US, EU Urged to Refocus Summits on Humanitarian, Development Aid

Children sitting beside a water tank installed with the help of the European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection department. The U.S. and the European Union should use their summit to put more emphasis on development aid and humanitarian assistance, according to Anthony Luzzatto Gardner, a former director for European affairs of the U.S. National Security Council. Photo by: Raphaël Brigandi / ECHO

Summits between the U.S. and the European Union should be redefined by putting more emphasis on development aid and humanitarian assistance, one expert suggests.

“The time has come either to cancel these summits or to redefine their purpose,” Anthony Luzzatto Gardner, a former director for European affairs of the U.S. National Security Council, writes in the European Voice. “They could still be useful if they were to focus exclusively on issues that clearly fall within the competence of the EU institutions (as opposed to the member states); require the involvement of a limited number of decision-makers; and can be meaningfully addressed in the short to medium term.”

Gardner, who is currently a managing partner at the U.K.-based Palamon Capital Partners, observes that previous EU-U.S. summits have traditionally produced vague commitments that have not yielded “enough practical results.”

The U.S. and EU, which are the world’s top donors, should use their summit to launch a plan to improve the coordination of foreign aid, Gardner argues.

“Such a plan should include an assessment of the benefits and practicality of each side taking the lead in countries and issues where it is uniquely experienced; of both using their collective leverage with aid recipients to ensure accountability; and of regular bilateral meetings to address policy differences,” he explains, adding that it should also seek to engage other donors and, commit the U.S. and EU to increasing multilateral aid and support regional integration initiatives in Africa.

About the author

  • 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.