THE EUROPEAN UNION AS A GLOBAL PLAYER
IN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
SID Bonn and Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik Bonn, 14.9.2007
Jos J.A.M. van Gennip President SID Europe Programme and acting President SID International
1. Introduction 2. A new era 3. The European Consensus 4. Community Programmes 5. The next agenda 6. A small town in Germany
3 7 11 17 20 30
The relations between the protagonists of the European unification and the advocates of a stronger solidarity with the poorer nations and peoples of this world have neither always been harmonious nor mutually beneficial. Although from the start, in 1957 the Treaty of Rome, has already underscored the responsibility of Europe towards its former or then still colonies and at around the same time the call for an engagement towards world poverty became louder and stronger at the level of the UN, the constituencies for these two new important political projects seemed to drift apart. Christian Democrats, most liberal and some centre right parties became "the owners" of the European unification process, while centre left and most of the leftist parties became the advocates of a stronger solidarity with the poor and oppressed outside our continent. Indeed, there were a few prominent figures, who tried to bridge the two ideals of European reconciliation and of striving towards a just and equitable international society. Here in Bonn I may refer to the outstanding work of Dr. Uwe Holtz, who during decades promoted the concept of Europe as an indispensable tool for reaching substantial reduction of world poverty and more international justice. And the recognition of an ongoing responsibility towards former colonies was translated in the ACP-treaties. But in general the development constituencies and bureaucracies preferred a direct link between the national decision making and the multilateral institutions and not seldom have they demonstrated a dislike for the Brussels project. A train ticket from The Hague to Brussels for example seemed to be much more expensive than a flight to Washington or New York.
Pleas from the beginning of the eighties to coordinate, harmonise or even 'communautarise' the international assistance of the EC-members were in vain, and bilateralism or preference for a multilateral UN and later World Bank approach won the day. So the EC became just an additional donor, next to its members, and most of the time with a mutual overlap of activities and competences. Or worse: sometimes its programmes such as the food aid and humanitarian assistance became tools of rivalry in the hands of mostly low ranking national diplomats in the respective committees, as once Development Commissioner Cheysson complained to me. The Development Council itself was rather ineffective, unknown and in its composition asymmetric, given the different set up at the national administrations of the development responsibilities. Gradually "the Commission bashing" became fashionable for its slow procedures, low disbursements rates, misjudgements, whilst public opinion and certainly national parliamentarians could have been informed that it were not seldom interventions, control measures and specific interests on the level of the member states that had a paralysing effect on the EC policies. A culture of control got the upper hand above the much needed flexibility, responsiveness and operability, which is so for an effective development cooperation. However a worse element came on top of this all since 1989. The nineties were marked by a certain 'continentalisation' of the EU policies. The deepening and the enlargement of the EU became in the wake of the Maastricht Treaty and the fall of the Berlin Wall the two central concerns of our politicians and our public opinion. Understandable, given the new challenges and opportunities in that decade, but with a detrimental fall out for the programmes of international cooperation in particular and the outward looking attitude of Europe and the Europeans in general. It was the internal market, the implementation of the
Maastricht Treaty, notably with its consequences for budgetary reform on the national level and the introduction of the Euro, the Schengen Treaty and above all the accession process with its far, far-reaching consequences for Central and Western Europe and for the neighbours of the new upcoming Union: "ein Kontinent waechst zusammen" was the title of the intriguing book of Dirk Schuemer of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung to qualify the historic process of the healing of Europe, healing in the double sense. Symptomatic was the EU Summit in Essen, at the beginning of the nineties, where Jacques Delors managed to push through a mandate, that his European Commission could get a free pick in setting up a directorate general and funding for Central and Eastern Europe, partly at the costs of the quality and quantity of the own institutions and programmes for the South; and in general the development programmes outside the ACPcountries became nothing more than marginal. But it was not only understandable. The new inward looking trend in politics and public opinion seems to be only partly caused by an indispensable agenda of reform and enlargement; it reflects also a strong reaction and dislike of the overarching phenomenon of globalisation which was taking shape in about the same two decades as the transition process in Europe. Fear, dislike of a threatening outside world with its economic competition, its migrants, its changing balances of power and influence and a longing to a post war order, when everything seemed to be less complicated and more predictable seem to have become characteristics of important segments of the constituencies in the European countries. This trend, this aversion or even denial of the new realities is extremely dangerous at a moment, when the world as a whole is changing dramatically, at a moment when the features of a new global architecture are taking shape, determining if this world will be a safe, peaceful, sustainable, prosperous and by justice dominated planet or rather an
insecure and polluted one, characterised by deep rifts in income, by the rule of the powerful and by all life threatening possessions of weapons of mass destruction and "clashes of civilisations".
