Documents considered by the Committee on 15 September 2010 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

18   EU development assistance in 2009



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COM(10) 335

Commission Report: Annual Report 2010 on the European Union's Development and External Assistance Policies and their Implementation in 2009

Legal base
Document originated28 June 2010
Deposited in Parliament2 July 2010
DepartmentInternational Development
Basis of considerationEM of 20 July 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone
To be discussed in CouncilTo be determined
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared; relevant to the proposed debate in European Committee B on the UN Millennium Development Goals


18.1  Each year the Commission produces a report to the Council and the European Parliament on the EU's development and external assistance policies and their implementation.

The Commission Report

18.2  The Report covers the Union's external assistance policies and programmes in 2009. The focus this year is on the global financial crisis and its impact on the world's poorest countries.

18.3  The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) continue to feature as a priority of EU policies and programmes, with details of activities outlined by EU instruments and regions. The Report also highlights preparatory work in 2009 to ensure a strong EU leadership position for the UN High Level Plenary Meeting (HLPM) on the MDGs in September 2010.

18.4  A number of important EU initiatives in response to the financial crisis are highlighted. In April 2009, a new instrument — the ad hoc Vulnerability FLEX (V-FLEX) mechanism — was introduced; it mobilises up to €500 million (£409 million) to Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, of which €161 million (£132 million) has been paid out to date. Stringent eligibility criteria are applied for access to this support.[77] In addition, the €1 billion (£818 million) EU Food Facility (agreed in December 2008; expiring in 2010) had allocated over €837 million (£684 million) by the end of 2009, with a range of providers able to deliver food aid under the Facility.[78]

18.5  In 2009, the Commission notes that it prepared Communications linked to the MDGs covering the areas of health, education and gender equality, which shaped the Twelve Point MDG Plan of Action approved by the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 14 June 2010. Other policy work included:

—  a first assessment of the European Consensus on Development; [79]

—  a plan of action for incorporating the Accra aid effectiveness outcomes[80] into EU programming;

—  the biennial report on EU Policy Coherence for Development; [81]

—  a mid-term review of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy; and

—  publication of the first European Report on Development themed on Overcoming Fragility in Africa.

18.6  The Commission notes that it has also taken steps to simplify and streamline implementation, including new guidance for decentralised management for EU delegations, and focused more on communicating results and impact.

18.7  The EU continues to consolidate its position as the world's foremost provider of aid: in 2009, accounting for more than half of global Official Development Assistance (ODA) of €48.2 billion (£39.4 billion), of which the Commission alone committed €12 billion (£9.8 billion) and disbursed €10 billion (£8.2 billion). Africa continues to be the largest regional recipient of ODA (38% of total EU ODA, with 33% for sub Saharan Africa). However the Report also indicates that the total share of European Commission-managed ODA going to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) fell from 41% in 2008 to 35.4% in 2009.

18.8  In summary, the Commission says that:

—   it has acted rapidly to address the problems caused by the crises of 2008-09 and to ensure that the impact of its resources is maximised;

—  the EU has shown the capacity to innovate and to adapt its aid instruments to meet new challenges;

—  the dynamics of this process have created new synergies and more effective results;

—   it will continue to work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which are to be the subject of a major international review in 2010.

The Government's view

18.9   In his Explanatory Memorandum of 20 July 2010, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Stephen O'Brien) describes the Report as "a step in the right direction compared to earlier years, although its length and layout make it a somewhat wearisome document to navigate". He professes himself "pleased to see a stronger overall focus on results, in response to demand from us and other Member States. Through some 43 case studies, the Report seeks to highlight concrete outcomes with estimates of numbers of beneficiaries in countries", and notes that monitoring processes also indicate an overall improvement in project performance compared to earlier years. He continues as follows:

"However, further efforts are called for to make this a more reader-friendly Report with clear assessments about the progress and results of EU aid. Importantly, we want to see an expansion of quantitative outcomes at field level, and more and stronger links between objectives and results achieved across instruments and regions. In line with my Department's focus on securing value for money, we will also press for future Reports to better link results and related costs, and include more information on underlying administration costs.   

