Four leading European Think-Tanks have published a new policy note titled ‘Development-proofing the EEAS’ in response to the new blueprint on the European External Action Service (EEAS) agreed by the EU General Affairs Council. The document elaborates on the four key priorities set out by heads of the four organisations: Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE) and ECDPM – in their Open Letter of 5 May. Noting that speed is of the essence in implementing the agreement, the paper offers further guidance on some of the ‘how’ questions in the implementation phase.
There are four key points:
1. Equip the EEAS to support the High Representative and the Development Commissioner in promoting coherence of all EU policies with development objectives
The High Representative has a role to play in delivering coherent and joined-up policy, respecting development objectives. The Development Commissioner needs to be given the space and authority to work with the EEAS to promote policy coherence for development and to stop initiatives which do not conform to development principles.
2. Ensure development principles inform the programming of aid
Aid programming must be led by long-term development goals rather than short-term foreign policy interests.
3. Enable the EEAS to facilitate EU donor coordination and division of labour
According to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, a key principle of development cooperation is that the partner country is in the lead in donor coordination. The Lisbon Treaty strengthens the coordination and complementarity requirement in EU development cooperation and gives the Commission a role in facilitating it.4 Given that EU Delegations will come under the authority of the EEAS, the Commission’s coordinating role and responsibility will need to be extended to the EEAS.
4. Ensure both the EEAS and the Commission have the necessary capacity and expertise for strategic thinking on international relations in line with the objectives of EU external action
As the EEAS will have significant responsibilities both in conducting political dialogue with developing countries and regions and in allocating and programming development funds, the EEAS needs some expertise on all areas of EU external action to be able to function as a competent interface with the Commission services.