Documents considered by the Committee on 21 July 2015 - European Scrutiny Contents


16 The EU's International Cooperation and Development Results Framework

Committee's assessment Politically important
Committee's decisionNot cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the International Development Committee
Document detailsCommission Staff Working Document on launching the EU's international cooperation and development results framework
Legal base
DepartmentInternational Development
Document numbers(36775), 7604/15, SWD(15) 80

Summary and Committee's conclusions

16.1 As the "Background" section below indicates (see paragraphs 0.09-0.16 for details), the previous Committee has taken a sustained interest over the years in the effectiveness with which the EU — the Commission and the European External Action Service — had spent EU taxpayers' money in development and cooperation work.

16.2 The predecessor Commission Staff Working Document — "Paving the way for an EU Development and Cooperation Results Framework" — was accordingly debated in European Committee last November, when it was welcomed as:

"an important step towards putting in place a results framework which will help drive improvements in the impact of the European Commission's development programmes by reporting results achieved and providing performance information for the Commission and others to act on."

16.3 This further Commission Staff Working Document, "Launching the EU International Cooperation and Development Results Framework", following on from the approach taken by other international development donors, lays out a standardised set of indicators against which EU development cooperation programmes will report results. This will allow the results from different programmes to be aggregated to give a set of development results for the EU as a whole. Reporting development results will thus increase the transparency and accountability of the money the EU spends on development. Properly used, the Results Framework should also identify at a strategic level which programmes are most effective at generating development results. The EU will publish results every year — the first such publication being in the second half of 2015.

16.4 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development (Baroness Verma) strongly welcomes publication of the EU Results Framework. However, she says, while publishing the details of the Results Framework is an important first step, the Commission's full attention must now turn to implementation in a full and comprehensive manner and to start reporting on results: "This must be more than a box-ticking exercise: it needs to increase accountability and transparency of EU investments and drive change on the ground". She and her officials will accordingly be active in pressing for this.

16.5 As the EU continues to publish the results of its projects, she and they will "engage significantly" to ensure that this leads to ongoing improvements in the delivery and effectiveness of EU aid and enhances the ability of the public to scrutinise EU spending on development, as well as increasing public engagement. She also expects the Commission to look to explore how the Results Framework could extend beyond aid into the wider field of development policy. At the start, the Results Framework will report only the results from projects that have completed. It would, the Minister says, clearly be preferable to report ongoing projects as well, in order to provide a full picture of what has been achieved in each year. A proportional system for reporting — scaling results by the proportion of EU funding involved in each project — would provide results that were more useful and much easier to interpret. Over time, the UK would also want to see the EU setting high-level targets for results achieved to provide further accountability and help the public interpret what results mean for the level of performance.

16.6 We endorse all that our predecessors have said about the importance of this process. As a major international actor in development cooperation, the EU has in the European Development Fund (EDF) its largest geographic instrument in this policy area, with €30.5 billion allocated to the 11th EDF for 2014-20. But this is only around 30% of total EU spending on external assistance, including spending on both development and other categories. The implications of this long-overdue work are thus enormous.

16.7 In the first instance, we would like the Minister to write to us after the first set of results have been published, with her views on the outcome and on the lessons they hold for future work in this area. We would also like to know at that time what progress has been made in the other areas in which the Minister would like to see further improvement, as outlined above.

16.8 In the meantime, we shall retain the Commission Staff Working Document under scrutiny, and draw these latest developments to the attention of the International Development Committee.

Full details of the documents: Commission Staff Working Document Launching the EU International Cooperation and Development Results Framework: (36775), 7604/15, SWD(15) 80.

Background

16.9 The Commission began its 2013 predecessor Commission Staff Working Document, "Paving the way for an EU Development and Cooperation Results Framework", thus:

"In an increasingly performance-oriented society, metrics matter. What we measure affects what we do. If we have the wrong metrics, we will strive for the wrong things." - J.E. Stiglitz, A. Sen, J.P. Fitoussi, "Mis-Measuring our Lives".

