Seminar “The European future of development cooperation (2014-2020) - the European Parliament decides”

The Seminar took place in Aranjuez on the 2 and 3 December 2012.
Its objective was to hold discussions on the new Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) within the framework of the Union’s Cooperation policy.

This Instrument comes with an allocation, according to the European Commission’s Proposal of 23.3 thousand million euro for the period from 2014-2020 (on the basis of final agreement on the next multi-annual financial framework). This figure would be a substantial increase on the 16.9 thousand million allocated to this Instrument during the period 2007-2013. The new DCI claims to better coordinate the work of all the European donors, simplify processes, reduce the number of programmes and to be better adapted to the development strategies of the countries in question.

The key speakers at the seminar were the MEPs, Santiago Fisas (European People’s Party), Ricardo Cortés (European Socialists and Democrats) representing the European Parliament and Javier Raya representing the European Commission, DG Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid. Other participants included Jesús Manuel Gracia Aldaz, Secretary of State for International Cooperation and Latin America, approximately 150 people from various development cooperation agencies, students, USO-Sotermun and the Spanish employer’s organisation (CEOE).

Santiago Fisas and Ricardo Cortés agreed that the new DCI should not systematically exclude upper middle income countries from bilateral aid even though the principal indicator for measuring income is GDP. They put special emphasis on taking into account other indicators such as vulnerability and inequality when cataloguing the recipient countries for Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Furthermore, they proposed a phasing out of aid for countries that would definitively remain outside bilateral ODA, and not from one year to the next. Javier Raya of the European Commission pointed out that the exclusion from bilateral aid did not mean that these countries were being left to their own devices, they will continue to opt for “regional aid, as well as the investment funds in combination with financing and loans, and will continue to be beneficiaries of thematic programmes and the partnership instrument”. The proposal to institute a thematic programme on DCI exclusive to Africa was welcomed.

The main conclusions of this Seminar included, in addition to the non-exclusion a priori of middle income countries, the incorporation in development funding of a portion of the potential Financial Transaction Tax, with clear and direct monitoring, to see who and how this tax will be paid. And of course the EU fight against tax havens, tax evasion and fraud.

They disagreed with the EU policy coherence (trade, free trade agreements etc.) and asked that a condition be imposed for EU bilateral cooperation, requesting that the governments work to improve and ensure basic human rights, including labour rights.

They asked that the new DCI be a more flexible and effective tool; the creation of a contingency fund and establishing flexible procedures for its implementation.

Dialogue with civil society must be strengthened, the rule of law and good governance. Dialogue should be fostered with the recipient countries so that they can decide what their needs are and where they would like to invest the aid.

Finally, a reference was made to the China’s alleged cooperation and what values cooperation from the private sector should contain, noting the necessary improvement of the fiscal aspects, integration of good corporate governance, increasing the transparency of the management practices etc.

These conclusions will be given to the rapporteur of the EU’s draft report, Thijs Berman (Holland, PES).

Article by Santiago González Vallejo - USO-SOTERMUN