"The Report is candid in its finding that the sustainability of Commission interventions is at risk because of poor partner ownership and lack of exit strategies. We will look for evidence of increased partner ownership in the next Annual Report.

"Despite us and others pressing for this in previous years, we keep noting continued shortcomings in data quality on gender dis-aggregation and on reporting against Paris indicators. The EU Gender Equality Action Plan (adopted at the June 2010 Foreign Affairs Council) does commit the Commission to detail gender equality expenditure in Annual Reports by 2013. We will monitor this closely. Also, with the DAC/OECD reporting on donor performance (including for the EU) against Paris aid effectiveness indicators as of next year, this information will be publicly available."   

18.10  The Minister describes preparatory work in 2009 towards the EU position for the MDG Summit as useful, noting that the June 2010 European Council reconfirmed the collective EU ODA target of 0.7% of GNI by 2015 and agreed to discuss this annually. Looking ahead, he expects the 2011 Annual Report to reflect further details on this achievement as well as the actual Summit meeting.


18.11  As the Minister commendably notes, it is not simply a question of Member States delivering on ODA commitments and the Commission committing and disbursing the funds but also, and more importantly, outcomes and value for money. We endorse the priorities that he has set himself for this year, and look forward to hearing how successful he has been in a year's time.

18.12  More immediately, there is the question of the UN High Level Plenary Meeting on the MDGs later this month. We considered the Commission Communication on the 12 Point Action Plan to which the Minister refers in our First Report of Session 2010-11, (HC 428-i) and recommended that it be debated in European Committee B.[82] This will enable the Government to give an account of the HLPM and the House to give its views. We consider this Commission Report relevant to that debate.

18.13  We now clear the document.

77   For the Committee's consideration of the Commission Communications on "An EU policy framework to assist developing countries in addressing food security challenges" and on "Humanitarian Food Assistance", see (31470) 8246/10 and (31471) 8250/10: HC 428-i (2010-11), chapter 45 (8 September 2010). Back

78   For the Committee's consideration of the Commission's interim evaluation of the Food Facility , see (31420) 7571/10: HC 428-i (2010-11), chapter 39 (8 September 2010). Back

79   The Consensus, agreed in 2005, identifies shared values, goals, principles and commitments which the European Commission and EU Member States will implement in their development policies, in particular: reducing poverty, particularly focussing on the Millennium Development Goals; development based on Europe's democratic values (respect for human rights, democracy, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, good governance, gender equality, solidarity, social justice and effective multilateral action, particularly through the UN) and developing countries to be mainly responsible for their own development (national strategies developed in collaboration with non-government bodies, and mobilising domestic resources; EU aid aligned with these national strategies and procedures). See for further information. Back

80   The Paris Declaration, endorsed on 2 March 2005, is an international agreement to which over one hundred Ministers, Heads of Agencies and other Senior Officials adhered and committed their countries and organisations to continue to increase efforts in harmonisation, alignment and managing aid for results with a set of monitorable actions and indicators. The Accra Agenda for Action was drawn up in 2008 and builds on the commitments agreed in the Paris Declaration. See,3343,en_2649_3236398_35401554_1_1_1_1,00.html for further information. Back

81   The EU seeks to build synergies between policies other than development cooperation that have a strong impact on developing countries. This approach is being taken by both the European Commission and EU national governments. In 2005, the EU agreed to apply the Policy Coherence for Development approach in 12 policy areas that could accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals: trade; environment and climate change; security; agriculture; bilateral fisheries agreements; social policies (employment); migration; research/innovation; information technologies; transport and energy. See for further information.


82   See (31519) 8910/10: HC 428-i (2010-11), chapter 2 (8 September 2010).


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