EC Archive


EC fails with earth-friendly policy

According to a group of environmentalists, the European Commission has been too slow in advancing earth-friendly policies on agriculture and energy. Ten environmental organisations argue in a scorecard of the EU executive’s performance that the Commission has been too reserved across an array of conservation issues, chemicals regulation and pollution, and in some cases has retreated in the face pressure from lobbyists and EU national governments.

“Overall, we’re extremely concerned that the Commission is very behind in the race to create a better environment in Europe,” said Jorgo Riss of Greenpeace, one of the 10 groups involving in grading the Commission.

Speaking of agriculture as “the most important delivery mechanism for biodiversity and resource efficiency,” Tony Long of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), saidthat the Commission’s proposals for the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) have failed to make the link between farming, land management and biodiversity protection.
The report also says the Commission failed to strengthen the rural development pillar in its proposal that is now being reviewed by the Parliament and Council, “thus jeopardising one of the most useful parts of the CAP.”

Source: EurActiv,


European Commission has launched the new aid programming cycle

With no surprise, at their Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting on 14 May, the EU Member States (MS) welcomed the two communications produced by the EC aiming at reviewing and ‘modernising’ EU development cooperation policy and practice; the Agenda for Change and the Future approach on EU Budget Support.
The FAC conclusions on the Agenda for Change are very much aligned with the EC communication especially with regard to the focus on inclusive growth, private sector and blending of loans and grants. In other areas, however, they contain a few additional or slightly differing interesting elements. In particular, the council conclusions go much further than the EC communication in the area of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD). Indeed, in spite of its significance for an agenda based on growth, trade, investments and the role of the private sector, this issue was given very little attention in the EC communication. Thanks to the leadership the Danish Presidency supported by a few other Member States, the HR Ashton who chairs the FAC and all Council members finally decided to adopt separate conclusions on PCD. The essence of these conclusions is to recognise that PCD is an important element in the Council Conclusions on an Agenda for Change, which complements the EU development policy framework and to agree on the need for a more evidence-based approach and for improving coordination mechanisms and implementation within the EU institutions and the MS.
Particularly welcome is also the following statement: ‘the EU and its Member States remain firmly committed to the goal of eradicating poverty, as set out in the Lisbon Treaty and the European Consensus on Development, and, convinced of the catalytic role of ODA, reaffirm their commitment to achieve all their development aid targets, including the collective 0.7% ODA target to be reached by 2015. See also the separate council conclusions on ODA targets adopted at the same FAC meeting.
CONCORD members also appreciate the absence of any reference to ‘value for money’ in the council conclusions on the Agenda for Change while the principles of mutual accountability and ownership are emphasised. Certain elements of the following text in the paragraph on governance come directly from CONCORD’s recommendations to MS: ‘the EU and its Member States will support and promote an enabling environment for an independent, pluralistic and active civil society in partner countries, building on the Structured Dialogue. Awareness raising and development education are part of this. Successful development cooperation also requires significant progress on gender equality, empowerment and opportunities for women, including through political and policy dialogue, gender mainstreaming in policies and programmes, and specific actions’.
The Council position with regards to the nexus between security and development is more ambiguous with no clear intention to adopt an EU action plan on situations of fragility and conflict as suggested in the EC communication but a mention of ‘the development of a comprehensive strategy, taking into account previous Council Conclusions’. The conclusions also state that the EU and its Member States shall pursue actions to implement the New Deal for engagement in fragile states, as set out in the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. The FAC conclusions also mention the still open and undefined concept of resilience: Fostering developing countries’ resilience to national and global shocks and crises is key to their sustainable development. It requires integrating resilience and disaster risk reduction in development programmes and linking humanitarian relief and development cooperation. Likewise, strong coordination between the EU’s climate and development policies is vital. This commitment is reinforced in the separate Council conclusions on Strengthening Resilience to Food Crises in the Horn of Africa where the Council invites the Commission to follow up with further proposals on building resilience in drought prone areas including a Communication before the end of 2012 (see separate article in Humanitarian aid section). Resilience and food security is also on top of the agenda of the Cyprus presidency between July and December 2012.
In the chapter of the conclusions dealing with implementation of the Agenda for Change, the MS strongly support EC proposal to focus EU aid both in terms of sectors (inclusive growth and governance) and countries. The differentiation between countries based on the criteria suggested in the EC proposal and the priority for cooperation with Africa and neighbouring countries are welcome but the Council states that the EU will also continue to cooperate with other countries and regions, such as in Latin America and Asia, that are key partners in responding to global challenges and where poverty and inequalities remain widespread. MS are also committed to improving aid coordination at EU level and to organise a joint programming of aid in a few pilot countries under the leadership of EU delegations.
At a debriefing session with Civil Society, Commissioner Piebalgs expressed its satisfaction with regard to the support and backing of Member States in favour of the EC new approach on Budget support. The EC is comforted in its objective of maintaining Budget Support, and more particularly sectoral budget support, as a way to improve aid effectiveness as well as the effectiveness and governance of public policies and services in developing countries. In that area as well, MS are ready to improve coordination and joint assessment with the view to provide coordinated and consistent EU responses.
The Council conclusions on the Agenda for Change close with these words: the principles contained in these Conclusions will guide the design and implementation of external action instruments under the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020. However, even before the new legal bases for future cooperation instruments are adopted (expected to take place somewhere in 2013), the Agenda for Change already forms the backbone of the instructions to EU delegations for the programming of bilateral cooperation with developing countries that is starting right now and concerns all developing countries covered by the DCI (Asia, Latin America, Middle East) and the EDF (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific).
Main novelties of the programming process are:
– Country differentiation implies that no programming process will take place is the 19 upgraded countries of Asia and Latin America and that the launch of the programming is postponed in around 20 Middle Income countries of the ACP group until a final decision on how differentiation will apply to this group of countries is taken.
– The country or region multiannual indicative programmes (MIP) will become the central element of the process and no country strategy paper will be necessary in case the national development strategy of the country is judged sufficient or a joint EU strategy/cooperation framework exists for the country or the region or the national envelope is lower than 50 million euros. The MIP will concentrate on 3 sectors maximum per country (at the exception of fragile states that may need a more flexible approach).
– In countries eligible for bilateral aid, the first phase of the process, supposed to end by 30th September 2012, comprises the analysis of the national development plan and the outline of the EU response with a proposal for maximum 3 priority sectors. This first phase is key and is supposed to take place in consultation with the partner government, national parliament, CSOs and private sector, EU MS and other donors. Priority sectors should preferably be in line with the broad objectives of the agenda for change. Examples of sectors listed under objective one – Human rights, democracy and good governance: democracy, human rights and the rule of law; gender equality and the empowerment of women; public sector management; tax policy and administration; fight against corruption; civil society and local authorities; sustainable and transparent management of natural resources and Development-security nexus. Example of sectors listed under objective two – Inclusive growth: business environment, productive capacities and investments; regional integration and international trade; education; health; employment and social protection; sustainable agriculture, fisheries and food security and sustainable energy. Note that priority sectors of cooperation for each region will be included in the annexes of the legal basis of the DCI that have to be approved by the Council and the Parliament.
– After 2 months of internal consultation by EC and EEAS headquarters, the delegations will receive instructions for the second phase and the preparation of the MIP. At that stage (end 2012 – beginning of 2013), regional programming seminars with the presence of Commissioner Piebalgs could be organised. In addition delegations should maintain dialogue and consultation as in the first phase.
– For ACP-countries, in line with the Cotonou Agreement, a specific allocation may be set aside for supporting CSOs and Local Authorities (LA), in addition to the 3 priority sectors.
– After consultation of MS at field level, the EU delegation may judge that a joint programming is feasible. It seems that it is the case for 5 countries only: Guatemala, Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda and Nepal.
– The preparation of the regional multiannual indicative programmes will start later.


