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The Coordination of European Development Cooperation in the Field: Myth or Reality?

January 2003

Lehtinen, T. 2003. The Coordination of European Development Cooperation in the Field: Myth or Reality?. (ECDPM Discussion Paper 43). Maastricht: ECDPM.

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In political debates, the EC and Member States deplore the lack of coordination, coherence and complementarity of EC development cooperation since its foundation by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992. At the same time, efforts have been made to agree on a common interpretation of ‘complementarity’ and on ways to put this principle into practice. This has proven to be a difficult process: conceptual confusion, competing political interests, bureaucratic resistance and conflicting views on implementation strategies seem to have blurred the political debate. In recent years complementarity has appeared to be more of a political slogan than a practical reality.

But what is the situation in the field? Is European aid coordinated? Does European coordination make sense in developing countries? There are several trends and emerging approaches that challenge the myth of non-coordination in the field. Often such coordination comes in the form of pragmatic, bottom-up approaches that make daily cooperation easier, rather than as a result of Council resolutions or political declarations. 

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European external affairsEU Development Policy and PracticePolicy Coherence for DevelopmentDiscussion Papers (series)ResearchACP Group of StatesAid effectivenessEuropean Union (EU)AfricaEurope

External authors

Terhi Lehtinen