At the beginning of the previous decade there was a strong hope with some policy makers that the peace dividend could be utilised for a new global agenda of Europe, exactly for that perspective of a convivial world, but the internal agenda, the erosion of the traditional constituencies for international solidarity, whether it be the social democratic parties or the missionary traditions as embodied in Catholicism or Protestantism and the inclination to create "a fortress Europe" seemed to have turned the EU away from its intercontinental engagements. Their was aid fatigue: the development assistance of the Federal Republic of Germany halved in these fifteen years; and the defence budgets of nearly all European countries decreased even more. In the end it were the US who had to resolve even the crisis on the Balkans. In "the acquís communautaire" - the 1200 or so pages of prescriptions - to which the accession states had to comply before getting the desired membership of the EU, everything was mentioned from brand names of cheese to hygienic criteria, but the obligation of member states to fulfil the promises of a substantial increase in international solidarity was omitted.
It should last till the midst of this decade before the voices in Europe that our continent could not and should not escape its global responsibility. Also SID contributed to this awareness and it was more than symbolic that the conference of three years ago in The Hague about this theme was labelled as "Europe Commitment to the South: A New Era".
2. A new era
Indeed, in 2007 a detached, inward looking attitude of Europe and the Europeans is not any longer sustainable. Gradually an alternative current in the public mood is coming to the surface, still weak, still confined to circles of pioneers in politics, in the economy, in the civil society, academia and in the churches: the growing awareness that none of our bigger domestic problems is still solvable without taking into account their global dimension. Whether we speak about jobs and income, the scarcity of energy, the migration, the environment and climate change, new and old epidemics, the blurring of the borderline between private and state criminality, the homeland and international security.
To start with the economy: the enlargement of the last twenty five years has made Europe the biggest economic power in the world. As a trading bloc and the biggest investor in the world it can not maintain its prosperity in isolation but only in intense interdependence with the rest of the world. And vice versa: the prosperity of the rest of the world is strongly connected with its ties, interests and magnanimity of Europe. Then there is the gradual awareness that as a consequence of our economic potential, as well as the fact that other richer powers are forgetting their promises to contribute to the struggle against worldwide poverty, the combined contributions of the members of the EU and the Commission are becoming quickly by far the most important donor efforts in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. And if we should fail to deliver on these promises as well we are confronted with the certainty that these goals will certainly not be reached in time.
There is on top of that a growing irritation and a negative perception of the foreign affairs agenda of the US. It is understood by many as a neo-imperialistic ambition based on a unipolar hegemony and on mixing up of the security and the development agenda in a narrow militaristic approach of the war on terror. There is, even among many Europeans, a dislike of the imposition of the Pax Americana and certainly of a uniform American life style and culture. Irritation and frustration about the unwillingness of the US to really contribute to the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals, to the reform of the UN. The unwillingness to subscribe to internationally agreed treaties on the emissions of CO2, or the International Criminal Court, the priority for the own US sovereignty above everything else in the world. There are questions about the validity of the dominant socio-economic free market model, certainly in other places, and certainly when it is made conditional for developing countries and countries in transition from a state run system to a free market society. There are serious doubts in this respect about the Washington Consensus, also as a symptom of the overarching US influence and domination of the Bretton Woods Institutions. May I wonder at the very place where it has been conceived, whether after all there would be a German "Wirtschaftswunder" in the fifties and the sixties, if Prof. Ehrhard had followed the conditionalities of the Washington Consensus, with its free convertibility of the currency, its forced privatisation of basic industries, its interdiction of subventions for basic commodities and food, its sometimes strict price and distribution regulations. The FRG government has committed nearly every sin against what is now seen as the Gospel for development and growth. For example, the recent strong criticism by Easterly in his book "The white man's burden" is related exactly to the imposition of one socio-economic model as a conditionality on the governments and the peoples of the South, whilst not taking into account their own, home grown solutions, their own socio-
cultural traditions, as we have fostered in Europe our own Rhineland Model on the basis of our appreciations, values, traditions and specific circumstances. But even for those who believe in a strong Atlantic partnership there can be a division of tasks, in which indeed "the soft power" of Europe is indispensable in achieving world wide security, peace, pluriformity and the connection of civilisations. And this soft power precisely should be mobilised for combating poverty in the South and for fostering and compensating for sound environmental policies. Irritations, frustrations, differences of opinion, strong concerns: they all imply, at least, that Europe will shed off its indifference towards the rest of the world and plays its own role.
