Select Committee on European Union Thirty-Fourth Report

CHAPTER 4: Can Europe deliver?

100.  The EU Strategy for Africa requires action to be taken by the Commission, the Council and the Member States individually. There are limits to what each of these institutions can achieve, both legally and practically, but it is clear that without a significant degree of co-ordination the aims of the Strategy will not be met. Without coherent policies the EU will not prove itself a credible partner for Africa.

101.  This Chapter considers the various tensions that exist within the Strategy itself and between those who are tasked with its implementation.

Policy coherence for development

102.  The Strategy for Africa is predicated on the idea that its different elements will come together to promote sustainable development. Whilst peace and security, governance and human rights are promoted as desirable in themselves, they are also regarded as the foundation stones upon which a stable economy can be built. For example, the Strategy states that the EU will enhance support for post conflict reconstruction in order to secure lasting peace and development, make trade work for the poor and closely monitor Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) so that they help achieve development objectives. Development is clearly at the heart of the Strategy and should, on this basis, inform the EU's policies in many other areas. Behind the rhetoric, however, are EU policies truly coherent and, if not, what more needs to be done to place development at the heart of EU policy-making?

103.  The OECD offers a working definition of coherence as efforts "to ensure that the objectives and results of a government's development policies are not undermined by other policies of that same government which impact on development countries, and that these other policies support development objectives, where feasible."[80] The EU Strategy appears on paper to be a shining example of an attempt by the EU to co-ordinate its various policies in development, security and economic growth to achieve the MDGs. However, it does not state how this level of coherence will actually be brought about. Nor does it address issues such as agricultural policy which have a significant impact on African economies.

104.  Under the Treaty on European Union (TEU) the EU has a duty to ensure that its external activities are coherent, though without any emphasis on development as a priority.[81] Despite this, the Commission has been gradually moving towards emphasising development needs as part of its overall policy formulation.

105.  Prompted into action by the forthcoming UN Millennium Review Summit in September 2005 the Commission produced a relatively overlooked Communication spelling out just how it intended to ensure policy coherence for development.[82] This was the first time such a document had been adopted by the Council;[83] previous attempts to formulate such a policy had not gone past the level of the Commissioner.[84] Therefore an agreement that policy coherence within the Commission itself should be sought was a major step forward.

106.  The Communication stated that in 11 priority areas of Commission competence—including trade, agriculture, fisheries and the environment—the Commission must implement the concept of coherence for development. Under each heading the Commission set out what it would do to ensure that its policies in that area were compatible with development needs. The Communication was welcomed by the Council on 24 May which agreed to take account of the objectives of development co-operation in all policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries. The Council also committed itself to an assessment of existing internal procedures, mechanisms and instruments to strengthen the effective integration of development concerns in its decision making procedures on non-development policies.[85]

107.  The Communication itself stressed that the impact of EU non-aid policies on developing countries should not be underestimated, and neither should their potential to make a positive contribution to the development process in these countries.[86] In terms of coherence this is a welcome statement, but it may be questioned whether negative impacts can truly be avoided, much less whether trade policy, for example, will be formulated with development aims in mind.

108.  This emphasis on development needs should, however, assist in ensuring that the Strategy's ultimate aim of achieving the MDGs is met.

109.  We commend the EU's commitment to policy coherence for development and agree that the EU's policies, particularly under the Strategy for Africa, should be formulated taking into account their potential impact upon developing countries.

110.  An additional dimension to the concept of policy coherence for development is the need to ensure that development policies themselves are applied in a coherent and consistent fashion. The Strategy for Africa does not distinguish between countries with different developmental needs or found in different regions of the continent. The advantage of this is that projects and programmes under the Strategy can be targeted where they are most needed, even within countries where average incomes are not amongst the lowest in the world.

111.  Witnesses also drew our attention to the need to ensure that EU policy was not only internally coherent, but that it was coherent with the needs and priorities of the African countries themselves. We consider in Chapter Eight what the EU must do to ensure that Africans have a real input into the implementation of the Strategy and EU policy-making.

Institutional divisions within the EU

112.  Whilst the EU Treaties are relatively clear on legislative competencies within the EU, it is not always clear who is responsible for the implementation of particular policies, especially in the field of development where there is a shared competence between the EU and the Member States. Nor does the Strategy for Africa itself specify the means by which its aims should be achieved. It is necessary for action to be taken by the Commission, the Council and the Member States individually. This section considers the extent to which these various institutions are capable of implementing the Strategy given both internal divisions and the complex relations between them.


113.  There are two Directorates-General primarily responsible for the implementation of the EU Strategy for Africa. DG Development, under Commissioner Louis Michel, is responsible for those parts of the Strategy related to development assistance and humanitarian aid. DG External Relations (RELEX), headed by Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, is responsible more broadly for the external relations aspects of the Strategy. The split is essentially a geographical one with DG Development responsible for sub-Saharan countries (ACP countries) and RELEX responsible for the European Neighbourhood Policy and relations with countries north of the Sahara.

114.  Other Commissioners are responsible for areas within the Strategy such as trade. A single Directorate-General used to have responsibility for both aid and trade with the ACP countries. The two were split in 2000 and the development focus of DG Trade correspondingly reduced. The most immediate consequence of this separation of decision-making was that the trade regime was no longer considered an aspect of development aid. The need for coherent policy-making in these two areas therefore became correspondingly greater.

115.  There are certain themes that cross DGs within the Strategy, which renders policy coherence even more difficult. One of the major themes of the Strategy is that of governance, but the Strategy is lacking in detail as to what the EU is trying to promote in terms of good governance. Without co-ordinating mechanisms between the different DGs it is possible that countries north and south of the Sahara will be asked to prioritise different reforms, or that different standards will be applied.

116.  Consultation with African partners is one way in which this risk can be minimized. Through agreeing standards with the AU and NEPAD, the EU can ensure that basic governance reforms are applied throughout the continent.

117.  The EU must work with African partners, as well as co-ordinating its internal activities, to ensure that its policies are coherent across the whole of Africa.

118.  The Commission has developed a number of mechanisms designed to promote policy coherence.[87] These procedures bring together all those working in a particular region or on a specific policy in order that the impact of any particular proposal can be properly assessed. Such mechanisms can only work if those involved are prepared to listen to alternative points of view and compromise on their original proposals.

119.  James Mackie of the European Centre for Development Policy Management argued that the real problem within the Commission was not the specific competencies but the linkages between the different departments and lack of co-ordination. Although inter-institutional co-operation exists on paper, the different DGs have different institutional cultures which more and more leads to "disjunction rather than collaboration". (Q 166)

120.  Attempts at co-ordination were most recently seen in the transformation of the EU sugar regime in 2005. Following recommendations for reform of the trading regime it was recognised that a number of countries, mostly within the Caribbean, would unduly suffer. It was therefore proposed that monetary aid should be provided to growers rather than further delay the necessary reforms.

121.  Our Report on these changes[88] found that although development needs were taken into account, those needs were not fully addressed at the same time as the reforms to the trading regime. Council agreed those reforms before deciding upon an amount to be provided in aid to sugar growers.[89] This disjointing of what might have been a whole package of reforms appeared to indicate that the two Directorates-General (Agriculture and Development) had failed to work together.

122.  However, the Director of Development Policy within the Commission regards this as one of DG Development's successes. In evidence given to the House of Commons International Development Committee he stated that the original proposal from DG Agriculture was significantly more disadvantageous to sugar producers from poorer nations including in terms of the price cut, of the period to implement the reforms and so on. DG Development refused to accept the original proposal and it was modified to make it more compatible with development purposes. This was the first time DG Development had won such an argument, assisted by the Council's decision on policy coherence.[90]

123.  Policy coherence is beginning to have a limited impact within the Commission but we are not yet convinced that officials outside DG Development are fully taking the needs of developing countries into account when first formulating their policies. Policy coherence requires the clear articulation of reasons for acting in a manner which could impact negatively on developing countries in order that counter-arguments may be advanced. Transparency within this process is essential.

124.  The European Commission should continue to facilitate discussions on coherence between different Directorates-General. Commission officials should consider the potential impact of their proposals on developing countries at the outset and be prepared to justify their proposals in public, including any negative impact they might have.


125.  EuropeAid, set up in 2000, is charged with the implementation of all the external aid instruments of the European Commission which are funded by the EC budget and the EDF. It does not deal with either humanitarian aid nor spending under the CFSP. It is responsible for the identification and appraisal of projects and programmes, preparation of financing decisions, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of projects and programmes.

126.  EuropeAid is responsible to a board consisting of all the external relations commissioners. Both Commissioner Michel and Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner take a close interest in overseeing the work of the agency and Commission staff claim that the relationship between the two in this respect is "extremely harmonious and successful."[91]


127.  The EU Strategy for Africa also requires a significant degree of co-operation between the Commission and the Council (including both the Member States and the Secretariat). Our witnesses were not positive about the relationship between the two. (pp 152, 157)

128.  The Council Secretariat, headed by the High Representative, Javier Solana, is responsible for implementation of aspects of the Strategy relating to the Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). This means that peace and security is largely overseen by the Member States. However, it remains unclear where responsibility for certain other aspects of the Strategy, such as governance, lies. Both the Commission and Council have competence and will be able to act under the Strategy.

129.  We examined a similar problem relating to division of responsibility between the Commission and the Council Secretariat in our Report on the EU's Strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.[92] Two years after adoption of that Strategy we found that it remained unclear where the different competencies lay.[93]

130.  Clarity over the division of responsibilities is essential from the outset. The joint implementation matrix would be a suitable starting point. The matrix should specify, in relation to each commitment, who exactly within the EU is responsible for its implementation. Where there is joint responsibility between the Commission and the Council, further details should be provided as to what action each institution will take.


131.  A potentially more significant division than that between or within the EU institutions is that between the EU institutions and the Member States. One of the primary purposes of agreeing an EU Strategy for Africa was to bring together the different institutions and Member States under a common vision for Africa's development. However, the Strategy is broad enough to encompass a wide range of differing views as to what can be done to achieve its aims.

132.  The greatest challenge for co-ordination lies in the area of development where there is shared competence between the EU and its Member States. We discuss this in detail in Chapter Five. However, under most of the Strategy's headings there is scope for contradictory actions to be taken by the EU institutions and the Member States: trade, whilst a Commission competence, can be affected by Member States' own policies on direct investment in African countries; peacekeeping missions, whilst falling under the ESDP, could continue to be organised unilaterally by countries such as France and the United Kingdom;[94] and encouraging good governance is dependent on co-ordination throughout the EU.

133.  As we discussed in Chapter Two,[95] it is beneficial for the EU institutions to act in these areas since the Union's purpose is, at least partly, to bring the Member States together to act in a co-ordinated manner in specific areas. Following enlargement, the Commission and Council are the only actors able to represent European political diversity and to take account of the needs of all the Member States. This is only possible if the Member States allow the EU institutions to act.


134.  The Member States each have their own policies on development and foreign affairs and full agreement on these issues will not prove possible. The special relationships which certain Member States have with particular African countries can lead to preferential policies with examples of poor governance, and even human rights abuses, being overlooked. BOND[96] have argued that if Member States co-ordinated more, it would reinforce the level of trust amongst themselves and make it possible to build up genuine European policies,[97] such as the Strategy for Africa.

