Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Incoherence exposed

Brussels, 3 October. Three case studies highlighting incoherence between the development policies of the EU and its member states were presented yesterday by the EU Coherence Project of the Evert Vermeer Foundation together with Concord, the European NGO Confederation for Relief and Development.

The three areas were illegal logging, biofuels and EPAs. The case studies can be found in full at

According to the report on logging, the lack of action in restricting indirect illegal imports (particularly through China and Russia) causes deforestation and works against EU supported sustainable development in the producing countries. Besides, less than 15 EU member states have adopted legislation ensuring that only sustainable forest products are imported.

Alternative energy
While introducing measures to reduce CO2 emissions by expanding the use of so called biofuels, the EU needs to ensure that the demand for biofuels from its energy policy does not lead to deforestation, degrade food security or raise prices for food commodities. In the case study, five recommendations suggest how the EU can address these problems.

Economic Partnership Agreements
While the EPAs between the EU and the African, Carribean and Pacific countries are planned as an instrument of development, the group was alerted by African partners that EPA negotiations only involve ministries of commerce on the ACP side. It can be questioned therefore if the EPAs will be compliant with the agreement on Policy Coherence for Development, the legal instrument intended to ensure coherence in all areas of EU policy. The case study suggests that the focus for EPAs should remain on the development dimension, it should be possible to omit certain sectors from the agreement, timescales should be flexible and EDF funding should not be used for the implementation of EPAs.

The question remains how to put these cases into practice: how do we anticipate discussions and inform policy makers with the key information for decision making?

Coherence is not so much a technical process but a series of political processes in which one of the challenges is to marshal the 'on the ground' evidence; but in situations where mechanisms to measure the impact of EU countries' policies on developing countries are largely absent.

by Chris Addison

See also Euforic dossier on coherence