This irritation and this concern come at a time in which we can observe a rather sudden, but deep turn around in the analysis of the geo-political situation in our days. The euphoria of 1989 has disappeared at once. Power shifts and new scarcities, as is the title of the new SID series we would like to offer to the European SID chapters, are the new and unforeseen characteristics, with the emergence of countries like China, India and Brazil and with their worldwide ambitions. There is the incontestability of the evidence about the relationship between a growing number of natural disasters and the climate change and an irreversible trend for the worst in this respect; there is - against all expectations - a growing number of civil wars, slaughtering of own population by authoritarian regimes, even genocides - the term we thought could be skipped from our textbooks since the fall of the Nazi's and Stalinists - ; there is not the defeat but the emergence of terrorist groups and the seemingly powerlessness of their combatants to contain and defeat them; and there is maybe the most threatening phenomenon of the come back of the nuclear threat, now from the hands of rogue states or even criminal organisations.
It was Timothy Garton Ash who underscored the parallel between the current situation and the spring of 1914. For nearly two decades the industrialising world had gone through a period of unprecedented economic growth, political expansion and relative stability, at least in the Northern and Western hemisphere. And then suddenly the developments became uncontrollable through that strange combination of lack of understanding what the impact could be of the new technological breakthroughs for warfare and the laming of adequate political answers by the rigidity of alliances and vested interests. "Beyond euphoria" is probably the best qualification of the actual international political situation, together with our inability to grasp the real impact of a number of far reaching developments at the borders of our Western world.
All signals in the second half of this decade point into the same direction. One can be irritated, frustrated, scared, but the worst reaction to the reality of the ongoing and sometimes untamed and many times unjust globalisation process is one of building a fortress, of indifference, of just protest against an evil, unwanted outside world. And.... we have to change our priorities. We have to, and we are in a position to do so. Now that the accession process is practically completed and - above all - now that there is a real perspective for the so much needed and so long awaited internal reform of the political decision making of the EU. The election of Sarkozy and the conversion - at last of the Dutch politicians make the way open for these perspectives, but on the other hand give Europe back its mandate to act on the global scene! That could be the new era of European responsiveness. What we only need therefore is the willingness to take this mandate up, especially in dealing with the great global challenges, starting with combating world poverty and regulating the globalisation process.
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3. The European Consensus
Combating world poverty. Even when there was hardly any drive to formulate a common and much stronger European engagement there were voices, that at least the existing efforts of the member states of the Union and of the Commission should be coordinated, not overlap, not to be handled as if there was no European cooperation at all in this domain. So, in 2000 there was the so called Joint Declaration, which tried to restrict overlap, which stipulated the need for untying of aid, at least at the European level, and wanted to limit the bureaucratic burden, that was imposed on the recipient countries by the then some fifteen donors from the Union alone, each with its specific rules, accounting and procurement regime. And there was a beginning of some coordinated targeting. But the real preconditions for change came in 2004: a new European Parliament; a new Commission and with the accession a new European Union. In the new international security debate suddenly the notion of the importance of "soft power" came to the surface, it was however a US writer, Benjamin Rifkin, who gave the wake up call with his book about Europe as a social economic superpower, that could really make the difference in the world in areas such as combating poverty, reform of the UN and stability. In September that year SID Europe organised a well attended and thoroughly prepared conference with a number of politicians, policy makers, academics and representatives of the broader civil society1: This conference "Europe and the South: A new Era" broke deliberately with the usual "Commission bashing" trend and tried to formulate some criteria for a new coordinated
In anticipation of this conference SID Netherlands had set up a European Programme, together with EADI, the European Association of Academic Development and Training Institutes, and had organised a few preparatory conferences and meetings, especially focussed on the New Member States or then still Accession Countries to compensate a little bit the omission of development policies in "the acquís communautaire". The finances for this programme came mainly from the Dutch Postcode Lottery!
