Development is at risk of becoming a “pawn” of the European Union’s security and foreign policy if plans to incorporate aid policy under the proposed External Action Service are pushed through, a group of Europe-based development non-governmental organizations said, according to EU Observer.
The NGOs charge that such a move “may be in breach of objectives and competencies” of the Lisbon Treaty.
European NGO alliances Concord, CIDSE, Aprodev and Eurostep are threatening legal actions against the EAS to prevent the proposed diplomatic corps from taking charge of Europe’s development policy. The four groups already sought advice from a U.K. law firm, White & Case.
The role of the proposed diplomatic corps is restricted to the bloc’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, which does not cover development cooperation, according to the legal analysis by White & Case. Development cooperation falls under the mandate of the European Commission, and any plans to change it would require an amendment to EU treaties, the analysis further indicates.
The NGOs, however, recognize that they are quite behind in raising this issue. As Devex reported, Ashton already reached a deal with EU foreign ministers regarding the structure of the EAS. The organizations said they will nevertheless tackle the issue at the member-state level and take it to the European Parliament, which also plays an key role in the EAS debate.