2. PARTICIPATION IN EC DEVELOPMENT POLICY
OF NON-STATE BODIES
Commission Communication: Participation of non-state actors in EC development policy.
|Document originated:||7 November 2002
|Deposited in Parliament:||19 November 2002
|Basis of consideration:||EM of 4 December 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||None
|To be discussed in Council:||No date set
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||Not cleared; further information requested
The current situation and the EC's expectations
2.1 The EC's Development Policy Statement of November
2000 recognises that
ownership of strategies by partner countries, and wide-ranging
participation by all segments of society, are key to successful
development programmes and should be encouraged. Implementation
of the Cotonou Agreement is leading to the increasing involvement
of Non-State Actors (NSAs) in ACP countries.
Examples of NSAs include non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
and community-based organisations and their representatives, whether
from trade unions or employers' associations, business organisations,
associations of churches, universities, cultural associations,
media groups or the private sector.
2.2 The Communication is a contribution to the broad
policy discussion on this participatory approach. It aims to clarify
expectations and focusses on strengthening the involvement of
NSAs in the development process.
2.3 The Commission notes that there has been increasing
consultation with NSAs in connection with summits, such as in
the run-up to the Doha World Trade Organisation meeting in November
2001, when their participation was particularly valuable to the
Commission. The broad dialogue between institutions and citizens
has also provided valuable input into the design and implementation
of policies centred on the Millennium Development Goals and it
has helped to promote good governance, democratisation and respect
for human rights.
2.4 In Latin America, a dialogue with NSAs has been conducted
in parallel with the political dialogue at sub-regional, regional
and, sometimes, national level. Under the MEDA programme,
NSAs receive structural support to build up capacity, and governments
are encouraged to enter into dialogue with them. In practice,
the Commission says, NSAs are gradually becoming key partners
in EC development policy and implementation. About _1.4 billion
of the _7 billion per year of EC official development assistance
(20%) is being managed by or with NSAs.
2.5 According to Article 7.1.b of the Humanitarian Aid
Regulation (1257/96), in order to qualify for Community financing
under the Regulation, NGOs are required to have their main headquarters
in an EC Member State or in a third country in receipt of Community
aid. Exceptionally, their headquarters may be in a third donor
country. Those which work on a long-term basis with ECHO have
to sign a Framework Partnership Agreement. The Commission notes
that, although third-country NGOs are not eligible for direct
funding from the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO),
they play an important role. They have local knowledge and can
provide an efficient link between the end of a humanitarian emergency,
when ECHO funding is withdrawn, and the beginning of rehabilitation
and development. The Commission invites them to play an even more
important role in identifying needs in the field.
Improving the quality of the participatory approach
2.6 The Commission suggests that the gradual transfer
of resources and responsibilities to EC Delegations overseas (the
"deconcentration process") will help to improve the
quality of the participatory approach. Two important issues for
Heads of Delegation are the lack of political will on the part
of national governments to involve NSAs, and the poor capacity
of the NSAs themselves. Heads of Delegation will, in future, play
a central role in promoting and facilitating the dialogue between
NSAs and the relevant authorities. They will also be expected
to ensure close cooperation with EU Member States and international
agencies. The role of the Headquarters in Brussels will be to
provide support to Delegations by disseminating good practice
and ensuring that policy is coherent.
2.7 The Commission sets out what it sees as the respective
roles of the northern and southern NSAs (i.e. in developed and
developing countries respectively). It notes that the northern
NSAs are moving from implementing projects in the south towards
capacity-building, to enable their partners in developing countries
to become more "active, credible and well-structured".
The Commission comments:
"The challenge that northern partners are expected to address
is to build on this progress and develop closer partnerships with
their local counterparts, and move away gradually from direct
intervention at operational level. The challenge for donors is
to support this development".
The Commission's conclusion
2.8 In order to ensure adequate consultation of and participation
by NSAs, the Commission says that certain standards should be
met. These include aiming to:
- promote the involvement of NSAs in preparing strategy papers;
- consult NSAs more systematically on Country Strategy Papers
and throughout the programming process, as part of discussions
with relevant national authorities;
- involve NSAs in discussions on trade policies and economic
- ensure that different interest groups are represented; and
- give NSAs time to prepare before consultations and to take
their views into account.
2.9 Finally, the Commission says that it plans to prepare
guidelines for EC Delegations on NSA involvement in the development
process. In addition, it will prepare a set of specific guidelines
for the Delegations in the ACP countries of Africa, the Caribbean
and the Pacific on implementing the participatory approach required
by the Cotonou Agreement.
The Government's view
2.10 The Secretary of State for International Development
(Clare Short) says that the Government welcomes the approach set
out in this Commission Communication:
"It is in line with the UK Government White Paper Eliminating
World Poverty: A challenge for the 21st Century
which recognises the important role that the wide range of groups
which make up civil society can play in the elimination of poverty
and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals".
2.11 The Minister comments that the Government's own
experience has shown that building up the capacity of civil society
in "southern", that is developing, countries is crucial
if they are to be effective in taking on an enhanced role. She
adds that it is encouraging that the Communication recognises
the importance of taking into account varying political conditions
and of adopting specific approaches in response, as in its recognition
of the changing role of northern (European) NSAs. She regards
it as important that NSAs and southern governments are involved
in producing the Guidelines for EC Delegations on NSA involvement
in the development process and that these are fully translated
into action on the ground.
2.12 The Secretary of State then says that the Government
does not, however, agree that EC humanitarian aid funding through
ECHO should be restricted to funding NGOs with headquarters in
an EU member state or exceptionally in a third donor country.
In its view it should be possible to form partnerships with NGOs
which are not based in the EU, when southern NGOs have the necessary
2.13 Over the last few months the Government has been
actively involved in discussions on the Communication and has
"shared its own thinking" with the Commission on the
importance of involving southern civil society. The Liaison Committee
of European Development NGOs (CLONG) and the UK NGO network, British
Overseas NGOs for Development, have both been consulted by the
Commission and propose to put together a common position of European
NGOs on the document.
2.14 We note that the Government does not agree with
one of the provisions of the Humanitarian Aid Regulation and ask
the Minister whether it intends to press for the Regulation to
be amended so that southern NGOs which are not based in the EU
can qualify for EC humanitarian aid funding.
2.15 It is clear that the document has aroused the
interest of European and British NGOs. We ask the Minister to
inform us if their analysis, and their subsequent common position
on the document, results in any representations to the Government
or the Commission that the policy proposed in it should be changed
in any significant way.
2.16 Meanwhile, we shall not clear the document.
- ; see HC 23-xxviii (1999-2000), paragraph 31 (1 Nov 2000). Back
Caribbean and Pacific countries which are signatories to the Cotonou
countries benefitting from the MEDA programme are Algeria, Cyprus,
Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia,
Turkey and WestBank/Gaza Strip. Back