New EU trade and development proposals attract criticisms

The European Union is seeking for ways to increase the impact of its development policy anew, a move that is, yet again, receiving flak from nongovernmental organizations.

On Friday (Jan. 27), the European Commission presented a range of proposals to boost the effectiveness of EU trade and development policy. These include looking beyond tariff reductions in free trade agreements, combining EU grants with loans or risk capital, allowing small export operators to enter the European Union, and providing developing countries assistance for them to meet international quality, labor and environmental standards.

The proposals aim to reinforce the trade capacities of developing countries. But to meet this goal, the EU said it needs to focus more on poor countries.

Andris Piebalgs, European commissioner for development, said this is to make sure the EU’s aid-for-trade policies are focused on those “most in need.” He also said tailor-made trade and development policies are needed to improve the “business environment.”

But like its “Agenda for Change” — which also called for refocusing of aid to poor countries to ensure greater impact  — the proposals are being questioned by NGOs.

In a statement sent to Devex, Concord Director Olivier Consolo said while focusing more aid on less developed countries is “needed” and “welcome,” great inequalities and increasing poverty levels remain in richer developing countries.

“The EU should not see the developing world as [Brazil, India, China and South Africa] vs the rest,” he said, adding that the European Union should specify which countries will lose out on support and show evidence the new policy will not affect their development negatively.

Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.