At its meeting on 13 July, the European Parliament’s Development Committee held an exchange of views with EC and civil society representatives to feed into the emerging EU position for the international High Level forum on Aid Effectiveness being held in Busan in November. The committee has prepared a draft report for adoption by the Parliament in the autumn calling, inter alia, for continued support for the aid effectiveness agenda, EU leadership and a focus on democratic ownership and accountability. EC proposals will be published in the first half of September. EU Development Ministers are scheduled to adopt the bloc’s formal position at their meeting in November.
The civil society organisations’ (CSO) representative outlined the main messages being put forward by the “BetterAid” coalition (including CSOs from both North and South) which is much along the same lines as the Development Committee’s thinking. She noted, however, that while the first draft of the Busan Outcome Document does reflect a number of CSO concerns, it does not adequately address key challenges, findings and core messages as demanded by civil society to strengthen and deepen aid effectiveness principles and make commitments informed by a coherent and rights-based development effectiveness paradigm.
CSOs also stressed the need to create space and structures that enable civil society and parliaments, not just governments, to be involved in democratic ownership. Their role and participation should be recognized and strengthened in Busan. Related to this, the World Bank Institute, in collaboration with LenCD and OECD, is collecting case stories from around the world as a contribution to the Busan meeting on how capacity development has contributed to strengthening inclusive stakeholder ownership of development processes. Also related to this, ActionAid last week published a study on ‘Better Aid to End Aid Dependence’ which aims to draw lessons for democratic ownership from experiences of aid recipient countries’ aid relationships
In the debate, several MEPs stressed that there is need to involve emerging donors in the aid effectiveness process. Two papers published last week are relevant in relation to this issue. “Chinese Development Aid in Africa. What, Where, Why and How Much?” and “Aid With Chinese Characteristics: Chinese Aid and Development Finance Meet the OECD-DAC Regime”, both by Deborah Brautigam, examine what China is doing as a donor in order to answer questions about its potential impact on the OECD’s rules and norms about foreign aid.
The European Commission representative said that evidence shows that there has been progress and that aid reform is happening and producing results, but admitted that this happens slowly. The EC, therefore, thinks that implementation of the aid effectiveness principles should be strengthened. To do this, the EU must stay committed to the Paris Declaration and Accra Action Plan, but also find priority themes and actions relevant to development results on which to focus in future – such as democratic ownership, transparency, predictability, reduced fragmentation, alignment and accountability for results.
The EC also believes the aid effectiveness agenda needs to be broadened. Evidence shows that implementing aid effectiveness principles is helping to achieve development results for Official Development Aid. These principles should also be extended to other types of financing such as climate change funding, blending of ODA and private investments, and South-South and triangular cooperation.
The EC also sees the need for closer involvement of different development partners – civil society, private sector, parliaments, but also emerging economies – in the aid effectiveness process.
Finally, the EC thinks the future focus of aid effectiveness implementation should be at the country level in order to take local contexts flexibly into account and be more effective on the ground.
Melissa Julian is Knowledge Management Officer and editor of the Weekly Compass at ECDPM.
This blog post features the author’s personal view and does not represent the view of ECDPM.