The EU going into Busan

Development Policy,Inclusive Politics26 Nov 2011Justin Kilcullen

What should the European Union, the world’s biggest aid donor, aim to achieve at Busan?

For a start, political leadership would be in tune with the fact that the EU gives €53 billion a year in aid, around half the global total. In 2008 in Accra, the EU was in the driving seat. We believe the EU again has a positive role to play.

We’re not talking about taking control of the development agenda here. We’re talking about the EU living up to its more ambitious development commitments and showing a positive example to the world.

However, the EU’s common position for Busan established on 14 November, makes it clear that the EU is not showing political leadership. The position misses out on supporting new measures recognized for improving the impact of aid such as untying aid, local procurement and removing conditionality. These measures get aid funds to the local economy in developing countries and put them in the driving seat of their own development.

The common position lacks concrete proposals for action.

It is clear that this collective position has been held hostage by the questionable opposition of a number of member states. Austria and Portugal have questioned the need for greater transparency of aid, despite glaring weaknesses in current aid information systems. Germany and Italy have resisted calls to end the tying of aid to purchases of goods and services from the donor country, so that aid is better spent and more of it flows into the economies of recipient countries. France, meanwhile, is opposing stronger commitments on human rights in order to avoid upsetting China.

This is exactly what we don’t want to see. From the EU we need leadership for positive change.

European development NGOs represented by Concord from across all 27 EU member states believe that the EU urgently needs to increase its ambitions in proposing concrete time-bound action on aid effectiveness to be agreed at Busan.