Linking policy and practice in international cooperation

Taken together, aid via the EU institutions for the period 2014-2020 amounts to over € 85 billion. This makes the EU institutions the one of the world’s largest aid donors. This aid targets over 100 countries worldwide, is invested in several priority sectors and is channelled to countries in a variety of ways. Nonetheless, the EU itself has not yet reached the target of providing 0.7% of Gross National Income as Official Development Assistance (ODA) – despite several commitments to do so.

The EU’s development assistance is partly funded from the overall EU budget, and partly from a special fund for cooperation with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries – the European Development Fund (EDF).

Negotiations on the EU budget involve trade-offs between different policy areas – in times of austerity; development aid is increasingly under pressure

Stakeholders are making efforts to promote particular funding priorities. The EU institutions are at the same time designing and programming aid allocations per country.

According to the EU’s development policy the ‘Agenda for Change’, one of the keys to achieving maximum impact and value for money is a differentiated approach to aid allocation. At the country level, programming is under-way where EU delegations, partner countries, and EU institutions at HQ level negotiate priority sectors in a process where parties have sometimes conflicting interests and incentives.

In this context, the Strengthening European External Action Programme at ECDPM is working to:

  • Keep European and ACP stakeholders up to date on the latest developments in the negotiations on the levels, priorities, programming and implementation of EU aid;
  •  Highlight the various trade-offs made in the process of negotiating the EU budget and programming of development assistance and ensure that ACP and EU stakeholders understand the implications;
  • Contribute to discussions and assessments of the functioning, relevance and effectiveness of the EU’s various funds for development cooperation;
  • Keep track of the inter-institutional discussions and negotiations regarding the allocation and programming of EU aid;
  • Contribute to specific commissioned strategic evaluations for the European Commission Development Cooperation Directorate (DEVCO) to promote learning and accountability in the use of these funds.
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