Key questions ¦ Background ¦ Recommendations ¦ Post your comment

Key questions

  • How can the competing visions of EC aid objectives be reconciled with global commitments and partners’ priorities? Comment
  • How can the EC mitigate the risks to ownership posed by increased donor coordination? Comment
  • How can the EC ensure ownership in partner countries where either political will or capacity appears to be lacking? Comment
  • What modalities support collective alignment with the partner’s priorities? Comment

What is your opinion on these key questions? Do you have additional suggestions? You are invited to comment.


Partner country ownership is about more than a relationship between donor and government. It is also about parliaments, civil society groups and other actors, including the citizens of the partner countries, having a stake in decisions that get taken, even if this does not lead to universal agreement. This has all sorts of implications for how programme aid especially is planned, managed and evaluated.

While all those interviewed for our project so far felt that greater ownership was important to making aid more effective, they also felt that the Paris Declaration commitments in this area aren’t well known in developing countries, which suggests that ownership discussions are often defined and pushed by donors. Two key issues have been raised in relation to aid management and political dialogue: First, this is best improved in the field, through direct links to the partners’ administration, societal dynamic and institutions. So the process of devolution should be improved, as should the involvement of other stakeholders than central government officials.
Second, interviewees felt that ownership and partnership are only possible if there’s a minimum level of transparency about what donors are actually doing, and if donor activities are responding to locally determined priorities. In this context, some have underlined the risk of instrumentalising partners.

There is a widely perceived need to simplify, harmonise and align procedures as another precondition of partnership. Given the complexity of many EC aid procedures, most interviewees recognised that only EC staff or technical assistance can deliver the right format and respond adequately to all the EC reporting requirements, and that this inevitably limits ownership by partner governments. Some felt that the consequences of the choice of aid modalities on the partners’ institutional and political structures are not sufficiently thought through. For example, the increased use of budget support may carry a risk of concentrating too much power in ministries of finance, and of marginalising key line ministries from policy debates.

Please consult the initial discussion note for an in-depth discussion of these issues. You are invited to comment.


The following recommendations on EC aid objectives were made during our interviews with key groups of stakeholders. For an overall list of recommendations, click here.

  • 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 (comment);
  • Clarify what is expected in terms of monitoring/ reporting by ‘users’ (comment);
  • Address common challenges, such as migration, with the partners without instrumentalising them(comment);
  • Change the relation around aid: trust, dialogue, accountability including public information (comment);
  • 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.(comment);
    • Support the engagement of civil society in debates, but also in programming and implementation (comment);
    • Stimulate interest in EC aid policy, including within the European and national Parliaments (comment);
    • Increase public awareness on EC development cooperation in the EU and in partner countries(comment).

Share your recommendations.


2 Responses

  1. I hope the EU will reach out to new partners, instead of continuing to rely on existing partners. In my experience as a member of civil society in Pakistan, the EU’s requirements favour established organisations over newer ones. Since Calls for Submission of Proposals have requirements such as three years of audit reports, new organisations are at a clear disadvantage. Moreover, the skills and qualifications of individuals are crucial: strong organisations may have incompetent staff, while new organisations may have highly competent staff. Therefore, the EU should ask for CVs of those intending to manage the projects, in order to know their relevant experience and worth.

  2. Improvements in health delivery in Namibia and some African countries may only come about when there is Private-Public Ownership of EC Aid. Governments’ own aid will not benefit the people it is designed to assist.

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