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EU ministers agree future of development policy

At their meeting on 14 May 2012, EU development ministers concluded their discussions on:

EU Pacific Development Partnership

Strengthening resilience to food crisis in the Horn of Africa

Annual report on EU development aid targets

Future approach to EU budget support

Policy coherence for development

Increasing the impact of EU development policy and Agenda for Change

What is significant?
Firstly the ministers reaffirmed the priority of improved resilience to food crisis in the Horn of Africa, and underscored the importance these policies should play in the future funding architecture of the EU.

The Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs responded by announcing “an additional €250 million to affected countries of the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.

“We’ve also announced additional support worth €164.5 million to increase food security in the Sahel countries.”

A dangerous delay
While this intervention is indeed good news, it is true that warnings over the crisis have been neglected for too long providing a potentially dangerous delay in this meaningful response.

Aid targets
Secondly it is significant that the collective EU aid target of 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) by 2015 has been reaffirmed in this time of deep financial crisis.

The ministers also noted that for them to reach their aid targets member states need to take “realistic, and verifiable actions for meeting individual official development commitments (ODA) commitments by 2015,” and that the 18 off-track member states will have to “deploy the necessary additional measures”.

Policy coherence for development
In policy coherence for development the Ministers especially noted “the need for a more evidence-based approach and for improving coordination mechanisms within the EU institutions and the member states”.

EU budget support
Meanwhile, ministers agreed to continue to pursue budget support to third countries, but they also agreed a number of ways this instrument may be strengthened.

A new approach to budget support to third countries was set out, based on transparency, accountability and budget oversight as eligibility criteria for granting budget support.

The ministers also supported a reinforcing of EU coordination on budget support in both approach and implementation.

In sector-specific budget support they noted that while improved governance remains an important objective, this goal needs to be “carefully balanced against the need to provide and protect the provision of basic services, in particular to the poor, women and children”.

An Agenda for Change
But the most significant conclusions of the ministers was the redefinition of the future of EU development policy overall.

In an effort to improve the clarity of results and impact of aid the ministers agreed that the EU would focus on those countries and sectors where it can have the greatest impact.

It would also concentrate on two main targets:

1. promoting human rights, democracy and good governance

2. inclusive and sustainable growth for development.

Meanwhile, the ministers accepted the need for support for inclusive and sustainable growth to be focused primarily on social protection, health and education to which the ministers agreed to allocate at least 20% of EU aid.

 

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