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and even common European approach and above all underscored the ultimate responsibility and need for concrete programmes of the Union towards the urgent global problems, notably as embodied in the Millennium Declaration. The conference ended with a number of detailed recommendations for this new common approach2.
A few weeks after this conference a new Commissioner, Louis Michel, the former minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium took the office of the Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid. In an unusual open and visionary approach he immediately took the responsibility for a broad consultation with the potential stakeholders and interested partners in a common European approach. The first year in office was used for this consultation and for the formulation and negotiation of this concept, whilst at the same time a number of immediate responses to international crises were needed, a reform of the institutional set up was implemented and a modus vivendi had to be reached for the division of competences, which made the Commissioner for External Affairs the ultimate responsible for financial policy decisions on development issues for which the Development Commissioner had to bear the political responsibility!
Notwithstanding all these complications the Commissioner managed to come up in 2005 with a strategy that has the potential of becoming an unprecedented break through in achieving not only a common approach, but also setting a time table for reaching targeted quantities (till 2013) and to include new member states, who had either no tradition (except for some comrade-style projects from the Cold War era) or affinity with a concept they perceived as something belonging to wealthy social democratic mostly Nordic countries.
For the recommendations of this conference see www.sid-europe.org
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Key to this concept was abandoning of the idea of 'communautarization' of the development cooperation, or in other words the transfer of funds and competences to the European Commission. Instead: division of labour, specialisation, giving ownership to the receiving countries and placing there the ultimate responsibility, and making maximum use of the expertise and ambitions of all the member states, and this all in the framework of commonly agreed policy priorities. And thus: three partners had to be involved: not only the Commission, but also the Council - not just for approving, but much more for really involving the member states, and the European Parliament. Therefore this strategy was put down in a document called "The European Consensus on Development"! Not imposing, not monopolising, but on the basis of a full consensus and engagement this new approach could become a success.
Maybe the authors of the document and the inventors of the brand name had also something else in mind: European Consensus as opposed or at least added to the Washington Consensus. After all the history of Europe of combating its own poverty and getting at - yes - a strong market economy was characterised by policies which are sometimes at odds or at least on the brink of the parameters of the Washington Consensus. Here an own "European Consensus" could be exactly the answer to the criticism of someone like Easterly in his " White Man's Burden", who denounces the shortcomings of a top down planning blue print and the imposition of a Thatcherite free market approach alike.
The European Consensus has been followed by more policy documents and statements, such as the one on the EU-Africa Strategy and a paper on implementation of the new policy intentions. And in 2007 an important and far reaching first ever European Report
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on Policy Coherence for Development in the broad sense will underscore that European development cooperation is more than aid and assistance; it could and should be combined with that earlier observation that the biggest economic power in the world has much of the reigns in its hands for stimulating a world economy and even a social order in which fair chances are offered to the weaker participants in the globalisation process.
However, in the official explanation, Consensus stands for three defining C's: notably Coherence, Coordination and Complementarity.
Coherence: This refers in this specific document for coherence of the development assistance measures, of the Member States and of the Commission. It is no secret, that often there is a lack of a coherent vision and even programmes are financed and advised which could have a mutually frustrating effect. Take for example food aid and programmes for fostering local food production (there are formulas in which they can be compatible and mutually even reinforcing, but most of the time they are at odds). In a later document the Commission will deal with the normal concept of coherence in the sense of conflicting broader policies of donor coordination (e.g. trade and aid policies), but here one is dealing especially with enabling and compensating measures in the perspective of the DOHA Round, in the hope and expectation that this Round will be "a truly development round" in the interest first and foremost of the developing countries. The Commission sees here a pivotal role, especially for its own programmes.
