No NGO Lawsuit on European External Action Service

President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and Justin Kilcullen, President of Concord. Photo by: European Union

Although some questions remain about the independence of the European commissioner for development, civil society groups are pleased with foreign policy reforms approved Monday and have abandoned plans to sue the European Union for subordinating international development to political and security concerns.

Non-governmental organizations plan to raise remaining concerns next week at a meeting with Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign affairs chief, according to Roeland Scholtalbers, media officer of CIDSE, an international network of Catholic development agencies. The event will feature members of Concord, the umbrella network of European development NGOs.

NGOs will base any further actions on the outcome of the meeting, Scholtalbers told Devex Wednesday (June 23).

Civil society representatives will urge Ashton to fully implement the political agreement reached in Madrid this week, and clearly define EAS chains of command and the role of the European commissioner for development. NGOs want assurance that the development commissioner will have authority over EU development policy and budgeting, Scholtalbers said.

Earlier this year, CIDSE, Concord, Aprodev and Eurostep threatened to sue the EU over plans to incorporate EU development policy in EAS, which they said at the time would be a breach of the Lisbon Treaty.

At a June 22 meeting by CIDSE, however, a decision was made to abandon plans for legal action, Scholtalbers said.

The decision came a day after members of the European Parliament approved an amended version of the EAS plan in Madrid, with language suggesting that development policy will remain independent of EU’s foreign policy.

The changes represent a “major gain” for European development NGOs, Scholtalbers told Devex.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.