ERD must address the implications of population forecasts

Development Policy19 Jun 2008Francisco Granell

The Broker asked Francisco Granell to reflect on the following three questions concerning Europe’s role in international development.

1. Does Europe have a specific role to play in the world, with regard to poverty and inequality, environment and energy, global governance and security?

In the 1950s Germany, France and Italy were among the ten most populated countries in the world. In 2050 no single European country will be listed in that group of ten. Current projections suggest that India, China, USA, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, Bangladesh, Congo and Ethiopia would make up the list. This means that the only way in which Europe could be as a world player in the future is by acting together in defence of its common values and interests. Every single European country would simply be too small to be influential in world affairs.

2. As for the European Report on Development, what do you think should a) be the content/urgent themes of such a report, and b) be its approach? Given the existing annual publications like the World Development Report and the Human Development Report, what should the EDR do to distinguish itself and to prove its added value?

There are several international institutions dealing with the current topics in the development agenda. It seems to me that the European Report on Development must concentrate on future trends that would influence development perspectives. Developing countries represent 60% of the world population but that percentage will grow to 86% by 2050. In 30 years the urban population of developing nations – now about 2 billion people – will have doubled. The needs of an urban population are different than the needs of a rural population and the ERD must assess the need to change the ‘development concept’ as applied to an urban population, in line with population forecasts. The approach of the report must be multidisciplinary with specific focus on urbanization, regional issues and technology.

The best index that the EDR Report can offer to the world would be to increase the funds for development managed by European institutions, instead of increasing the money managed by the European bilateral aid agencies. Only with such central management of funds could the EU become the most important world donor.

3. Are the (im)possibilities of a European development agenda a subject of discussion in your country among academics, the government and/or civil society organizations? Is there a sense that Europe should take a more prominent role in advancing international development?

Even after the increase in funds promised by Spain to replenish the 10th EDF (European development fund), Spanish bilateral aid is much more important than the amount of Spanish taxpayers money given to the multilateral institutions or the EU. This fact, and the reality that there is no real tradition in Spain of having think tanks to deal with development matters, creates a situation in which the discussion concerning European Aid is only a topic when discussing Latin American countries. But we must remember that Latin American countries are not a priority for European aid but rather the least developed countries (LDC).


F. Granell: La cooperation au developpement de la Communauté Européenne, Brussels, Institut d’Etudes Européennes, Collection Commentaire J. Megret, 2005, 475 pages.
F. Granell: Can the Fifth Enlargement Weaken the EU Development Cooperation. In: J. Roy and R. Dominguez (eds): Towards the Completion of Europe, University of Miami, Miami-Florida European Union Center of Excellence, 2006, pp. 139-149.