Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Communication on Coherence: the reaction of the EU Coherence Programme

Source: Concord Flash 51, April 2008

Over the last few years the EU has taken on a number of fundamental development commitments, such as the adoption of the European Consensus in 2005, the processes on development financing and aid effectiveness, and the review of progress with reaching the Millennium Development Goals. The European Commission is responsible for monitoring actions and progress made within the European Union.

On 9 April the Commission published its long-awaited Communication on “Speeding up progress towards the Millennium Development Goals” and a “staff working paper” on Policy Coherence for Development (PCD). The EU Coherence Programme, which is a joint initiative of CONCORD and the Evert Vermeer Foundation, welcomes this further initiative as a sign of the EU’s commitment to policy coherence for development. However, political will is still needed to promote coherent policies for the benefit of developing countries.

With an eye to the Accra and Doha meetings later on in 2008, this communication can be seen as a first step in an attempt to formulate a common European position. It provides an insight into the progress made so far, highlights elements of special interest, and formulates priorities. The communication is accompanied by a number of staff working papers, focusing in substantial detail on issues such as aid for trade and policy coherence for development

The Communication focuses on migration, climate change and research. All three subjects are currently being intensively debated and the EU Coherence Programme wonders if the communication will be supported by most member states.

Regarding migration, the EU Coherence Programme favours the introduction of a legal framework for channelling the current migration flows from Africa. The proposal does not offer a solution to the problem of illegal migration, however, and could foster a brain drain involving highly skilled personnel in already sensitive sectors such as health care or education. Before the end of May the EU Coherence Programme will publish a case-study on the coherence of the current blue card proposal.

On the subject of biofuels, the EU Coherence Programme very much welcomes the emphasis on sustainability criteria. However, a regular review of the development impact of the current production of biofuels is needed, as the EU Coherence Programme stated in its case-study on biofuels. Finally, when it comes to research, the European Commission’s focus is mostly on the European benefits of a coherent research strategy. Also, the Commission states that ”These initiatives will be accompanied by development cooperation measures to strengthen research capacities in Development Countries”, without giving any concrete details.

The Staff Working Paper also concentrates on the priority areas of migration, climate change and research. But what about the nine remaining priority areas, such as agriculture, or fisheries? Given their importance for developing countries, further concretisation is definitely needed and the EU Coherence Programme would definitely welcome further working papers on these subjects.

The EU Coherence Programme sees the current communication as the first step in a process of further promoting coherent EU policies for the benefit of developing countries. The EU Coherence Programme hopes that its November 2007 publication, Policy Coherence for Development, a practical guide, has increased awareness amongst the Member States and Members of the European Parliament and has created strong support for measures to promote policy coherence. It is now up to the Member States to judge and show their political commitment to Policy Coherence for Development.

For more information contact Jasmine Burnley or Else Boonstra


See also Euforic's newsfeeds on CONCORD, Evert Vermeer Foundation, and coherence