Letter from an official at the Department
for International Development to the Clerk of the Committee
DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL: 31 MAY 2001
I am writing to let you know the outcome of the European
Union Development Council which took place on 31 May. Due to the
election, the Secretary of State for International Development
was not able to attend. In her absence, the UK was represented
by Sir Nigel Sheinwald, UK Representative to the EU.
The Swedish Presidency proposed a new format for
this Council, comprising two substantive discussions, one in the
morning focusing on the effectiveness of EC development aid and
one in the afternoon focusing on conflict and development. The
Presidency hoped that this format would facilitate substantive
debate on the key issues.
The new format was only partly successful. Interventions
were longer and less focused than hoped. Nevertheless, debate
did focus on the key issues and from a UK point of view the key
messages were given to the Commission. During the morning discussion
on effectiveness, for example, the UK, supported by other Member
States, gave support for measures taken to improve the effectiveness
of EC aid but called strongly for increased poverty focus, clear
indicators of performance, more effective collaboration with other
donors and coherence between development objectives and other
EC policies. Importantly there was agreement between the Commission
and Council that the annual report, combined with an annual update
of the Commission's internal Action Programme, would be used to
report on progress against such indicators. DFID will continue
to work to ensure such progress is made.
The afternoon discussion on conflict produced a consensus
that the EU must make better use of the existing instruments available
to it to prevent conflict and it must improve co-ordination with
other organisations, such as the UN, without creating additional
bureaucracy. It was agreed that development adds a vital longer-term
perspective to analysis of conflict. The importance of building
national capacity to prevent and resolve conflict was also emphasised.
The pre-Council dinner was addressed by Gro-Harlem
Brundtland, Director General of the WHO. Discussion at the dinner
focused on the Global AIDS and Health Fund. At France's initiative
the Council and Commission adopted a Joint Declaration on the
Fund which strongly welcomed the initiative and committed both
parties to exploring how best to develop it further.
Important Council Conclusions on Linking Relief,
Rehabilitation and Development; Election Monitoring; Building
an Effective Partnership between the EC and the UN; and the Follow
up to EC Development Policy were adopted. A resolution on a Commission
working document on integrating environmental considerations into
development policy was passed. Presidency conclusions on the Effectiveness
of EC aid and Conflict Prevention were agreed.
Due to the late issue of a number of these documents
and the dissolution of Parliament due to the election, the UK
agreed these Conclusions and Resolutions prior to gaining scrutiny
clearance. None of the documents have legal or far-reaching financial
implications and they outline positions which are in line with
our existing policies. The Secretary of State wrote to the Leaders
of both Houses of Parliament prior to the Council to explain that
this would be necessary.
A copy of the full Council Conclusions can be viewed
at http://ue.eu.int/newsroom/main.cfm?LANG=1 under Council, Development
Council, 2352.Council-Development 31-05-2001.
I am writing in similar terms to the Clerk of the
International Development Committee and am copying this letter
to Les Saunders, Cabinet Office European Secretariat. The Secretary
of State has written to the Chair of the House of Lords European
6 July 2001