Select Committee on International Development Second Report


65. European development assistance could make a major contribution to the elimination of poverty; the current reforms are an effort to realise this potential. Overall, we welcome the reforms, and look forward to seeing their impact on the ground. In respect of the management of European development assistance, we are persuaded that the reforms are on track. As regards the allocation of resources, we are concerned that there remains too much of a focus on the "near-abroad", at the expense of developing countries. Our key conclusions are that:

  • The new procedures for the programming and implementation of European development assistance - the Country Strategy Papers, the Inter-service Quality Support Group, deconcentration to Delegations, and efforts to improve evaluation and to reduce payment delays—are extremely welcome and, whilst delays are still unacceptable, these reforms seem to be broadly on track;

  • The EC's ability to staff its Delegations adequately and appropriately is crucial to the success of the reform programme and must be addressed as a matter of urgency;

  • The current allocation of roles and responsibilities amongst DG Development, DG External Relations and EuropeAid is confusing. Maintaining a strong institutional focus for development, a single Directorate General and a single Commissioner should have responsibility for development as regards both ACP and non-ACP countries;

  • The EC must work to maximise coherence between its development policy and policies in other issue areas. In particular the issue of agricultural export subsidies must be addressed if the coming round of WTO trade negotiations is really to be a "development round";

  • The EC's development assistance and specifically its ODA remains insufficiently focussed on low income countries and the elimination of poverty; clear targets must be set to improve the poverty focus of EC development assistance.

66. After too many years of disappointment and frustration with the inefficiencies of European development assistance, we have been pleased to see some progress. We hope that this predominantly Brussels-based progress is translated quickly into on the ground improvements in development practice. We remain concerned however that too much EC development assistance is spent on the "near abroad". Clare Short outlined to us her nightmare scenario; a future in which the EC is an efficient channel for the disbursement of aid—including an increasing share of UK aid—to the EU's middle income neighbours.[132] If we are to avoid this outcome, progress must now be made with improving the poverty focus of European development assistance.

132   Q238 Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 23 April 2002