European development ministers have endorsed proposals for a revised agenda for European development aid, a new approach to budget support and the bloc’s initiative to boost resilience to food crises in the Horn of Africa.
On May 14, the Council of the European Union adopted the so-called Agenda for Change and budget support reform proposed by the European Commission in October 2011. The council also expressed support for the commission’s Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience, or SHARE, initiative
The council, which consists of a minister from each of the 27 EU member states, is one of two legislative bodies of the European Union. It shares the final say on EU laws and policies with the European Parliament.
The council’s endorsement of the EU development agenda is an important step in an ongoing process to increase aid effectiveness. The European Commission is now set to adjust its ongoing programs and draft new ones around the Agenda for Change’s key principles.
Sections of the Agenda for Change that the council specifically endorsed include:
The European Union will channel 20 percent of its overall aid budget to projects concerning social protection, health and education.
The bloc will limit its engagement in any partner country to a maximum of three sectors that will be chosen based on that country’s development priorities.
Target recipient countries will be those most in need, in fragile situations, and where aid will have the greatest impact. Focus regions will be the Middle East and North Africa, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and least-developed countries elsewhere.
New financing tools will be explored, including the possibility of blending grants and loans.
Criteria for selecting partner countries will include local needs, capacity, performance and potential aid impact.
Meanwhile, under the endorsed budget support system reform, the European Union will provide budget support through good governance and development contracts, sector reform contracts, and state building contracts with recipient countries. The council also outlined conditions when budget support will be suspended, such as the deterioration of governance.
On SHARE, the council specifically welcomed the focus on the link between relief, rehabilitation and development. A leaked copy of the council’s draft conclusions proposes that the European Commission craft a similar approach for the Sahel region.
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