Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Living up to the expectations of the Lisbon Treaty?

Brussels, 26 February 2008. The second panel of the Friends of Europe Development Policy Forum roundtable covered a range of issues, emphasizing not so much how signatories would abide by the Lisbon Treaty but how they could live up to its expectations. We heard about the Lisbon "double hat", an African based Commissioner, a need to merge DG Development and EuropeAid, and a treaty which just describes what already happens.

Jean De Ruyt, Belgian Ambassador to the EU, emphasized that many aspects of the Lisbon Treaty still needed to be clarified. Of key importance to him was the creation of the "double hatted" high representative who would have responsibilities for both CFSP and External Assistance. This would ensure consistency between development aid and foreign policy. Moreover, the issues written into the Treaty such as the link between security and development, the central aim for eradication of poverty, a neutral and non-discriminatory approach, meant that it would be a question of living up to treaty rather than abiding by it.

Mr. Hany El Banna of Islamic Relief Worldwide gave a perspective from outside Europe. He felt that it was important for Europe to ensure that the external assistance planning takes into account the increasing cultural diversity in Europe. He highlighted the changing ethnic diversity of Europe in the next 20 years suggesting that a Development Commisioner would be needed no matter how EU aid was administered. Moreover, this person should perhaps be based, or at least spend much time, in developing countries.

Dirk Messner, director of the German Development Institute (DIE) concluded that the Lisbon Treaty has not weakened development policy but has actually stated existing goals morfe clearly. He pointed to the interdependence of the world in addressing global issues such as climate adaptation with integrated development policies. He also felt it was not convincing to have two EU organizations, one dealing with ACP countries the other dealing on a different basis with the rest of the world. There still seem to be two options for the emerging external service, one including development administration the other keeping it apart. The key role for the Treaty in his view is its ability to provide a framework for the 27 Member States to work within a European framework where different actors share the lead.

Klaus Rudischhauser, Director for ACP General Affairs in DG Development, emphasized that a discussion on the Treaty at this stage was rather speculative. However, he observed that the treaty is not a danger for development policy but instead puts down on paper what is already happening. He also stressed that development issues are already considered in tandem with foreign policy. Finally, he pointed to joint discussions with DG Defence on security issues. The MDGs are still at the centre of the treaty and the partnership focus of development cooperation is continued under the Cotonou Agreement until 2020.

by Chris Addison

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