European Scrutiny Committee Contents

41 Addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in Sudan



COM(10) 195

Draft Council Decision concerning the allocation of funds de-committed from projects under the 9th and previous European Development Funds (EDF) for the purpose of addressing the needs of the most vulnerable population in Sudan

Legal baseArticles 1(4) and 6 of the Internal Agreement between Member States on the Financing of Community Aid in accordance with the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement; unanimity
Document originated3 May 2010
Deposited in Parliament25 May 2010
DepartmentInternational Development
Basis of considerationEM of 26 May 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone
To be discussed in Council12 July 2010
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


41.1 In 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, over two counts of alleged war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity. In the same year, the Government of Sudan decided not to ratify the first revision of the Cotonou Agreement (the basis for the EDF) because it contains new articles that relate to the ICC. As a consequence, Sudan cannot access €297 million of funds that would otherwise have been made available to it under the 10th EDF.

The Council Decision

41.2 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 26 May 2010, the Secretary of State for International Development (Mr Andrew Mitchell) says that this is a crucial period for Sudan. He notes that: in January 2011, the semi-autonomous South of Sudan will hold a referendum on secession from the rest of Sudan; irrespective of the outcome, they will continue to face huge humanitarian and development challenges requiring strong engagement from donors; and that other marginalised areas in Sudan — principally Darfur, The Three Areas and the East — also continue to face huge humanitarian and development challenges. He then explains that, given the political and humanitarian situation, Member States have encouraged the Commission) to find ways to channel funds to the Sudanese population, and that it has now proposed using €150 million of "de-committed" funds — funds not used as originally intended — from the 9th and previous EDFs; discussions in the Council's Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Working Group suggest that the requisite unanimity among Member States will be forthcoming; once this obtains, the Commission Delegation in Sudan will then consult Member States on how the funds will be utilised. They will, the Secretary of State underlines, not be channelled through the Government of Sudan. The focus is expected to be on rural development and basic services to be used in the marginalised areas of the South, Darfur, the East and the Transitional Areas. EU Member States will subsequently be required to give formal approval to the Commission's spending proposals through the EDF Management Committee.

41.3 In addition, the Secretary of State notes that the Commission:

—  is also currently considering the possibilities of providing additional funding for Sudan through its Instrument for Stability, and plans to bring forward a proposal in May;

—  has indicated that it may, at a later date, bring forward a proposal for using 10th EDF funding, whilst avoiding any benefits going to the Government of Sudan, to address any remaining funding shortfall. But (the Secretary of State says) practical and legal difficulties would first need to be resolved with such a proposal.

The Government's view

41.4 The Secretary of State notes that the UK is strongly engaged in Sudan, both bilaterally (c.£250 million annually, of which £140 million is humanitarian and development funding, with around half spent in the South of the country) and through international organisations such as the EU and UN. He says that the there are no additional financial implications arising from this proposal, the de-committed funds identified from the 9th and prior EDFs having already been made available by Member States to the Commission, who are holding them in a reserve awaiting Member States' consideration of possible re-programming. He describes the UK as having been at the forefront of efforts to get additional Commission funding approved for Sudan despite its non-ratification of the 2005 revision of the Cotonou Agreement, and says that it has taken over a year for the Commission to make this proposal. In order to avoid the risk that the proposal is perceived to undermine the Cotonou agreement, with funds continuing to flow to Sudan despite non-ratification, he says that key conditions for Member States are that "programming will focus on the marginalised and under-developed areas of Sudan, and that no funds will be routed through the Government of Sudan"; that the Commission has indicated that it can find implementing partners in the marginalised areas that avoid routing funds in this way; and that the funds will be managed according to the implementation arrangements for EDF 10.

41.5 Finally, he says that he expects the proposal to be submitted to the Council for decision in May, with the programming proposal to be submitted subsequently for Member States' formal approval in the EDF Committee later in May or in June.

41.6 Subsequently, it became clear that the proposal had been held up because of difficulties in agreeing a joint European Commission-Council statement to accompany the proposal to clarify when funds could be channelled through the Government of Sudan.

The Minister's letter of 5 July 2010

41.7 In his letter of 5 July 2010, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for International Development (Stephen O'Brien) says that although the proposal itself was uncontroversial and accepted by all Member States, agreement on this joint European Commission-Council statement proved more problematic. He continues as follows:

"The original language of the statement read: 'The Council and the Commission agree that, in the implementation of this Decision, no funds shall be channelled through the central Government of Sudan.'

"Subsequently, the Commission broke silence procedure on this proposed language. The Commission argued that, given that the funds might be used over an extended period of time and circumstances might change, the proposed language could undermine the Commission's ability to deliver on the commitment to provide funds to the most vulnerable areas of Sudan.

"The Commission subsequently proposed revised language indicating that it would consider channelling funds through the Government of Sudan in certain circumstances, and that it did not intend to refer back to Member States before doing so. The UK then broke silence on this proposed statement, as we were concerned that it did not offer sufficient safeguards to Member States against these funds going through the Government of Sudan.

"Subsequent negotiations between the UK and the Commission led to the following compromise language:

"The Council and the Commission agree that, in the implementation of this Decision, funds should not be channelled through the central Government of Sudan. In exceptional circumstances, when such channelling is necessary for the EU's support to peace and development in Sudan and/or in order to ensure that the Sudanese population receive the full benefits of these funds, the Commission will, in the context of EU donor coordination in Sudan, consult with Member States in advance to verify the need for such channelling."

41.8 The Minister says that this language represents a good outcome for the UK:

"It provides guarantees that the Commission will consult Member States before putting money through the Government of Sudan channels, but without requiring new bespoke procedures to be established in Brussels (a key Commission concern). The people in the marginalised areas of Sudan are amongst the poorest in the world, and this funding will represent a significant contribution towards improving services for them."

41.9 The Minister concludes by noting that, this having been agreed, the combined proposal and statement was expected to be adopted by the Council on 12 July 2010.


41.10 The proposal would appear to have been well thought through, and appropriate procedures agreed concerning Government of Sudan channels. Although no questions arise, we felt that a short Report would be appropriate because of the strong UK involvement in an area of sustained political interest.

41.11 We now clear the document. In so doing, the Committee recognises that that the Dissolution and delay in establishing the Committee militated against the Minister withholding agreement until this Decision had been scrutinised, and does not object, on this occasion and in these circumstances.

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