Wednesday, May 09, 2007

10th EDF: Democratic scrutiny of ACP Country Strategy Papers

Until very recently, EC development cooperation with Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific States was subject to little democratic scrutiny and left mostly to the discretion of the European Commission and Member States in discussions behind closed doors. Following the European Parliament Development Committee's new right of scrutiny of Country Strategy Papers (CSPs) for Asian and Latin American countries covered by the Development Cooperation Instrument, in April Member States accorded the right to oversee ACP CSPs to the EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), which will receive the draft CSPs at the same time as the Member States' EDF committee. While this will be officially for information only, the Joint Parliamentary Assembly's feedback will have to be taken into account by the European Commission. At the same time, Member States acknowledge the need for greater support for the capacity of the JPA, given significant resources and structures required to effectively scrutinize 78 Country Strategy Papers.

In April, the CONCORD Cotonou group participated in an informal exchange on the EDF with Member States and the Commission. It became clear that there will be no global qualitative review of the 9th EDF and its impact on poverty reduction. Lessons learned are expected to be drawn at country level and taken up in the new Country Strategy Papers (CSP). The reallocation of 9th EDF funds will be agreed by the EU-ACP Council of Ministers meeting on 25 May.

Regarding civil society consultation in the 10th EDF programming, the Commission believes it is responding to concerns expressed by civil society: Louis Michel sent a letter to EC Delegations earlier this year underlining the importance of consulting civil society. The Commission is asking Delegations to fill out a questionnaire on their consultation process, which will lead to a report to inform the mid-term review process. It was noted that existing consultation guidelines should be evaluated and updated if needed.

On the sensitive issue of governance, it was noted that the governance profile is an EU tool, not a shared tool with the partner country government, Parliament, civil society. In reponse to the EC assessment, governments are asked to make commitments on governance reform. The profile and government commitments will be annexed to the CSP (so, made public when the final CSP is). The Commission will in May make a proposal to Member States on the awarding of the governance incentive tranche (0-35% of the national envelope, to be used on focal sectors, not necessarily on governance reform). The methodology for the proposal is not yet finalized, but will be based on the EC's assessment of the ambition, relevance, and credibility of the government's commitments on governance reform, measured against the weaknesses identified in the profile. The proposal will not be made available outside the EC/Member States, as aid allocation is an EU responsibility only.

Source: EU News - Issue 3, May 2007 (APRODEV, CIDSE, Caritas Europa).

See also Euforic dossier on ACP-EU cooperation