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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Will the EU take the lead on aid effectiveness and the MDGs?

Source: EU News, nr. 5, June/July 2008

Many meetings have taken place in the last weeks around the preparation of the third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness to take place in Accra between 2 and 4 September. At European level, the Commission prepared an EU position for Accra to be discussed with the Development Group of the EU Council and the COREPER before 16 July. It is based on the conclusions adopted by the GAERC in May (see EU News 4).

On 19 and 20 June, the EU Heads of States adopted quite disappointing conclusions with regard to aid volumes and an action plan on the MDGs. The conclusions represent a mere confirmation of previous commitments. On an EU Agenda for Action on the MDGs, the Summit conclusions are even more disappointing: The European Council welcomes the EU Agenda for Action on MDGs. The EU proposes to its partners in development to share this agenda,…

The EU agenda for action on the MDGs, was adopted by the Council through a written procedure finalised on 18 June. It contains commitments by the EU to contribute to filling the gaps identified by UN organisations (WHO on health or UNESCO on education) in achieving the MDGs. The same kind of rough estimate and commitment is made on health with the expectation of increasing EU support by € 8 billion by 2010, of which almost €6 billion would be for Africa. The support in the sector of environment (including water and sanitation) would increase by 2 billion.

All targets and figures are based on the assumption that EU aid will increase according to the 2005 commitments (0.56% by 2010), that the share of EU aid in global ODA will remain at the level of 60% and that the percentage of EU aid allocated to the different MDGs will remain at its present level. The realisation of the action plan is therefore strongly dependent on an increase in EU aid volumes. Hence, the observed decrease of EU ODA in 2007 compared to 2006 and the reluctance of certain Member States to establish firm timetables on how aid increases will be delivered cast doubt over EU credibility and commitments on the MDGs.

In parallel, the European Commission has commissioned an “independent commentary” on progress towards the MDGs from a group of researchers led by former World Bank chief economist Fran├žois Bourgignon. The paper aims to situate efforts to fulfill MDG commitments within the broader context of the changing world economy (financial crisis, high oil and food prices, adaptation to climate change). It will examine some conceptual issues such as the diversity of the nature of the goals (inputs, outputs, outcomes, process) and the absence of dimensions of equity. The final paper will be issued ahead of the September UN General Assembly, with the analysis intended to contribute to the re-formulation of strategies for the achievement of MDGs by 2015 and beyond. Given the political context mentioned above, this may be a tall order.

Note finally that the MDG Africa Steering Group (that brings together the leaders of multilateral development organizations under the leadership of the UN Secretary-General) has also elaborated an action plan that includes a series of recommendations and was launched at the African Union Summit in Sharm-El-Sheikh (Egypt) on 1st July.
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