Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Proposals imminent on EU donor "division of labour"

From: EU NEWS - Issue 1, February 2007 (APRODEV, CIDSE, Caritas Europa).

In February, the European Commission will publish a communication on the so-called "division of labour" and "complementarity" between EU donors, namely a more rationalized presence of EU donors across countries and sectors based on the "added value" of each donor. This follows on from the debates in 2006 on the various means to increase the effectiveness of EU aid, in line with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness of 2005. In October, the Council laid out a number of principles in relation to the division of labor and mandated the Commission to develop a further proposal together with Member States.

To minimize the "transaction costs" to developing countries of having to deal with a multiplicity of donors, the division of labor debate aims at a reduction in the number of EU donors present in a country and/or across sectors, while maintaining a comprehensive European presence. Each EU donor should develop a vision of their "comparative advantage" and a more limited focus.

The German presidency commissioned a study on operation options for a division of labour, carried out by research institutions in Germany, Portugal, and Slovenia (the three EU Presidencies for the next 18 months). The study was presented in Brussels on 29 January at an event hosted by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung with a panel including representatives from the three Presidencies, the European Commission, the European Parliament, and CONCORD. Discussion focused on the political will needed to move beyond Member States' national interests underlying their presence in a given country or sector. It was also noted that a much stronger collective vision of European aid
would be needed, with Member States relying on other EU donors to cover certain countries or sectors, rather than being present themselves.

Concerns were raised that discussions on division of labor risk being entirely donor-driven, with developing countries having little say in the assessment of individual donor's strengths particularly in relation to impact on poverty reduction, and in the choice of who should be present where. The Director General of Germany's Ministry for Development Dr. Michael Hofmann argued for a process transparent for all stakeholders, with information being made available e.g. through a website. Strong
monitoring of progress is also needed to ensure both that Member States are playing the game, and that changes bring positive results for development, and do not undermine the quality of donor support in a given country.

The Commission and Member States held an internal workshop on the division of labour on 30-31 January. The February communication will be discussed at the Council meeting of Development Ministers in May.

Source: EU NEWS - Issue 1, February 2007 (APRODEV, CIDSE, Caritas Europa).

See also Euforic dossiers on Europe's cooperation and coherence.