Spain’s Cooperation Master Plan (2013-2016) marked by the crisis and a lack of ambition

Spain’s Cooperation Master Plan (2013-2016) is currently under discussion. In other words, it has been presented and a series of consultations have been announced where the associations concerned can make their views known. Nothing further. No substantive amendments are envisaged.

This Plan is being developed in parallel with decisions on cooperation within the EU.

Although only a few years ago, all the Spanish parties, including the current government, committed themselves, irrespective of the economic conditions, to a National Pact Against Poverty that established criteria in terms of aid and a corresponding timeframe, today there is no mention of these commitments nor have they been taken into account.

Spain’s Draft Plan is characterised by the crisis and a lack of ambition.

Not only has Spanish development aid fallen in line with GDP, it has fallen to 1981 levels. Following this decision, the first part of the Plan attempts to present Spain’s cooperation objectives in a coherent manner. It is elegant but contradictory to the measures that are currently being implemented in our country. It calls for the establishment of a cooperation policy where the “results” are directed towards the universalisation of (free) healthcare, education…

It demands that the gender impact of all actions be taken into consideration. It places emphasis on achieving food security, governance, engagement, accountability and reducing vulnerability risks whether in Countries, amongst indigenous peoples, specific groups etc. The more detail it supplies, the less probable it seems in the face of reductions in programmes, geographic areas and the loss of a whole range of people that have devoted themselves to working in cooperation and who on account of the crisis and the redirection of budgetary expenditure, are only being left with one alternative, unemployment.

This is the second part of the Master Plan. Budgetary reductions have forced the concentration of aid. Middle-income countries are no longer eligible for cooperation. Only 23 beneficiary countries or territories will be considered.

In accordance with a formal approach to efficiency, there has been a reduction in the number of sectors to be covered. The European Union, within the framework of its own cooperation policy has adopted the same approach; spatial downscaling, and governance by the country’s government and/or sector, leading to cooperation with specialised NGOs. Furthermore, as a logical conclusion of the ministerial action, it foresees closer links with Spanish business interests and the private sector becoming a development actor.

In summary, Spain’s Master Plan is restricted by a lack of budgetary will. They would like to introduce greater coherency and specialisation, coordination with other cooperation agencies and bodies and to launch actions to improve governance, promising increased engagement and accountability by “partner” recipients. Not a lot is said about engagement and co-decision making with civil society. These are elements that should always have been present but have delivered few visible results. There are no proposals about how to keep and promote a plethora of technicians and actors that have garnered a wealth of experience over many years. This experience could be thrown overboard.

Santiago González Vallejo, USO-SOTERMUN