16.10 With this central thought in mind, the Commission sets out what was currently doing to deliver against the commitment in the 2011 Communication "Agenda for Change",[ 157] and the related Council Conclusions,[ 158] by the EU and its Member States to promote common results-based approaches and strengthen their capacity for monitoring, evaluating, and reporting operational results achieved by EU funded development and cooperation projects and programmes. The Commission described the paper as presenting a preliminary approach to the process of drafting an overall EU development and cooperation results framework, and as describing how, once finalized and implemented, this framework would bring together information on results achieved by the EU's development and cooperation assistance. The Commission says that its results framework would track results aggregated from EU funded development and cooperation projects and programmes, and have two main purposes: i) as an accountability tool to communicate results to stakeholders; and ii) as a management tool to provide performance data to inform management decisions, ensuring resources are allocated efficiently.

16.11 In her 3 February 2014 Explanatory Memorandum, the then Minister (Lynne Featherstone) said that better, timelier, results data was vital "if we are to secure good value for money in our development programmes and demonstrate this to UK taxpayers", and was "something the UK has been consistently calling for" since DFID's 2011 Multilateral Aid Review (MAR) was first published. By tracking results aggregated from EU funded development and cooperation projects and programmes, the results framework would bring the EU in line with other multilateral (e.g. the World Bank, the IADB, the Asian Development Bank) and bilateral (e.g. DFID) development actors The Commission approach drew on donor best practice, and would both enhance the quality and scope of the information available to demonstrate EU development results and provide relevant information for internal management decisions. Some technical issues needed to be sorted out. But the cost of implementing a results framework would be more than offset in the long run by increased value for money from Commission aid programmes.

16.12 Two days later, she led a European Committee debate concerning a European Court of Auditors' report, which had examined €1.3 billion of EU support for governance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[ 159] Our predecessors had recommended this debate because the common denominator between this report and many other documents that the Committee had considered over the years was the effectiveness with which the EU — the Commission and the European External Action Service — had spent EU taxpayers' money in this and other development and cooperation work. During that debate the then Minister said that, as the result of close working with the Commission by herself, the Secretary of State and her department over the previous couple of years to improve management by results, the Commission was in the process of adopting a strong, new central results framework, which would have a clear effect on monitoring, evaluation and reporting.[ 160]

16.13 However, in her EM on the Commission Staff Working Document, beyond saying that she and her officials would "continue to look for opportunities to influence the design of the framework, including the periodic reviews which may take place in the future ... [and] ... to press that the Commission delivers against its proposed timetable for finalising the framework and rolling it out", and referring to prospective Council Conclusions at the 14 May "development" Foreign Affairs Council, she was less than clear as to how, and over what timescale, the aspects of the Commission proposal that she believed would undermine its effectiveness were to be definitively addressed.

16.14 The previous Committee recognised that her endeavours were perhaps made more difficult by those Member States who seemed to be grateful for small mercies. However, it also noted that the UK was in a different position, contributing nearly 15% of some €31 billion projected EU development assistance expenditure in this financial perspective. The Committee saw no real sign of (as the then Minister put it) "the Commission's drive to implement a results framework". On the contrary: the Commission appeared to be set out working at its own pace, arguing that having "over 100 delegations" made devising and running a system that would demonstrate whether or not EU taxpayers' money was being spent effectively all too difficult, rather the key priority it should be. The then Minister appeared to regard commitments to "look again" at annual reporting and "further examine the option of setting targets for indicators" as significant achievements in and of themselves. Systems for data collection and measurement at both Delegation and Headquarters would no doubt need to be improved: but, the Committee noted, other development actors, including DFID, had already achieved this. Without a real drive by both Delegations in the field and Headquarters in Brussels — of which it could see no evidence — the Committee queried whether the Commission's proposed results framework would amount to more than window-dressing, and whether UK taxpayers would be any the wiser as to whether or not EU development programmes were indeed good value for money. It therefore recommended that these issues be further examined and debated, after the 19 May "Development" Foreign Affairs Council, and thus with the benefit of the Council Conclusions.[ 161]

16.15 Fast forward to October 2014, and the then Minister, commenting on one of the documents tagged to the debate — the annual report on EU development and external assistance policies and their implementation in 2013 — said of what was the customary wide-ranging narrative:

"Until a fully functioning results monitoring and reporting system is set up, the Commission will not be able to measure the impact of the aid programme. Work is well underway to design a results system and it will be piloted during 2015. It will be important that future annual reports capture results to give a much clearer sense of impact achieved."

