Mimica says EU must do better on monitoring of development projects

Neven Mimica, European commissioner on international cooperation and development. Photo by: Ryan Brown / UN Women / CC BY-NC-ND

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Monitoring and evaluation of development assistance programs may have been “neglected” in the first years of the Sustainable Development Agenda, but they will be a greater focus area in the future, the European Commissioner on International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said.

In an interview with Devex at the European Development Days summit in Brussels, Mimica — the Croatian politician who has led development policy at the European Union since 2014 — said that monitoring, reviewing and accountability have “maybe been a bit neglected in the first few years or stages of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals ... because we and all the international community were very much engaged in setting the right agenda and setting the implementation modalities of this agenda.”

He added that accountability is an important element of those modalities and that “we shall be very clear and very much engaged in this” from now on.

Mimica insisted that the EU already has “very much in place the criteria and the methodology that prevents a misuse of development assistance.” He suggested that development cooperation programs typically perform better in the EU’s annual reviews than programs implemented internally within the European Union.

“The average error rate [where procedures have been followed incorrectly] is around 2 percent of our development envelopes,” he said. “But this is not satisfactory enough yet. Therefore, we shall work further on setting the right criteria in advance for disbursement of our projects; and criteria that are to be checked once the ... projects are disbursed.”

“Current criteria are there, but we have to really upgrade the overall focus of our services on this element of the implementation process of our development projects,” he added.

The EU’s new Consensus on Development — a development framework that was signed into force this week — is controversial among NGOs, in part because of its renewed emphasis on the role of the private sector in aid and on tackling migration. In both cases, some European NGOs believe there are insufficient safeguards in place to ensure the proper use of funds.

However, Mimica told Devex that there would be a greater focus on accountability under the new framework.

“Within the new agenda we make a shift from inputs to outputs; from counting money we put into the development cooperation to reviewing the results of development cooperation in each and every partner country. Therefore, this element of accountability will be more and more present and visible in our approach,” he said.

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About the author

  • Jessica abrahams

    Jessica Abrahams

    Jessica Abrahams is Devex's Associate Editor for Europe. Based in London, she was previously an editor at Prospect magazine and has written for publications including the Guardian, the Telegraph, Bloomberg News, and Germany's taz.die tageszeitung with a focus on global women's rights and social affairs. She holds graduate degrees in journalism from City University London and in international relations from Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals.