Sunday, December 17, 2006

ACP and EU civil society call for more transparency of aid

ACP and EU civil society back European, African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) parliamentarians who criticised the process of programming European aid for ACP countries during the 12th session of the ACP/EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) which took place until November 23 in Barbados.

CONCORD members (Eurostep, ActionAid International, Aprodev, and HelpAge International ) also organised activities and a lunch meeting with the European and the ACP members of parliaments to present their point of views. The parliamentarians agreed with the NGOs on a list of actions, such as asking the Development Committee of the European Parliament to request from the European Commission the power to scrutinise the country strategy papers of the ACP countries, to bring examples of consultation of ACP parliaments, and to organise a hearing on the programming of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

Discussions with the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Development, Louis Michel, highlighted the fact that aid is being used to serve Europe's economic and geopolitical interests rather than towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as a consequence of the lack of parliamentary oversight.

"I am surprised to see a Development Commissioner putting so much emphasis on 'improving' trade capacities of ACP countries as the key aid strategy to address poverty issues. We all know it is very risky to assume that trade liberalisation will benefit poor people and there is enough supporting evidence on the potential impact on small farmers' productive capacity," said Raphael Yves Pierre, ActionAid International Country Director in Haiti.

Members of the ACP/EU JPA also expressed concern on the potential use of European aid money to finance the repatriation of ACP migrants. "Using part of the 10th European Development Fund to send migrants back to their home country, instead of investing in sustainable poverty eradication, is not in line with the Cotonou Agreement' stated Angela Haynes from Help Age International.

Discussions in the ACP/EU JPA have also revealed that the failure to involve ACP parliaments in the 10th European Development Fund programming process has encouraged the allocation of EC aid to suit European migration and trade interests rather than the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals.

"A credible and legitimate European aid policy must involve national parliaments and civil society meaningfully throughout the programming phase, as stipulated in the Cotonou Agreement. A programming process conducted behind closed doors cannot meet the aspirations of people living in poverty," argued Florent Sebban, Policy Advisor at Eurostep.

See more information in the Euforic ACP-EU dossier.

Source: CONCORD Flash, November 2006.