Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report

EU AID (7066/06, 7067/06, 7068/06)

Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State, Department for International Development

  Thank you for the three Explanatory Memorandums dated 14 March 2006 which Sub-Committee C considered at its meeting on 23 March. The Sub-Committee agreed to clear the first two documents from scrutiny, but to hold the third document "Increasing the impact of EU aid (7068/06)" under scrutiny.

  We recognise that the UK has a high level of expertise in the delivery of aid to third countries. However, we also believe that this expertise should be fully utilised through better coordination with the EU and other Member States and consider that the Commission's overarching aim to improve coordination is sound.

  We note that in paragraph nine of the explanatory memorandum you state that you are looking for a framework "that recognises the leading role of partner governments, encourages alignment of donor programming cycles to those of the partner country, builds on ongoing joint strategy work in country, draws on existing analysis and encourages a mutual accountability relationship where both donor and partners are judged on their performance." We fully agree with the focus on these elements, but feel that the UK, as a major donor of aid to developing countries, in conjunction with the Commission, should be taking a leading role in the development of such a framework.

  We are pleased to see that you are involved in intensive discussions in Brussels with the Commission and other donors to resolve these issues and look forward to seeing your proposals for so doing.

  The Sub-Committee will be meeting again on 30 March and hope to be able to consider your response at that meeting, prior to the 11 April GAERC at which Council conclusions on this document will be adopted. We wish in particular to know what Conclusions you would wish to see adopted at that meeting, and hope that you will be able to agree with our belief in the importance of improved coordination.

23 March 2006

Letter from Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 23 March regarding the above Communication. Your Committee did not clear the document from scrutiny and asked for further information.

  The common EU framework reflects the growing recognition amongst many donors, not just the EU, of the importance of improving how we work together and with governments in developing countries. The UK has been committed to developing joint assistance strategies and frameworks wherever possible.

  Working with a range of donor partners (eg other donors, including outside the EU, World Bank, Regional Development Banks), we have developed or are developing joint strategies in Tanzania, Cambodia, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, and Mozambique; in South Africa we have been working with the Commission. In many countries, we are also working with a range of donor partners in specific sectors.

  The results so far have been encouraging. The common characteristics of these programmes are their responsiveness to the situation in country, the strength of the partner country leadership, the size and number of donors present; and the ability of donors to be flexible and participate in cost and resource sharing arrangements.

  The development of an EU framework needs to be able to address these issues and join up with whatever processes have already begun in the countries where we are already engaged in joint strategy development. We have therefore sought to negotiate a framework that would not only encourage all EU Member States and the Commission to express their development programmes in a common framework, but also encourage other donors, such as the World Bank, into joint arrangements with us.

  In the process leading up to the April General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC), we have led the development of a common statement with Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden that set text for the Council Conclusions on the common framework (text attached). We have also offered key drafting inputs to the Nordic+ Donor Group statement of principles for common frameworks and joint multi annual programming, which have been adopted as introductory key principles in the revised text for the EU paper.

29 March 2006

Annex A


Joint Submission from Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden and UK


  The Council:

    —  Reaffirms its commitments to the Paris Declaration and recognises the importance of reflecting the principles of ownership, harmonisation, alignment, managing for results and mutual accountability in the development of a common framework for country strategies and joint multi annual programming.

    —  Reconfirms that the EU will support partner countries to be the leading force in the preparation, coordination and monitoring of joint multi-annual programming of all donor support to the country. Preparation and coordination should be based on, and aligned with, the partner country's Poverty Reduction Strategy or similar strategy and budget cycle. Member states should, within their respective competences, ensure flexibility in their own procedures to meet alignment principles.

    —  Recalls that joint multi-annual programming will pave the way for coordination, harmonisation of procedures and opportunities and decisions relating to complementarity. Notes in this context with interest the ongoing work of many Member States on developing and applying complementarity principles

    —  Underlines that the Member States and the Commission should under the leadership of the partner country support and participate in existing donor-wide country-level initiatives that are often already supported by different Member States or other donors. Where joint initiatives do not exist the Commission and Member States should encourage the partner government to start a joint donor wide initiative.

    —  Recognises the current draft CFCSP should be applied to Community aid in all regions for the ongoing and forthcoming programming cycles.

    —  Recommends further development of the current draft CFCSP framework in close consultation between the Commission and the Member States in adherence to these principles to give a concise strategy for a new EU joint multi annual programming framework, for gradual adoption across the EU and fully cognisant of individual partner country contexts.

Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP

  Thank you for your letter dated 29 March which Sub-Committee C considered at its meeting on 30 March. The Sub-Committee has agreed to clear the document from scrutiny.

  We thank you in particular for attaching the joint submission from Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden and UK containing proposals for Council Conclusions. We note that this states that the draft common framework for drafting country strategy papers should be further developed to give a concise strategy for a new EU joint multi-annual programming framework, for gradual adoption across the EU.

  We accept that further development of the Commission's proposals would be beneficial. However, we urge you to cooperate fully with the Commission in producing a revised strategy and consider that any such strategy should be fully acceptable to all Member States and be adopted across the EU. We recommend that a new text should be ready for consideration at the 16-17 October Development GAERC and be deposited for scrutiny prior to this meeting.

30 March 2006

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