Future European cooperation instruments

In the EuropeanUnion, donors are working towards modernising development policy and practice,with the aim of ensuring that it becomes more relevant, efficient, andresults-oriented. Political and policy levels currently adapt to the new globalcontext for aid and international cooperation. In November 2011 developmentpartners endorsed a new global framework during the fourth high-level forum onaid effectiveness – the Busan Partnership for Effective DevelopmentCooperation.[1]The Accra Agenda for Action expanded the notion of ownership from ‘government’to ‘country’ ownership.[2]Busan goes one step further with its commitment to “democratic ownership”: itstresses the governance dimensions of development by recognising the criticalrole that parliaments, civil society and local authorities play in promotingdomestic accountability and the need to improve interactions between governmentadministrations, checks and balance institutions and citizens. Busan has underlinedthe importance of ownership and further insisted on the use ofsystems-approaches, with any deviance explained to beneficiary countries.

Beyond institutionalchanges affecting development cooperation, the Lisbon Treaty gives increasedprominence to poverty eradication. It is now integrated in the EU Treaties asthe primary objective of EU development cooperation; it has become one of theobjectives of EU external action and, finally, it is reflected in the overallvalues that are to be upheld and promoted by the EU. The provision on PolicyCoherence for Development (PCD) that requires the EU to take account ofdevelopment objectives in policies affecting developing countries haseffectively been strengthened. All in all, the treaty changes are geared toallow the EU to become a stronger international player and step up itscontributions to international development.[3]

The overall challengefor development cooperation posed by the translation into practice of theLisbon Treaty is whether the Treaty will be effectively used to increase policycoherence for development in EU external action. The debate is not just an EUinstitutional one, but reflects a wider trend towards seeing development asbest achieved through an integrated international cooperation effort thatincludes policy inputs from different sectors, including developmentcooperation, working together in a coherent manner to promote development.

The policy challengefor the EU is to find the correct balance in addressing poverty reductionobjectives and activities whilst promoting strategic objectives in ways thatdeliver optimal outcomes, and in the mutual interests of the EU and partnercountries.[4]A new generation of financial instruments and country and regional strategieswill be drawn up and implemented from 2014-2020, the timeframe of the next EUbudget.

InOctober 2011 the EC issued a Communication on “Increasing the Impact of EUDevelopment Policy: An Agenda for Change”.[5]The document proposes two major innovations: (1) Improving impact, by targetingaid to countries where highest impact can be achieved (through a differentiatedapproach to aid allocation) and by focusing on two priority areas: “governance,democracy and human rights” and “sustainable and inclusive growth”. (2)Ensuring best value for money, by promoting coordinated EU action and improvingpolicy coherence for development.

Fourgeographic instruments are complemented with six thematic instruments,which prioritise the list of EU global objectives. Programming under thegeographic instruments is a joint exercise with partner countries, conducted atcountry level and aligned to national priorities and national developmentstrategies. This approach emphasises country ownership of developmentstrategies. Unlike the geographic instruments, which are, in principle,supposed to be based on shared analyses of local needs and conditions and jointresponse strategies, the thematic instruments are based on the EU’s ownstrategy objectives and global priorities. They mix ODA with non-ODA funds.

TheDevelopment Cooperation Instrument (DCI) contains a set of cross-cuttingthematic programmes that apply to all developing countries (including the ACPcountries that are funded by the EDF, and the ENPI countries). Although thethematic programmes are not based on joint analyses of the priorities ofdeveloping countries, they must be consistent with the overall objectives,principles and policy prescriptions of the DCI. Whereas geographic instrumentsfocus mostly on intra-government development cooperation, non-state actors arethe principal beneficiaries of thematic programmes.

TheEuropean Commission adopted budget proposals to implement the MultiannualFinancial Framework for its external instruments from 2014-2020 on 29 June2011. The total amount proposed for these nine instruments is €96,249.4 millionover the period 2014-2020 (current prices). The Development CooperationInstrument (DCI) is earmarked with €23,295 million. The package will betransmitted to the European Parliament and the Council and is expected to beadopted in 2012.

Figure: Proposed budget for the Multiannual FinancialFramework 2014-2020[6]

European Development Fund (EDF, outside EU Budget)

€34,276 million

Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI)

€23,295 million

European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI)

€18,182 million

Pre-accession instrument (IPA)

€14,110 million

Instrument for Stability (IfS)

€2,829 million

Partnership Instrument (PI)

€1,131 million

European Instrument for Democracy & Human Rights (EIDHR):

€1,578 million

Asignificant share of EU aid is delivered in the form of budget support:financial transfers to government budgets in developing countries, coupled withpolicy dialogue, performance assessment and capacity building. The Commissionproposes to make it more effective and efficient in delivering developmentresults by strengthening the contractual partnerships with developingcountries.

