Boosting coherence to make poverty eradication a reality

European flags fly outside the European Commission’s Berlaymont building in Brussels, Belgium. Photo by: Kevin White / CC BY-NC-ND

I recently launched the 2015 edition of the European Commission’s report on Policy Coherence for Development — or PCD — that shows that the European Union remains a PCD-frontrunner on the international stage, having made good progress over the past two years.

“What is Policy Coherence for Development?” you may ask. In short, it is about taking account of development objectives in all of the EU's policies that are likely to affect developing countries. We have to minimize contradictions and build synergies between different EU policies to benefit developing countries and increase the effectiveness of development cooperation. Policy coherence currently focuses on five strategic areas: trade and finance, food security, climate change, migration and security.

We take this work seriously. Not just because it is an obligation under the Lisbon Treaty, but even more because policy coherence for development matters — for the future of our partner countries and for global sustainable development. In recent years, both the EU institutions and the member states have made great efforts to strengthen procedures, instruments and mechanisms for PCD at all levels.

On trade, which is crucial for economic growth and sustainable development, the EU remains the most open market in the world for developing countries, with total exports from least developed countries to the EU currently worth over 35 billion euros ($37.5 billion) annually. In order to assist developing countries to benefit from this huge trade potential, the EU and its member states also remain the most important aid for trade donor in the world, providing a total of 11.7 billion euros in 2013. Africa is the biggest recipient.

On climate change, in October 2014, the EU agreed to reduce within its own borders greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2030, increase energy efficiency by at least 27 percent and the share of renewable energy to at least 27 percent. In addition to the positive impact of such reductions within Europe, policy coherence on climate change also means that the EU is supporting climate-related actions in developing countries, for example, having recently launched a new phase of the Global Climate Change Alliance — known as GCCA+ — to foster effective dialogue and cooperation on climate change, in particular with least developed countries and small island developing states.

On migration, in 2013, 232 million people were considered international migrants, with almost half living in developing countries. The EU's external migration policy — the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility — helps ensure policy coherence between migration and development policy.

Finally, on peace and security, a new EU Conflict Early Warning System was rolled out globally in September 2014. The system looks at long-term risks for the emergence or escalation of violent conflict and is designed to close the gap between early warning and early action.

These are just a few examples of the progress that has been made on policy coherence. However, that is not to say that we have achieved our goals in this area. I know that more can and should be done. The ongoing migration crisis is one clear example of a challenge for policy coherence in many areas.

Policy coherence for development must also be responsive to the prevailing international environment. In this respect, the recent adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals offers the opportunity for governments, institutions and organizations to examine more comprehensively the ways in which they formulate and implement policies across the board.

For its part, the European Commission has adopted its work program for 2016, with the clear statement that it is “no time for business as usual.” We will bring forward an initiative that will set out a new approach to ensure Europe’s economic growth and social and environmental sustainability beyond the 2020 timeframe, taking into account the Europe 2020 review and the internal and external implementation of the United Nations SDGs.

This is no small task, and it is one in which I will personally seek to ensure that PCD remains one of the guiding principles.

How can an intentional, integrated approach to the design, delivery and evaluation of programs make an enduring difference in people’s lives? Devex, in partnership with FHI 360, aims to advance the global conversation on the promise offered by integrated development solutions through #IntegratedDev. Visit the campaign site and join the conversation using #IntegratedDev.

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About the author

  • Neven Mimica

    Neven Mimica, a Croatian politician and diplomat, is the EU commissioner for international cooperation and development. From 2008 to 2011 he was deputy speaker and chairman of the European Integration Committee in the Croatian Parliament. He was then appointed deputy prime minister responsible for internal, foreign and European policy and became Croatia’s first commissioner, in charge of consumer policy, in 2013. Mimica is married with two children.