European Scrutiny Committee Contents

2 A twelve-point EU action plan in support of the MDGs



+ ADDs 1-5

COM(10) 159

Commission Communication: A twelve-point EU action plan in support of the Millennium Development Goals

Legal base
Document originated24 April 2010
Deposited in Parliament10 May 2010
DepartmentInternational Development
Basis of considerationEM of 7 June 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone
To be discussed in Council14-15 June 2010 "Development" Foreign Affairs Council
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionNot cleared; for debate in European Committee B


2.1 The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight goals to be achieved by 2015 that respond to the world's main development challenges. The MDGs are drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations, and signed by 147 heads of state and governments, during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.[4] The eight MDGs were broken down into 21 quantifiable targets that are measured by 60 indicators.[5]

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

Goal 5: Improve maternal health

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

The Commission Communication

2.2 The Commission describes the MDGs as "the first ever set of shared development goals at international level", and as "having contributed to build an unprecedented level of consensus [which] should continue to guide and mobilise international support [and which] emphasise the importance of a Human Rights based approach to development." They note that:

"with only five years remaining before the agreed 2015 deadline, world leaders will gather in New York on 20-22 September 2010 for the UN MDG Review High Level Plenary Meeting (HLPM). Their aim is to ensure a comprehensive review of successes and gaps, and agree on concrete action to speed up progress."[6]

2.3 The Commission describes the present situation as patchy. Progress has varied greatly both between MDGs and between regions, with economic growth, good governance and quality of domestic policies as key variables for progress. Globally, there has been strong and sustained progress in reducing extreme poverty as well as on other goals such as universal primary education, gender equality in primary education and access to water.

"But, around 1.4 billion people still live in extreme poverty (51% of them in Sub-Saharan Africa) and one sixth of the world's population is undernourished. There has been almost no progress in reducing maternal and child mortality and prospects for access to sanitation are also bleak."

2.4 Against this background, the Commission sets out its Action Plan, with a number of specific medium-term actions in support of the MDGs. The EU action plan is intended to:

—  constitute a unified EU contribution to a UN action oriented outcome on MDGs for 2010-2015;

—  provide a basis for outreach and dialogue, before and beyond the HLPM, with key and strategic partners, whether in the G8/G20 context, or in fora such as the Asia-Europe Development Conference Meeting (26-27 May 2010), the EU — LAC Summit (18 May 2010), and the 3rd Africa-EU Summit (29-30 November 2010); and

—  feed into the Europe 2020 strategy.

2.5 The Commission notes the EU's singular position, as collectively by far the biggest donor — almost 56% of global Official Development Assistance (ODA), almost doubled since the adoption of the MDGs, now amounting to €49 billion. In 2008, it decreased, but was still 0.42% of EU GNI.

"Nevertheless, the EU is behind the schedule to reach the collective EU intermediate target of 0.56% of GNI by 2010, as a step towards devoting by 2015 0.7% of GNI to ODA.

"Back-loading aid increases would mean back-loading progress on the MDGs. In the current financial and economic crisis, it may not be easy to keep our collective promises to devote 0.7% of our GNI to ODA by 2015, and to direct 50% of the ODA increase to Africa, but it is still feasible and necessary. It is a question of foresight and political will. All donors need to contribute to the common goal on the basis of fair global and EU internal burden-sharing. At the UN HLPM, the EU needs to show how it will keep its promises, proving that developing countries can trust us. This includes tackling new global challenges by providing financing from resources additional to ODA."

2.6 As well as honouring EU aid commitments, the Commission proposes 12 actions, the main ones being:


The Commission notes estimated annual efficiency gains of between €3-6 billion if the EU and Member States were to implement better the aid effectiveness principles agreed in the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action. The EU has to step up implementation of these commitments in order to show concrete results ahead of the fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Seoul in 2011. Coordinating European actions upstream has more impact than taking corrective measures downstream. The Commission proposes concrete steps to improve national and EU planning cycles and the EU Division of Labour.


The EU should pay particular attention to the goals furthest from being achieved. Action must be prioritised in countries where most progress is to be made. Targeted interventions should focus on the most vulnerable, including women, children and people with disabilities. Fragile states have made considerably less progress towards the MDGs than other developing countries; donors should do more and in a more coordinated way in fragile states.

The EU and Member States should always use as a first option partner countries' own strategies and systems in order to strengthen country ownership. This should preferably be done through Budget Support and MDG Contract type of programmes. In education and health, concentrate EU and Member States action in those countries where need is greatest and sustainable policies can be supported; the list of priority countries will be prepared ahead of the High Level Plenary Meeting (HLPM) in September; enhance policy coherence and further EU political and financial involvement in the Global Fund to fight Aids Tuberculosis & Malaria and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation; increase support for national education sector plans; and address all aspects of food security.