Themain principles of the 12-point Agenda for Change will be progressivelyreflected in the remainder of the current programming cycles and then in futureEU programming. In spring 2012, the Commission will ask EU DevelopmentMinisters to endorse the Agenda for Change as well as the new EU budget supportapproach which seeks to make budget support more effective and efficient indelivering development results and proposes more EU coordination.

InDecember 2011, the Commission proposed a regulation for the new externalassistance instrument, revealing details of the future external action.[7] Future EU assistance shallbe implemented through geographic, thematic and the Pan-African programmes andin accordance with the Common Implementing Regulation.

Inthe context of the renewed approach to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP),the new ENI Instrument will provide streamlined support to the same 16 partnercountries as the previous European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument(ENPI). The EU will continue its support to enlargement countries through arenewed Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA), that will help thesecountries implement the comprehensive reform strategies needed to prepare forfuture membership, with emphasis on regional cooperation, implementation of EUlaws and standards, capacity to manage the Union’s internal policies upon accession,and delivery of tangible socio-economic benefits in the beneficiary countries.

Table: Common Areas of Cooperation under GeographicProgrammes



I. Human rights, democracy and other key elements of good governance

(a) Democracy, human rights and the rule of law;

(b) Gender equality and the empowerment of women;

(c) Public sector management;

(d) Tax policy and administration;

(e) Corruption;

(f) Civil society and local authorities;

(g) Natural resources; and

(h) Development-security nexus.

II. Inclusive and sustainable growth for human development

(a) Social protection, health, education and jobs;

(b) Business environment, regional integration and world markets; and

(c) Sustainable agriculture and energy.

III. Other areas of significance for Policy Coherence for Development

(a) Climate change and environment;

(b) Migration and asylum; and

(c) Transition from humanitarian aid and crisis response to long-term development cooperation.

The”Global public goods and challenges” thematic programme aims atstrengthening cooperation, exchange of knowledge and experience and partnercountries’ capacities. Human development is among the strongly interconnectedareas of cooperation within this thematic programme.

Table: Human development within the “Global PublicGoods and Challenges” thematic programme



(a) Growth, jobs and private sector engagement

More and better jobs, multilateral trading system, private sector development and business environment, industrial innovation and technology policies, trade policies and agreements, green economy, resource efficiency and sustainable consumption, use of electronic communications, ICT infrastructure and services

(b) Employment, skills, social protection and social inclusion

Productive and decent employment, vocational training for employability, decent work, fight against child labour, social dialogue, labour mobility, social cohesion, social protection systems, social inclusion, employment for all, rights of specific groups, notably youth, persons with disabilities, women and minority groups to let all population participate and benefit from wealth creation and cultural diversity.

(c) Gender equality and women empowerment

Women’s economic and social empowerment and political participation; aid effectiveness agenda.

(d) Health

Increasing access to, and equitable provision of, good quality essential public health services

(e) Education, knowledge and skills

Promoting knowledge, skills and values for sustainable and inclusive development; development of education systems; education, including for vulnerable groups, women and girls, and countries furthest from achieving global targets.

Thefollowing cross-cutting issues shall be mainstreamed in all programmes: thepromotion of human rights, gender equality, women empowerment,non-discrimination, democracy, good governance, the rights of the child andindigenous peoples’ rights, social inclusion and the rights of persons withdisabilities, environmental sustainability including addressing climate changeand combating HIV/AIDS.[8]Particular attention shall be given to strengthening the rule of law, improvingaccess to justice and supporting civil society, trade and sustainabledevelopment, access to ICTs, health and food security, as well as promotingdialogue, participation and reconciliation, and institution-building.[9]



[3] van Seters, J. and H. Klavert. 2011. EUdevelopment cooperation after the Lisbon Treaty: People, institutions andglobal trends. (Discussion Paper 123). Maastricht: ECDPM.