135.  Although agreement of the Strategy represented a political buy-in to the Strategy by the Member States, certain States have a far greater involvement in Africa than others. The United Kingdom and France, in particular will be "key Member States" in playing an active role in Africa (Q 85) and it is necessary that such States ensure that implementation of the Strategy remains on the EU's agenda. The United Kingdom Government, as promoter of the Strategy, should take the lead in ensuring that the Strategy is fully implemented.

Regulatory and financial divisions

136.  In a letter to us of June 2004, the then Commissioner for Development, Poul Nielson, wrote that:

"It needs to be recalled that today, European co-operation with Africa is dealt with through three separate groups of co-operation agreements … with different legal bases and financial instruments. There is a need to give a stronger pan-African dimension to our co-operation with Africa and to develop appropriate institutional and financial mechanisms so that we can approach Africa as one continent." (p 161)

137.  Though setting a common vision for the whole of Africa, the Strategy does not directly address the institutional and financial mechanisms which remain in their existing form. Will these mechanisms prevent the pan-African dimension of the Strategy being realised?


138.  Relations between the EU and African countries are regulated by either the Cotonou Agreement (sub-Saharan Africa), the TDCA (South Africa) or the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and European Neighbourhood Policy (North African countries).[98]

139.  There are a number of challenges posed by the existence of these different agreements. The first is that they all have different sources of funding which makes it difficult to determine the source of funding for the Strategy as a whole (see below). Secondly, the agreements result in different dialogue partners which decreases the possibility of obtaining a coherent view from the African states themselves on the continent's needs.

140.  Thirdly the agreements are aimed towards regions with different levels of economic development and have different priorities. We do not regard this as a significant problem in itself since the need to tailor policy towards different countries and regions within Africa would exist whether these agreements had been made or not.

141.  Moreover, the policy areas of the different co-operation agreements are not dissimilar: it is the particular priorities which differ, tailored to each particular region. Sustainable economic growth is a key theme in all three agreements, as is the promotion of human rights and democracy (though less so in relation to South Africa whose record on this is regarded as an example to other African states). These same themes are found within the Strategy for Africa.

142.  The most significant challenge posed by the Cotonou Agreement and Euro-Med Partnership/ENP is their inclusion of non-African states. Within Euro-Med, Middle East countries have security concerns which focus on that particular region. Within the ACP group, countries are unified by their desire to promote policy coherence for development. The group has a combined negotiating power which would be diminished were the EU to begin to treat the six regions within it as separate elements.

143.  The growing partnership between the EU and AU may result in the need for a more unified approach to the continent, but the Strategy itself does not undermine the different priorities accorded to the two main regions of Africa. Given the Strategy's emphasis on listening to African partners, African members of the Euro-Med and ACP Partnerships should be able to determine whether there needs to be a revision of those agreements in order to promote an EU-Africa partnership.


144.  The Strategy for Africa was agreed at the December 2005 European Council, which also reached an agreement on the EU's Future Financial Perspectives. It is therefore unsurprising that it contains little in the way of specific financial commitments for it was unclear when it was being drafted where the necessary funds would be found. However, this lack of clarity is still disappointing since it demonstrates uncertainty about the extent to which the EU is really prepared to deliver on the commitments made in the Strategy.

145.  As we detail in Chapter Five, the EU has made significant commitments in terms of aid to Africa: there should be no shortage of funds available for implementation of the Strategy. Yet it would appear that even the joint implementation matrix agreed at the 8 May 2006 ministerial Troika meeting has, on the whole, failed to allocate these funds. This section examines where the money to implement the Strategy will come from.

146.  In our informal discussions with officials from both the Commission and Austrian government, we gained the impression that those responsible for drafting the joint implementation matrix were treating the European Development Fund (EDF) as the primary source of funding for the Strategy for Africa.

147.  Given that the majority of African states are members of the ACP group of countries, it is unsurprising that the majority of funds for projects directed towards particular countries will derive from the EDF. However, this approach undermines the pan-African approach of the Strategy itself. In particular, it may be asked why dialogue initiatives and capacity-building of the African Union should come solely from the EDF when there are additional instruments available to the Union for financing of external relations.

