledgement on the urgent need to shift from a commitments – or disbursements – to a results-based approach. During the discussion, a wide-range of issues, such as budget support and the concept of poverty reduction were raised. A participant refuted the widespread idea that the EC aid effectiveness is impeded by bureaucracy and that it is not enough focusing on poverty reduction, arguing that the EC’s donor performance is scrutinized much more closely than that of others.

Report – .doc | .pdf

List of participants – .doc| .pdf

Comment of Koos Richelle, AIDCO Director.

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Roundtable in Kigali, Rwanda, 4 March

Two roundtables were held in Kigali, Rwanda on the 4th of March. The first one consisted of employees from the Rwandan Government and the Donor community and the second of representatives from the local Civil Society.

The main questions for discussion included:

  • To what extent are Rwandan development priorities supported by the EC’s aid architecture and management and how might this be improved?
  • How should the EC discharge its responsibility for accountability to its various stakeholders in the partner countries and also in the EU?
  • Accra and beyond: which key aid effectiveness targets should be priorities for the EC?

Report with government and donors: .doc | .pdf

Report with CSOs: .doc | .pdf

List of participants: .doc / .pdf

Comment of Francine Kassana, participant and Representative of the International NGO COR.

Comment of Theresa Karugwiza, Country Director of Action Aid Rwanda.

Article on Power, Knowledge and Home Grown Solutions

The Forum on the Future of Aid is an online community dedicated to research and opinions about how the international aid system currently works and where it should go next.

An article was recently posted on their website treating the global imbalance in deciding what development theories and policies are to be accepted. The author, Norman Girvan, emphasises that this imbalance is in contradiction with the idea of home grown solutions to development recently encouraged at an OECD workshop.

Roundtable Madrid 22 February

On Friday, 22 February a roundtable took place in the Casa de Galicia, in Madrid, Spain. The event was organised together with European think tank FRIDE. With 16 participants from development NGOs, the NGO platform CONGDE, central and decentralised governmental donors, including DGPOLDE (General Directorate for the Planning and Evaluation of Development Policies in the State Secretariat for International Cooperation), FIIAPP and academia, it was a lively and well attended event.

Participants mentioned their interest in the Discussion Note, which they found echoed the important issues and perceptions in a very concise manner. They appreciated the event as a timely debate coming just one week after the latest round of consultations on the multilateral strategy. This strategy will inform the forthcoming Spanish Master Plan for development cooperation 2009-2012, in which multilateralism and relations with the European Commission, the implementation of the Paris Declaration as well as Division of Labour will be main features.

Stakeholders intend to use the impetus of the roundtable to contribute to arriving at a Spanish position on the role of the Commission in EU development cooperation, in particular as a financing channel and as an amplifier of Spain’s voice in the international context.

Discussions covered a wide range of subjects, from a common vision and shared objectives for EU aid, to the importance of ownership, measuring impact and complex accountability structures, as well as the implications of Division of Labour. The debates took place against the background of the Spanish context, which is particularly interesting for the EU debate. It is characterised by a high fragmentation of actors with a record in issues of coordination and coherence: a quarter of bilateral aid is given through the autonomous regions according to their own policies and priorities. Almost half of the total ODA is channelled multilaterally, through the European Commission (16.7% in 2007) or multilateral organisations. In 2006, only 17% of ODA was implemented by the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation AECID of the Ministry for Foreign Relations. Spain also has a large NGO community and is still implementing a very minor share of ODA through “new instruments” such as budget support (1.3% in 2008 ) and others.

While some participants felt that Spain was entering the discussions late, others suggested transforming precisely this delay into Spain’s added value. It can give Spain the opportunity to introduce new perspectives and caveats based on first field experiences such as the transformation of the donor landscape in Nicaragua. Spain can sound a note of caution with regard to implementation, for example by demanding a stronger EU focus on democratic ownership.

List of participants – .doc |.pdf
Report .doc |.pdf

Video statements of participants in the roundtable

David Ortiz, EU Board Member, CONGDE, emphasizes the need to translate words into actions

[blip.tv ?posts_id=780925&dest=-1]

7 sec.

Nils-Sjard Schultz, Researcher, FRIDE on Spains possible contribution to the EC policy[blip.tv ?posts_id=780938&dest=-1]

28 sec.

Stefan Meyer, Researcher, FRIDE about democratic ownership

[blip.tv ?posts_id=780942&dest=-1]

1 min 22 sec.

‘D+C’ journal issue on Donor Harmonisation and the EU

D+C (Development and Cooperation), a monthly journal funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, focuses on donor harmonisation and the EU in its February issue. The entire issue is available for free here.

Specific articles of interest to EU donor harmonisation include:

OECD Journal on Development: Development Co-operation report 2007

OECD recently published their annual report on development cooperation.

The report includes a “report-cart” on aid efforts, lessons learnt from peer reviews on aid effectiveness and the worlds most comprehensive statistics on development co-operation. It also treats the context in which OECD DAC’s development work is being done and gives an introduction of the different aid programmes and performances of the different DAC members as well as important players outside the OECD.

More informaton

Download the report

Conference on the Challenges of the EU-27 Development Policy

The Slovenian State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andrej Šter, on 19 February hosted the Conference on the Challenges of EU-27 Development Policy, which was attended by development ministers from EU Member States and the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel. Among other issues, the participants discussed the efficiency of development cooperation.

State Secretary Šter highlighted the importance of efficient development cooperation and added that the ambitions in this area remained clear, which means that eight development goals should be attained by 2015. “We are aware that attention should be given to the areas in which the achievement of the Millennium development goals will require particular efforts; in this context, Africa is one of the key partners of the European Union,” Šter said. Also in this context, he went on to say, it is necessary to stress the importance of policy coherence in development cooperation, both at the EU level and at the level of the Member States. “In this area the European Union has set up appropriate policies and mechanisms; however, we must strengthen and intensify our efforts.”

“Now is the right moment to think about the future development cooperation of the EU,” continued State Secretary Šter, and emphasised challenges such as climate change, peace and security, respect for human rights, removing trade barriers, and fulfilment of basic human needs.

Within the technical seminar accompanying the conference, the participants, whose aim was to strengthen the efficiency of development aid and to integrate a broad spectre of the relevant actors in EU development cooperation, tried to introduce the financial mechanisms of EU development cooperation to the relevant subjects in the Member States, such as non-governmental organisations, local communities and business people.

Source: Slovenian EU Presidency website. The full text of the opening address by State Secretary Šter can be viewed here.