Continue to encourage and support country-led approaches for deciding priority investments in support of MDGs, and promote the inclusion of MDG targets in developing countries own development strategies. MDG ownership should be seen as part of the wider governance commitments taken by partner countries, and part and parcel of the EU dialogue with them. High quality statistical data is crucial to monitor progress, accountability and rational policies. The lack of reliable, accurate data to track MDG progress is particularly acute in Africa.


The PCD Work Programme (see below) needs to be used proactively and early to guide EU decision making.


EU support for setting up sustainable fiscal and customs systems should be strengthened, building capacity and promoting good governance in tax matters.[7]


The EU should increase support to private sector development via the ACP Investment Facility and the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund; strengthen the capacity of the EIB to support EU development objectives; persist in working for a conclusion of the Doha Round; continue to work on tailored bilateral and regional trade agreements, including Economic Partnership Agreements; and advance further in the delivery of Aid for Trade.

2.7 The five accompanying Commission Staff Working Papers aim to provide the analysis underpinning the actions suggested in the action plan. They cover:

—  Aid for Trade;

—  Financing for Development;

—  Millennium Development Goals (MDGs);

—  Aid Effectiveness; and

—  Policy Coherence for Development.


This is the third progress report against the EU Aid for Trade strategy of 2007. The Commission and EU Member States pledged in 2005 to each increase Aid for Trade commitments to €1 billion (£0.87 billion) a year by 2010. The report shows that Member States and the Commission have hit this target well in advance, reaching €2.15 billion (£1.87 billion) in 2008, consisting of €1.143 billion (£0.995 billion) from Member States and € 1.007 billion (£0.876 billion) from the Commission. Building on this overall success, the Commission calls for continued support for Aid for Trade. Specifically it calls for increased Aid for Trade for the Least Developed Countries, greater needs-based analysis and an expansion in the number of countries in which EU joint Aid for Trade activities take place.


This report monitors the EU's commitments on financing for development, particularly Member State progress against their ODA targets. The report also covers other financing issues such as: improved revenue mobilisation by developing countries through taxation and public financial management; remittances; innovative sources; and strengthening global financial governance.

The Report notes that EU ODA continued to increase as a share of Gross National Income (GNI), reaching 0.42% in 2009 from 0.40% in 2008. Due to economic contraction, however, the total ODA volume decreased to €49 billion (£42 billion) from €50 billion in 2008. The report reveals that the EU will almost certainly miss its collective EU target to reach 0.56% of GNI by 2010. According to the Commission the target of 0.7% of GNI in 2015 is, however, still attainable with a fair internal burden-sharing.

The UK remains on track to reach both the 2010 and 2015 targets. Four Member States are already in excess of 0.7% and a further four are firmly on track to meet the targets. Various other Member States (including Germany and Italy) have significantly decreased their ODA/GNI since 2008 and are seriously off-track. To ensure the 2015 target is met, the Commission proposes the establishment of national annual delivery plans and the creation of an EU internal annual ODA Peer Review.


With five years to go until the MDGs target date, this Staff Working Paper takes stock of what progress has been made and identifies lessons learnt. While progress has been made in some areas (e.g. on worldwide extreme poverty and enrolment in primary education), progress has been highly uneven among regions, countries and population groups. Some MDGs are also still severely off-track at global level, especially maternal and child health, and water and sanitation. The Commission points to economic growth, country leadership, domestic policies, and ODA as crucial to success.

Other key challenges include the continuing effects of the economic and financial crisis, mobilising the private sector, focussing on the most off-track MDGs and countries and addressing fragility and climate change.


This Staff Working Paper covers progress on commitments to improve aid effectiveness established by the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action. It presents a mixed picture of EU progress. While EU working methods and processes could be better coordinated, the Commission acknowledges a genuine willingness to improve the effectiveness of aid and can demonstrate some real progress. It suggests that further progress could be made by joint EU programming and a common European approach on improving the transparency and accountability of aid.


The Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) work programme aims to translate the principle that non-development policies should support, or at least not undermine, development policies and it sets out practical steps to enhance the coherence of EU policies. The work programme concentrates on actions in five areas: Trade and finance; climate change; global food security; migration; and security, in each of which individual targets and indicators are identified.

The Government's view

2.8 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 7 June 2010, the Secretary of State for International Development (Mr Andrew Mitchell) says that this "broad" Communication "supports an action-oriented EU position for the MDG Summit in September". He regards the most important ideas as "the introduction of an internal EU peer review mechanism on ODA delivery, consisting of national annual ODA action plans, regular discussions among Member States in the Council and reports on ODA delivery to the European Council." This, he says, is welcome, "as it aims to secure EU ODA delivery despite the challenging fiscal situation in Europe." Stating that the UK is "on track to meet its 2010 and 2015 ODA targets", the Secretary of State "would like to see other Member States meeting theirs."