16.16 The debate was finally held seven months after the Committee's recommendation, on 6 November 2014, notwithstanding its clear intention that these matters should be debated soon after the May 2014 "Development" Foreign Affairs Council. At the end of the debate, the European Committee resolved thus:

"That the Committee takes note of European Union Document No. 17709/13, a Commission Staff Working Document: Paving the way for an EU Development and Cooperation Results Framework; and welcomes the document as an important step towards putting in place a results framework which will help drive improvements in the impact of the European Commission's development programmes by reporting results achieved and providing performance information for the Commission and others to act on."[ 162]

The further Commission Staff Working Document

16.17 "Launching the EU International Cooperation and Development Results Framework" (EU RF ) accordingly develops the key issues set out in the December 2013 Staff Working Document and translates the approaches set out therein into operational terms; it includes mechanisms in support of the reporting process and details the indicators against which DG International Cooperation and Development will report annually as of 2015 to demonstrate how funds spent contribute to the achievement of the policy objectives.

16.18 The EU RF will also report on results of actions initiated in the past, i.e. for the first years of reporting, initiated under the programming 2007-2013.

16.19 The EU RF is also to be seen as part of a wider set of measures that the Commission says it is putting into place to strengthen monitoring and reporting on results of EU international cooperation and development assistance at the various levels, at the project and programme level, at country level and at the corporate level of the EU as a donor — measures described as:

"key for strengthening the EU capacity to provide support to the development of appropriate monitoring and accountability mechanisms at country level, in line with the aid effectiveness commitments taken in 2011 by the international community in Busan."[ 163]

16.20 The Commission defines its results framework as "a tool that is used to measure results achieved against strategic development objectives" that "should be understood as an articulation of the different levels of results expected from the implementation of a strategy".[ 164] With this in mind, the list of development sectors covered by the EU RF has been defined to reflect EU international cooperation and development assistance priorities, as set out in the Agenda for Change and the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets (which will replace the Millennium Development Goals in particular). The EU RF will thus be reporting on results aggregated from projects and programmes financed under the external assistance instruments managed by DG International Cooperation and Development.[ 165] Publication of this information:

"[will increase] accountability and transparency and demonstrate to external stakeholders how the EU contributes to development progress in the countries and regions to which it provides development assistance, on the one hand, and it provides relevant information to inform internal management decisions, on the other hand, thus strengthening the framework for ensuring effectiveness of EU financed development aid."[ 166]

16.21 In her Explanatory Memorandum of 27 May 2015, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development (Baroness Verma) outlines the EU RF as follows:

"The EU's Results Framework has a similar design to that of other international donors (including DFID) — it has three levels of indicators against which it will report results:

·  "Level 1 - these are the desired high-level outcomes of the EU's development work: development progress in the EU partner countries. An example for this might be the number of countries where the rule of law has i) improved, ii) deteriorated; iii) stayed the same over the last 10 years. Indicators at level 1 are agreed internationally, for example the Millennium Development Goals. To present a full picture of development progress, level 1 indicators will be presented in full for all EU partner countries, rather than just the areas which receive EU funding.

·  "Level 2 - these indicators are the output of development programmes: specific EU contributions to development progress in partner countries. An example might be the number of children enrolled in primary education with EU support. Results at level 2 should be associated with those at level 1 with a credibl

·  e narrative.

·  "Level 3 - these indicators show organisational efficiency and effectiveness in delivering programmes. Some other donors have split this into two separate levels, one for efficiency and one for effectiveness. An example indicator would be disbursement rates and compliance with EU regulatory and political commitments.

"THE INDICATORS

"Level 1 and 2 of the EU Results Framework consist of 32 indicators each, covering twelve areas and sectors. Where possible, results data for both levels will be sex disaggregated. Level 1 and 2 indicators have been chosen using a number of criteria i) to be in line with the EU development priorities from 2014-20, ii) to be aligned with partner governments, iii) to ensure data is possible to collect and aggregate iv) where possible to be aligned with the indicators used by other donors.

"Level 1 and 2 indicators have been designed to have a strong link with what are expected to become Standardised Development Goals (SDGs) under the post-2015 framework. A review of the EU Results Framework is scheduled to take place in 2016 once the SDGs and the related indicators are defined.

"The Annex of the Staff Working Document gives full details on the specific indicators that have been chosen. For each of these, there is a detailed methodology note which can be found online.

"REPORTING AND COLLECTING METHODOLOGY

"The specific design of the results framework, and the methodology behind reporting and collecting results, has not changed significantly since the previous Staff Working Document:

"Baseline - The Results Framework does not set targets for results achieved, but it sets a baseline of zero from when the results framework is implemented. Cumulative results will them be reported, presenting the numbers for the first year of reporting as well as those for the second year and so on. Reported results will therefore show total progress since the introduction of the Framework.

