EU Development Assistance - International Development Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Relations between the EU organisations with responsibility for development

1.  We are concerned that two separate European Commission departments dealing with development aid and humanitarian aid pose problems for linking relief, rehabilitation and development. Furthermore, clarity is needed on roles and responsibilities between the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Directorate-General of EuropeAid, Development and Co-operation (DG DEVCO)in the programming process. The UK Government should seek reassurances that DG DEVCO, the Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO)and the EEAS are working together in a coherent and coordinated manner and that anti-poverty objectives are not being marginalised within the EEAS. (Paragraph 20)


2.  Although the European Commission has higher administration costs for development than DFID it is difficult to compare like for like. The Commission does far more direct work which requires a greater level of administration. We urge however, the Government to continue to stress the need for value for money. (Paragraph 31)

3.  The UK Government should push the European Commission to improve its policy capacity, given its status as the largest supplier of development aid in the world. (Paragraph 34)

4.  We welcome the Government's commitment to improve the bureaucracy of procurement at the European Commission but there still seems to be a long way to go. The Government must put more pressure on the Commission to make further improvements. (Paragraph 40)

5.  It is unacceptable that only 46% of aid disbursed through European institutions goes to low income countries. It devalues the concept of aid when so much of what is defined as Official Development Assistance (ODA) goes to relatively rich countries such as Turkey. We do not agree with the Government that it should not seek to change the definition of what qualifies as ODA—money given to higher middle income countries should not be classified as ODA, nor do we believe it is right to keep the present definition as a way of fudging the figures to meet the 0.7% target. The UK must continue to press for funding to be diverted from those higher middle income countries, who have their own resources to provide for their people, to give greater help to the poorest people in the world, including in lower income countries. (Paragraph 45)


6.  The UK has a certain amount of choice whether it spends its aid bilaterally or through multilaterals. Although we have acknowledged that there are some problems with channelling aid through the European Commission for example the large amount of aid going to middle income countries and its slow bureaucracy, on balance we are not convinced it is any worse than the other multilaterals DFID funds, for example the World Bank which we have previously reported our concerns on. However DFID should continue to press the Commission to improve its aid effectiveness and value for money. (Paragraph 46)

Human rights, good governance and greater democracy - conditionality

7.  We need to be careful that money spent is not directly or indirectly used for the wrong purposes by the heads of corrupt regimes. However we also agree with the UK Government that conditionality should not punish the poorest people for the sins of their governments. (Paragraph 53)

Economic growth and the private sector

8.  We support both the UK Government and the European Commission's focus on wealth creation through the private sector. DFID needs to get clarification from the European Commission on what this means in practice, how it is to be achieved, and in particular, how the Commission intends to support local business and ensure access to finance for small to medium-sized businesses or entrepreneurs in developing countries. (Paragraph 58)

Policy coherence

9.  Greater policy coherence in Europe on development is a worthy aim. There has been a slight improvement in the trade agenda and the Minister is optimistic on the potential for coherence between Climate Change and Development policies. However, as African academics have highlighted, the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) could do more good than anything else. DFID needs to take a greater role in UK Government discussions highlighting the damage done by both tariff and non-tariff barriers to the developing world. In particular DFID should press Commissioner Piebalgs to engage widely in Europe on development, challenging those with vested interests in the CAP and who oppose its reform. There needs to be a much tougher approach to joined up government on development. (Paragraph 62)

Joint programming

10.  We have concerns that, although joint programming has the potential to prevent the overlap of Member State bilateral programmes and reduce transaction cost for recipient countries, the European Commission does not necessarily have the capacity or the expertise to lead the coordination. The lead donor who coordinates policy for bilateral donors should be the one with the most experience in the area and a proven track record. (Paragraph 68)

Differentiated development partnerships

11.  We support the European Commission's proposals for differentiated partnerships, and in particular, that there should be a reduction in the number of countries in which the Commission has a programme. However, the Commission should go further. So far the proposals have been focused on the Development Co-operation Instrument. We believe that this should also cover countries who receive funding under the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument and those who are members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group covered by the European Development Fund. (Paragraph 75)

Budget support

12.  Whilst we approve of the concept of budget support we also recognise that it has its limitations when countries are emerging from conflict and are fragile. It is only suitable in countries with sound administrative capacity and a reasonable record of pluralism and human rights. (Paragraph 79)

European Development Fund budgetisation

13.  We do not support the European Development Fund (EDF) becoming part of the main European Commission budget in 2014, six years before the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement. EDF budgetisation should only be considered if: there is a shift in European Commission budget funding away from middle income countries to the poorest people and the poorest countries; it can be used as a way to get other Member States to contribute more; and there is thorough consultation with the ACP. The future of the EDF should be discussed in parallel to the future of EU-ACP relations. (Paragraph 84)

Development Cooperation Instrument

14.  In light of the results of DFID's Multilateral Aid Review we are not convinced that the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) should get a larger percentage increase in its funding than the European Development Fund. We recommend the UK Government negotiates for a smaller increase to the DCI unless efficiency and effectiveness is significantly improved. (Paragraph 88)

The 0.7% target

15.  We agree with the Minister that the UK should continue to lead by example in making progress towards the 0.7% target. It is only by meeting the target ourselves can we continue to put pressure on other EU Member States to do the same, particularly Germany, France and Italy. (Paragraph 93)

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Prepared 27 April 2012