2.9 The Secretary of State also notes that the Communication also sets out a number of actions to target countries and MDGs that are most off-track. He highlights the Commission proposal to re-allocate funds from the European Development Fund (EDF) to off-track countries in the framework of the 2010 mid-term review of ACP programmes, and describes the actions proposed in order to support individual off-track MDGs (including child and maternal health, education) as "not very specific at this stage."

2.10 The Secretary of State then comments on the supporting Commission Staff Working Documents as follows:


"The UK welcomes the Commission's support for a stronger focus on Least Developed Countries, regional approaches and improved Aid for Trade (AFT) effectiveness in particular. The report identifies the key AFT challenges over the next few years such as (1) raising further awareness about what the AFT concept means in practice, (2) maintaining support for AFT flows in the absence of any current targets and ensuring that spending results in real change on the ground through, (3) aid effective approaches, (4) poverty and gender targeting, (5) effective monitoring and evaluation. The Commission does not indicate however how it will work with EU partners to develop a leadership role in tackling these challenges.


"This Progress Report gives a clear picture of EU delivery against targets. With only eight Member States (including the UK) already meeting or being on track to meet the EU ODA targets for 2010 and 2015, the Report recognises that the EU is in danger of missing its collective ODA targets. It is welcome that the Report calls on Member States to demonstrate their contribution to the EU ODA targets and the need for a fairer burden sharing internally and internationally.

"The UK remains committed to provide 0.56% of GNI as ODA in 2010, and to reach 0.7% by 2013 and will continue to press other donors to meet their commitments. This will be a key issue at the June European Council, in the G8 and in the preparation for the MDG Summit in New York in September 2010.


"The Staff Working Paper provides a useful assessment of the current status of the MDGs. The Government shares the Commission's analysis in most respects and agrees that economic growth, country leadership, domestic policies, and ODA are crucial elements to attain the MDGs. The UK will work with other Member States to make sure that the EU assumes real leadership for attaining the MDGs. In this regard, the Government will work towards more specific EU commitments for tackling the off-track MDGs (health and education) in particular.


"The UK is convinced that there is a strong need to improve aid effectiveness and to meet the respective Paris and Accra targets. This is particularly true under the current fiscal circumstances in Europe. We therefore welcome the comprehensive aid effectiveness agenda of the EU. We particularly support the Commission's recommendation on developing a Chapter on mutual accountability and transparency for the EU Operational Framework on aid effectiveness. We also welcome the reference to the International Aid transparency Initiative (IATI), which has the aim to make aid more transparent.

"We also support the Commission's initiative on cross-country division of labour. The UK's newly launched Bilateral Aid Review will aim to improve the effectiveness of our aid, taking into account the activities of EU and other donors.


"The EU is in a unique position to be able to strengthen policy coherence for development (PCD), and should showcase that it is possible to the rest of the world. The UK therefore strongly supports the Commission's efforts to strengthen PCD and welcome its ambition to focus on specific areas, trying to identify specific actions. The UK will work with the Commission in making these actions more concrete and ambitious in particular in areas such as the common agricultural and the common fisheries policy."

2.11 The Secretary of State goes on to note that, although there has been no external consultation on these documents, there is regular discussion with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, HM Treasury and Cabinet Office on these issues.

2.12 Finally, the Secretary of State says that these documents will be on the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council on the 14-15 June.

2.13 On 14 June, the Council subsequently endorsed 16 pages of Conclusions, which it says constitute the EU position on the MDGs with a view to the UN General Assembly High-Level Plenary Meeting and in which it says the Commission Communication "has provided essential guidance." The Council says that the EU remains firmly committed to support the achievement of the MDGs globally by 2015, which it says "is still possible, if all partners in the international community demonstrate strong political commitment, implement necessary policy changes and take concrete action." It agrees that progress has been uneven and that "considerable work remains to be done prioritising MDGs most off-track, notably in the regions and countries most lagging behind, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs)". With countries in situations of conflict and fragility needing special attention." It sees progress as depending "to a great extent on the quality and coherence of development partners policies [and] remains convinced that the MDGs are interlinked, mutually dependent and reinforcing and therefore require a holistic, rights-based approach which takes into account local contexts". It underlines "the interdependence of the MDGs with human rights, gender equality, democracy, good governance, development, peace and security, as well as climate and energy [and] also underlines the important role of non-development policies in achieving the MDGs." Overall, the Council "strongly favours a concrete and action-oriented outcome of the HLPM", and to this effect, proposes a number of concrete actions and policies.[8]


2.14 Although we have no concerns over the documents per se, we think that the importance of the issues they cover and of the 20-22 September 2010 UN MDG Review High Level Plenary Meeting (HLPM), for which they are intended to prepare the world's foremost providers of development assistance, warrant their being debated in European Committee B.

