EC Evaluations on the results of the 2007-13 EU legal instruments for external cooperation: Lessons Learnt

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    As part of the reform of EU external assistance undertaken by the European Commission in the early years of the new millennium, a major rationalisation of the EU Budget chapter for external action was carried out. The new multi-annual budget or EU ‘financial perspectives’, as they are known, that came into force in January 2007 thus included a set of 10 external action budget lines or ‘financial instruments’ instead of the previous 35. This reform involved a protracted negotiation with the two other concerned European institutions, the European Parliament and the Council, and placed considerably more management authority in the hands of the Commission in exchange for what was seen at the time as a clearer statement of objectives and policy against which the Commission would then be held accountable. The new budget lines were thus seen as ‘policy based instruments’ and their regulations were explicitly linked with related policy statements.

    In the development cooperation sector, the funds for which constitute a large proportion of the EU external action budget, this reform was widely welcomed and the OECD DAC Peer Review of the EC in 2007 concluded:

    “The consolidation of financial instruments has been an important and necessary exercise and will result in greater transparency, efficiency and effectiveness. But there may be more opportunities ahead to further integrate and reduce them, particularly in 2013 when most financial instruments expire. The Community needs to persist in streamlining its budgetary arrangements.”

    As we approach the end of the period of this multi-annual budget (2007-2013) it is therefore appropriate to look back and see what lessons can be learned in time for these to feed into the reflection on the future successor instruments. This study is a contribution to this reflection. 

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