2020 wish list: What European development players are hoping for this year

What do European development players want in 2020? Photo by: REUTERS / Yves Herman

BRUSSELS — With a 2021-2027 budget to hash out, a sweeping accord to conclude with African, Caribbean, and Pacific partners, and a long-running dispute to resolve between two major multilateral development banks, 2020 will be a critical year for development policy in the European Union.

Devex asked the main players, “If you could wish one thing for your organization in 2020 (apart from more money!) what would it be and why?”

Here’s what they wrote back:

Suma Chakrabarti, president, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development: When I speak with leaders from our countries of operations, I am often struck by how strongly they want to develop technologically, how much genuine interest there is now in the green economy, and how important equal opportunities are. The EBRD is working on its strategy for 2021-25, which will be approved by our shareholders in May. At the same time, the Bank’s governors will elect a new president, as my eight years at the helm come to an end. So my wish for the EBRD, and for my successor, is onwards and upwards with our vital work in policy reform and investment in our markets on three continents, investing in low-carbon transition, technology and inclusion.

Tanya Cox, director, CONCORD Europe: A seat at the table — or behind the PC — in order to be able to better influence key negotiations and policies, especially regarding Africa. Currently these are undertaken by bureaucrats and “leaders” (including from Africa, if it’s lucky enough to be involved), but we all know that they are not the most in touch with what’s important for people — the general public that makes up the vast majority of any population. Unless civil society is consulted, leaders will be none the wiser. And policies will be none the better. Take the economy … politics … people are feeling left out and left behind. And social unrest is growing. Include civil society and a lot of that will change!

Patrick I. Gomes, secretary-general, Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (formerly known as ACP Group of States): Good health is the first wish I would extend to all staff at the ACP Secretariat. With good health, peace and happiness in their families will be the wish for a conducive workplace ... This will bring, in 2020, greater achievements in serving the 79 member states of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) — our new title.

[At a policy level, I wish] to deepen our commitment to support ACP Member States in fulfilling the UN's Agenda 2030 SDGs, especially on gender equality (SDG 5) and access to justice (SDG 16). Those two goals are central to the success of the SDGs as women’s empowerment is central in the implementation of all SDGs. For the post-Cotonou Agreement [with the EU], the first of the strategic priorities for rights-based and people-centred societies followed by peace and security are all captured in SDG 16.

Werner Hoyer, president, European Investment Bank: Time and partners for a free, thorough discussion about the role of this institution in the strategic framework of the European Union setup. Because I believe in the present political setup in most member states, and in the union itself, we do not discuss enough, strategy, Europe in the global context.

Janez Lenarčič, commissioner for crisis management, European Commission: My wish for the EU next year is that it will further improve its crisis management. While hoping that fewer people around the world will need urgent assistance might be unrealistic, especially due to numerous ongoing conflicts, I would wish that in the face of climate change the EU and its member states step-up efforts to improve our preparedness. Climate change is undoubtedly increasing the intensity and frequency of natural disasters, whereas without ambitious action the consequences of this phenomenon could become unmanageable.

Tomas Tobé, development committee chair, European Parliament: I hope that we can step up our scrutiny of the implementation of European development aid, to ensure that everything we do, and every euro we spend, effectively contributes to Agenda 2030. I believe we can do more to bridge the gap between the policy priorities that we outline in Parliament, and the way in which this policy is subsequently put into concrete action.

Jutta Urpilainen, commissioner for international partnerships, European Commission: I wish that 2020 would be the year that cooperation and multilateralism regarding development [are] more widely once again progressed. Agreeing on post-Cotonou … [the] new Instrument NDICI and Africa strategy could all manifest the strong will to coordinate our work in order to get better results and impact on people’s lives globally. To eradicate poverty and fight the inequalities, you need to join forces and be efficient with the resources available.

Bruno Wenn, chairman, Association of Bilateral European Development Finance Institutions: As we will be entering the last decade leading to the SDGs, EDFI’s ambition for 2020 is to scale up its contribution to the SDGs and to harmonise the impact measurement of our SDG investments, especially by fighting climate change, reducing inequalities and boosting job creation in Sub-Saharan Africa. In order to invest more in fragile situations, credit enhancement and risk-sharing instruments are needed. The same applies for mobilising more private sector investment in those countries. We therefore wish to see a reform of EU financial instruments to simplify their accessibility and use in order to give European DFIs access to these instruments. As highlighted in the last Council of the [EU finance ministers], we encourage the European Commission and member states to create incentives to strengthen cooperation within the development finance architecture.

Emily Wigens, EU director, One Campaign: From the climate strikes to the historic turn-out at the EU elections, we are increasingly seeing young Europeans stepping up and speaking out. ONE’s wish for 2020 is therefore that European and African youth can meaningfully contribute to decision-making on the issues that will shape their futures — particularly the EU’s long-term budget, the European Green Deal and the EU-Africa partnership. The EU needs to prove it’s listening and making decisions in line with citizens’ expectations. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that she wants to strengthen the links between people and institutions, so we hope that 2020 will be a year where dreams really do come true.

About the author

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    Vince Chadwick

    Vince Chadwick is the Brussels Correspondent for Devex. He covers the EU institutions, member states, and European civil society. A law graduate from Melbourne, Australia, he was social affairs reporter for The Age newspaper, before moving to Europe in 2013. He covered breaking news, the arts and public policy across the continent, including as a reporter and editor at POLITICO Europe.