2.15 We so recommend. In the meantime, the documents remain under scrutiny.

Annex: The MDG Targets and Indicators
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
Goals and Targets (from the Millennium Declaration) Indicators for monitoring progress
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Target 1: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than less than one dollar a day 1. Proportion of population below $1 (PPP) per day

2. Poverty gap ratio [incidence x depth of poverty]

3. Share of poorest quintile in national consumption

Target 2: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger 4. Prevalence of underweight children under-five years of age

5. Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Target 3: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling 6. Net enrolment ratio in primary education

7. Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach grade 5b

8. Literacy rate of 15-24 year-olds

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Target 4: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015 9. Ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education

10. Ratio of literate women to men, 15-24 years old

11. Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector

12. Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Target 5: Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate 13. Under-five mortality rate

14. Infant mortality rate

15. Proportion of 1 year-old children immunised against measles

Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Target 6: Reduce by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio 16. Maternal mortality ratio

17. Proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Target 7: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS 18. HIV prevalence among pregnant women aged 15-24 years

19. Condom use rate of the contraceptive prevalence rate

19a. Condom use at last high-risk sex

19b. Percentage of population aged 15-24 years with comprehensive correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS

19c. Contraceptive prevalence rate

20. Ratio of school attendance of orphans to school attendance of non-orphans aged 10-14 years

Target 8: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases 21. Prevalence and death rates associated with malaria

22. Proportion of population in malaria-risk areas using effective malaria prevention and treatment measures

23. Prevalence and death rates associated with tuberculosis

24. Proportion of tuberculosis cases detected and cured under directly observed treatment short course DOTS (Internationally recommended TB control strategy)

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Target 9: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources 25. Proportion of land area covered by forest

26. Ratio of area protected to maintain biological diversity to surface area

27. Energy use (kg oil equivalent) per $1 GDP (PPP)

28. Carbon dioxide emissions per capita and consumption of ozone­depleting CFCs (ODP tons)

29. Proportion of population using solid fuels

Target 10: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation 30. Proportion of population with sustainable access to an improved water source, urban and rural

31. Proportion of population with access to improved sanitation, urban and rural

Target 11: By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers 32. Proportion of households with access to secure tenure

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
Target 12: Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system

Includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction — both nationally and internationally

Target 13: Address the special needs of the least developed countries

Includes: tariff and quota free access for the least developed countries' exports; enhanced programme of debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) and cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous ODA for countries committed to poverty reduction

Target 14: Address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing States (through the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the outcome of the twenty-second special session of the General Assembly)

Target 15: Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term

Some of the indicators listed below are monitored separately for the least developed countries (LDCs), Africa, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.

Official development assistance (ODA)

33. Net ODA, total and to the least developed countries, as percentage of OECD/DAC donors' gross national income

34. Proportion of total bilateral, sector-allocable ODA of OECD/DAC donors to basic social services (basic education, primary health care, nutrition, safe water and sanitation)

35. Proportion of bilateral official development assistance of OECD/DAC donors that is untied

36. ODA received in landlocked developing countries as a proportion of their gross national incomes

37. ODA received in small island developing States as a proportion of their gross national incomes

Market access

38. Proportion of total developed country imports (by value and excluding arms) from developing countries and least developed countries, admitted free of duty

39. Average tariffs imposed by developed countries on agricultural products and textiles and clothing from developing countries

40. Agricultural support estimate for OECD countries as a percentage of their gross domestic product

41. Proportion of ODA provided to help build trade capacity

Debt sustainability

42. Total number of countries that have reached their HIPC decision points and number that have reached their HIPC completion points (cumulative)

43. Debt relief committed under HIPC Initiative

44. Debt service as a percentage of exports of goods and services

Target 16: In cooperation with developing countries, develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth 45. Unemployment rate of young people aged 15-24 years, each sex and total
Target 17: In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries 46. Proportion of population with access to affordable essential drugs on a sustainable basis
Target 18: In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications 47. Telephone lines and cellular subscribers per 100 population

48. Personal computers in use per 100 population Internet users per 100 population

4   See for full information on the Summit. Back

5   Set out at the annex to this chapter of our Report. Back

6   UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on world leaders to attend a summit in New York on 20-22 September 2010 to boost progress towards the MDGs. His report, "Keeping the Promise", will serve as the basis for Member States' deliberations on "an action-oriented outcome document for the Summit …. identifies successes and gaps, and lays out an agenda for 2010-2015" . See for full background to the HLPM. Back

7   The Commission has produced a separate Commission Communication on this subject: see (31516) 8891/10 listed in chapter 81 of this Report. Back

8   Available at  Back

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