[4] Gavas, Mikaela et. al., The EU’s Multi-Annual Financial Frameworkpost-2013: Options for EU development cooperation. European Think Tanks Groupbriefing paper. London: ODI, June 2011,


[7] COM(2011) 840 final. The EuropeanParliament and of the Council have to respond to this proposal in the comingweeks.

[8] COM(2011) 840 final, II.3.2 .

[9] COM(2011) 840 final, II.3.3.


EC opens gateway to China for European small and medium size enterprises

Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission has launched the Centre for
European Union Small and Medium Enterprises (EU SME Centre) in Beijing on 5 November.
Funded by the European Commission, this new venture will provide information, advice, training and matchmaking opportunities for European SMEs wishing to export to or invest in the Chinese market.


EC launches public consultation to improve budget support to developing countries

Over the past decade, the European Commission has increasingly used general and sector budget support to ACP countries as preferred aid modalities. This choice was motivated by the commitment of donors to make aid more effective. But despite the potential of the new generation of budget support and the so-called ”sector wide approach”, budget support has come under pressure within donors and partner countries for a variety of reasons. Therefore, the European Commission has launched a public consultation ( to solicit the views of stakeholders. It seeks to find out and socialise what has and hasn’t worked with a view to improving the EC’s approach to budget support. The basis of the consultation is an EC green paper ( which focuses on: i) political governance and the role of political dialogue; ii) the role of policy dialogue and conditionality and links to performance and results; iii) domestic and mutual accountability; iv) programming of budget support and its coherence with other instruments; v) strengthening risk assessment and dealing with fraud and corruption; vi) budget support in situations of fragility; and vii) growth, fiscal policy and mobilisation of domestic revenues. ECDPM is working primarily on the dimension of domestic accountability in relation to budget support and sector wide approaches. Source: ECDPM.


New information on Aid for Trade from the EC

The European Commission has published a new document on Aid for Trade. This publication provides a clearer picture of this development assistance strategy. It examines the broad scope of Aid for Trade, explains the key types of Aid for Trade under the themes of ‘‘narrow” Aid for Trade (Trade Related Assistance) and ‘‘Wider” Aid for Trade, emphasizes EU’s strong commitment to Aid for Trade agenda and provides information on EU’s Aid for Trade activities in Africa.


Annual report on EC aid reviews progress towards better delivery

The European Commission disbursed € 8.5 billion in aid during 2007, representing 9% of total Community expenditures, according to the recently released annual report on EC aid. Top regions for EC assistance were Sub-Saharan Africa (33%), Asia (17%), and Europe (16%); and 23% of aid was given through budget support. In its review of the results of the year’s evaluations of EC aid, the report notes several major positive impacts e.g. on the social sectors in India, economic stability in Jordan and Mozambique, the water sector in Jordan, food security in Mozambique, and economic integration in Central America. However, there is a lack of sustainability in implementation strategies, as ensuring ownership by partner country stakeholders receives insufficient attention. Recurrent weaknesses in efficiency are reported to be due to delays in implementation, lack of flexibility and cumbersome procedures which also limit the effectiveness of Commission actions.

While the high quality of projects within some sectors (such as rural development) is recognized, there is often a poor impact on sectoral policy of partner countries. An impressive increase in aid expenditures has been realised, but at the risk of compromising the quality of the interventions. Good results regarding devolution, especially when delegations are flexible enough to adapt to the specific context, are counterbalanced by overly fragmented visions and insufficient coordination among sectors in delegations. The Commission has a particular value added in its regional programming; however, the linkage between national and regional programmes is often weak.

Drawing upon on the EC’s Results Oriented Monitoring system, the report concludes that relevance has increased as devolution has led to projects that respond better to local needs. However, problems with predictability of funds hinder both efficiency and the achievement of results (effectiveness). Ex-post monitoring has demonstrated that, in general, lessons are not being applied. Although most projects have detailed reporting systems, there are very few cases of projects that systematically record their positive and negative experiences with a view to identifying the most appropriate guidance. This lack of capacity to identify and acknowledge how success has been achieved means that the same errors are continuously repeated. In 2008, the EC will work on developing a system for better collecting and disseminating transferable lessons and best practices.
Full report:


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