"Contribution approach - Results at level 2 will be reported as country results supported by EU development, rather than attempting to attribute results directly to the EU's work. In addition, the total results of each project will be reported as supported by the EU, rather than attempting to report results scaled proportionally to the EU's level of funding in a programme.

"Reporting cycle - The EU results framework will only be based on results linked to projects and programmes that have come to an end in each reporting period (one year), rather than attempting to provide results for ongoing projects. However, in the medium-term, the EU is upgrading operational information management systems, and will look to consider and test reporting of annual results from ongoing projects and programmes, providing a more accurate picture of results achieved in a given year.

"PUBLICATION OF RESULTS

"The first reporting under the new results framework is scheduled for 2015. In future years, reporting is envisaged to be part of the 'Annual Report on the European Union's development and external assistance policies and their implementation'. However, reporting of the first year is planned as a separate publication scheduled for the second half of 2015."

The Government's view

16.22 The Minister describes an EU Results Framework as essential to demonstrating value for money spent on development, and continues thus:

"It has the potential to be transformational for the delivery of EU aid. The Results Framework provides a detailed set of indicators against which all EU development programmes will report. The publication is a critical step in the process, but the challenge will be to implement and report on the Results Framework in an effective way.

"The EU Results Framework should be used both as an accountability and transparency tool to better demonstrate and communicate what is being achieved through EU development cooperation, but also as a management tool to identify on a strategic level which programmes are most effective at generating development results.

"The EU will publish results every year and it is welcome that the first publication of results is happening soon — in the second half of 2015. The UK will be active in pressing for a full implementation of the Results Framework in the lead up to this.

"As the EU continues to publish the results of its projects, the UK expects this to lead to ongoing improvements in the delivery and effectiveness of EU aid and to enhance the ability of the public to scrutinise EU spending on development, as well as increasing public engagement. The UK will continue to engage significantly to ensure this is the case. The Commission should also look to explore how the Results Framework could extend beyond aid into the wider field of development policy.

"The UK strongly welcomes the publication of the EU Results Framework. This will provide much needed accountability and transparency for EU taxpayers and has the potential to transform EU development spending — allowing programmes to deliver much better value for money and development results. Publishing the details of the Results Framework is an important first step but the Commission's full attention must now turn to implementation. This must be more than a box-ticking exercise: it needs to increase accountability and transparency of EU investments and drive change on the ground.

"The UK considers that the priority for the EU should be to implement the published Results Framework in a full and comprehensive manner and to start reporting on results. Over time, the UK will also work with the EU to ensure that the Results Framework continues to evolve and improve. At the start, the Results Framework will report only the results from projects that have completed. It would clearly be preferable to report ongoing projects as well, in order to provide a full picture of what has been achieved in each year. The UK also considers that a proportional system for reporting — scaling results by the proportion of EU funding involved in each project — would provide results that were more useful and much easier to interpret. Over time, the UK would also want to see the EU setting high-level targets for results achieved to provide further accountability and help the public interpret what results mean for the level of performance."

Previous Committee Reports

None, but see (35735), 17709/13: Forty-seventh Report HC 83-xlii (2013-14), chapter 1 (30 April 2014).


157   Available at http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/infopoint/publications/europeaid/documents/257a_en.pdf.  Back

158   Available at http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/130243.pdf.  Back

159   Gen Co Deb, European Committee B, 5 February 2014, cols. 3-12. Back

160   Gen Co Deb, European Committee B, 5 February 2014, cols. 3-12. Back

161   See (35735), 17709/13: Forty-seventh Report HC 83-xlii (2013-14), chapter 1 (30 April 2014). Back

162   Gen Co Deb, European Committee B, 6 November 2014, cols. 3-10. Back

163   "The Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation" (2011), agreed by a wide range of governments and organisations offering a framework for continued dialogue and efforts to enhance the effectiveness of development co-operation.  Back

164   The results terminology used in this document follows the OECD DAC definition, where the term results should be interpreted as covering the results chain from outputs to outcomes and impact.  Back

165   I.e. the Development Cooperation Instrument, European Development Fund, European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (for the component "Globalthreats" only), Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation, Instrument for Greenland and their predecessor instruments covering the programming period 2007-2013. Back

166   SWD(15) 80, p.3. Back


 
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