BOX 10

The European Development Fund

The European Development Fund (EDF) is the main financing instrument of the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement. The EDF exists outside the main EU budget,[99] with the Member States funding it through direct contributions and making all important decisions as to the overall amount of each EDF, timeframes and so on. The European Parliament has limited powers in relation to the EDF relating to granting the discharge. The EDF is managed by the European Commission on behalf of the Member States, subject to provisions of the Cotonou Agreement itself setting out the roles, responsibilities and implementation procedures to which the EU and ACP must adhere.

The 10th EDF was recently agreed for 2008-2013 with an allocation of €22.682 billion. Germany (providing 20.5 per cent of the total), France (19.55 per cent) and the United Kingdom (14.82 per cent) are the largest shareholders. The sum is divided into three areas: national and regional programmes which set out the priority areas for assistance in a country or group of countries (83.5 per cent); intra-ACP and inter-regional programmes, including sector-specific support activities and the institutions of the ACP-EU agreement (9.9 per cent); and the Cotonou Investment Facility which promotes investment and private sector development (6.6 per cent).

The Commission is currently working on the regional and country allocations which will be earmarked funds from the beginning of the 10th EDF. These are likely to be similar to the allocations under the 9th EDF. A number of issues, however, are being given more emphasis than in the past. Besides the MDGs, ACP countries' commitment to regional integration and Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are being given more weight. Allocations are based upon individual countries' and regions' needs and performance and may be modified over the six year period following mid-term reviews.

148.  The MEDA programme is the main financial instrument for the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. This programme also provides funding under the European Neighbourhood Policy for southern Mediterranean countries. From 1995 to 2003, MEDA committed €5,458 million in co-operation programmes, projects and other supporting activities, the regional activities comprising around 15 per cent of this budget. The other important source of funding is the European Investment Bank that has lent €14 billion for developing activities in the Euro-Mediterranean Partners since 1974 (€3.7 billion in 2002-2003).

149.  Aside from these specific funds, there are currently a significant number of financial instruments which may be used by the Commission in relation to Africa. Some of these are geographical, such as MEDA, others are thematic, including spending on humanitarian relief, crisis management and development.

150.  The Commission, as part of the new Financial Perspectives has proposed a series of six new financial instruments to simplify the budget funding structure (expected to be agreed during 2006).[100] The proposals were designed partly to ensure a clearer distinction between the political and security policies included within the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI)[101] and development policy to be found within the Development Co-operation and Economic Co-operation Instrument. However, there remains a clear developmental aspect to the neighbourhood policy which will be funded from the ENPI and which will apply to a number of African countries.[102] Despite the Commission's new simplified structure therefore, it will not be possible to oversee funding for Africa within the EU budget through one single instrument. Transparency will accordingly be essential.

151.  Further to the budget for external relations there is funding allocated to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) to which Member States contribute according to a defined formula.[103] This funding is used in particular for civilian and military missions under the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) which are becoming more important in Africa.[104] For civilian operations costs borne by the EU are financed as a general rule from the CFSP budget whilst additional costs such as the provision of personnel are borne by the Member States. For military operations the Athena mechanism was set up in 2004 to administer the common costs.[105]

152.  The CFSP budget is relatively small and there is significant demand for it to be spent on strategically important areas such as the Western Balkans. Accordingly there is a limit to the extent to which it can be spent on African projects. Moreover, since CFSP decisions must be taken by the Council as and when they arise, there is little scope for their inclusion within the joint implementation matrix which requires those consulting with African partners to decide upon future commitments.

153.  The final, but possibly most significant, source of funding for the Strategy will be the bilateral development assistance provided by the Member States. We examine in more detail in Chapter Five how this relates to the EU budget. Here it suffices to say that it is beyond the competence of the Commission to commit funds from Member States, that Member State funding does not have to be coherent with EU funding and that it is difficult to see how individual Member State funding could be used for pan-African initiatives such as building the capacity of the African Standby Force (ASF).[106]

154.  The focus on the EDF as the primary source of funding for the Strategy for Africa is understandable but not inevitable. Although certain sources of funding, including from Member States through the CFSP budget and bilateral assistance, cannot be incorporated into plans being drawn up by EU officials, the EDF is not the only budget available to the EU. The proposed new financial instruments, once agreed, should also be available for fulfilling the commitments under the Strategy.

155.  In making proposals for new initiatives under the Strategy, the Commission should determine which source of funding would be most suitable for each initiative, and justify that decision as part of its proposal.

80   Policy Coherence: Vital for global development OECD Observer Policy Brief (2003). Back

81   Article 3. Back

82   Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee Policy Coherence for Development: Accelerating Progress Towards the Millennium Development Goals COM (2005) 134 Final. Back

83   General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels, 24 May 2005 Council of the European Union 8817/05. Back

84   International Development Committee, Oral Evidence (2005-2006) EU Development Co-operation and External Relations Policy (HC 745), Q 4. Back

85   General Affairs and External Relations Council, Brussels, 24 May 2005, Council of the European Union 8817/05. Back

86   Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee Policy Coherence for Development: Accelerating Progress Towards the Millennium Development Goals COM (2005) 134 Final, p 4. Back

87   Appendix Seven. Back

88   European Union Committee, 18th Report (2005-2006): Too much or too little? Changes to the EU sugar regime (HL 80). Back

89   Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Brussels, 22-24 November 2005, Council of the European Union 14178/05, p 9. Back

90   International Development Committee, Oral Evidence (2005-2006) EU Development Co-operation and External Relations Policy (HC 745), Q 4.  Back

91   International Development Committee, Oral Evidence (2005-2006) EU Development Co-operation and External Relations Policy (HC 745), Q 42. Back

92   EU Strategy Against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction 10 December 2003, Council of the European Union 15656/03. Back

93   European Union Committee, 13th Report (2004-2005): Preventing Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: The EU Contribution (HL 96) paragraphs 68-69. Back

94   Though unilateral peacekeeping missions are becoming much less likely-see Chapter Seven paragraphs 296-297. Back

95   Paragraphs 28-34. Back

96   British Overseas NGOs for Development.  Back

97   Strength in Unity Oliver Consolo, BOND Networker, May 2006. Back

98   Appendix Six. Back

99   The Commission has proposed for some time that the EDF should be budgetised. The UK Government, along with some other Member States, is firmly against this proposal which was discussed in our previous Report (European Union Committee, 12th Report (2003-2004): EU Development Aid in Transition (HL75)). The 10th EDF is once again outside the main EC budget, but contains a provision allowing for budgetisation during the period of the 10th EDF (2008-2013) should the Member States agree (Proposal for a Council Decision on the position to be adopted by the Community within the ACP-EC Council of Ministers Back

100  concerning the multiannual financial framework for the period 2008-2013 and the modifications to be inserted in the agreement revising the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000 and revised in Luxembourg on 25 June 2005 COM (2006) 132 Final, adopted at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Brussels, 22 May 2006, Council of the European Union 9170/06)

Appendix Eight. Back

101   This instrument will replace the MEDA programme along with TACIS (which supports Eastern European Countries and Russia) along with other thematic instruments relevant to the Neighbourhood Policy. Back

102   Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.  Back

103   The United Kingdom currently pays approximately 17 per cent into this budget.  Back

104   See Chapter Seven. Back

105   Council Decision 2004/197/CFSP establishing a mechanism to administer the financing of the common costs of European Union operations having military or defence implications. Under this mechanism the Member States and, where appropriate, third countries contribute to a centrally administered budget. Back

106   See Chapter Seven, paragraphs 342-357, for details of the ASF.  Back

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