Coordination: Here seen as a real alternative to the rejected communautarization of the development assistance. It should start with harmonisation, and indeed in the meantime the Commission has played a very positive role in promoting and concluding the Paris
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Declaration (2005). On the basis of this declaration the major multilateral and bilateral donors promised to underscore the coordination role first of all of the recipient country itself and the subsequent need of streamlining procedures, procurements, and conditionalities. A second measure in this respect is the efforts to get at common strategic policies about what to pursue, to achieve, where to intervene, which models to use. Promoting best practices is thereby an important tool, leaving the ultimate responsibility and the ownership with the receiving countries. And as far as the real coordination on donor side is concerned the Commission at least sees for herself much more a role in the area of facilitating and harmonising than just assuming the role of the coordinator. And that implies leaving room or even stimulating roles for other players. But in general the coordination aspect can be put in a completely different light, when we take leave from the traditional donor-recipient relation, in which the donor has its own priorities and above all its own programmes. There is a sometimes still hidden ambition in the document to foster and give priority to a new kind of partnership which reduces the role of donors to finance overall budgets or sectors of those countries, who have there own house in order and who have the internal, democratically driven, accounting and reporting mechanisms to the own population and their elected representatives. Too often the role of donors in the driving seat of developmental processes has brought about as a side effect that the normal controlling mechanisms of a given country, such as parliaments for example, considered grants from abroad not as accountable to them but to the donors. If we could get at a new relationship in which assistance is not longer focussed on projects or programmes but on good governance together with common shared multi annual
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objectives and if our partners can count on our multi annual commitments, than the whole problem of coordination could be defined in a completely different manner.
Complementarity: Here we touch on the most ambitious aspect, apart from the quantitative targets. The ambition first of all that there should be a balance between a common funding of overall budgets and sectoral programmes of partner countries and a specific role of the individual members states vis-à-vis well know partners or sectors, and that not only on their own behalf but as much as possible of the EU as a whole. And the second aspect is that at last we should get rid of the curious situation that the development programmes of the Commission overlapped those of the member states and vice versa. The Commission as the 28th donor. So in the European Consensus an effort was made to indicate what kind of priority areas the specific Community Programmes should cover. Three "C"s and one Q, that of Quantity - 200 billion Euro in the coming five to seven years - indeed will establish the EU as the real soft power of the world.
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4. Community Programmes
Other formulas of complementarity would have been possible. I mentioned already the model of complete or nearly complete communaurization of the development assistance, so in other words to tax the member states for 0.7 % of GDP and to put these in one big European pool, as if in the area of international cooperation the Union, like in that of the Common Agricultural Policy was already a real federal nation. But the voluntary character of the pledges to development assistance together with the reputation of the Community Programmes and policies made that impossible. The quality of a number of development administrations like DFID in the UK, the legitimate national interest of the member states and above all the need for a certain degree of visibility and a linkage between national constituencies and their development efforts made this formula also undesirable.
The other formula could have been exactly the other way around: a system of European co-financing. In the so called the Community Cohesion Programmes, - development assistance if you want to the poorer regions within the EU - the Commission is already working on the basis of a co-financing scheme, in which the Commission sets a premium on the own contribution of the member state. This could have been worked out as well, and it would probably have been an enormous stimulus for raising the own efforts on this area of the members. But it would also create an intolerable bureaucracy for approving the projects and interference in what is perceived as own, national autonomy. Voices are also raised in favour of the creation of an own European Development Bank, probably in connection with the EIB, which would permit combinations of transfers, cofinancing and premiums. But maybe it is premature in this stage to experiment or to fantasise with such, albeit promising, formulas.
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So, the European Consensus came to a blue print of a combination of own programmes of the Community and forms of specialisation by the member states. Much has to be worked out still in this area, but the features of the own priorities of the Community programmes are becoming clear.
As far as countries are concerned: there are of course the large finances in favour of the ACP-countries under the Lome Treaties. But in the "free" programmes there is a special place for the South Mediterranean and the neighbourhood countries of the Union. That has burdened the Commission with the charge of a preference for middle income countries at the expense of the poorest. But I think this is not fair. If it is true that in the Maghreb and the other Mediterranean countries five million youngsters are coming each year on the labour market seeking a job, then it is in their and in our interest that this region becomes a zone of perspective, employment and real development. And if other donors abstain from engagements over there, than one has to accept this as a rational consequence of complementarity and specialisation.
As far as priority areas are concerned the Commission came on the basis of sheer critical mass and above all its scope and analysis of urgencies and bottle necks to the following priorities: environment; rural development; water; promotion of democracy; good governance.
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And given the actual developments in the world trade system and given the actuality of the political debate in Europe in the process of deliberations and negotiations four other areas of engagement were added: commerce; fishery; agriculture; migration.
These are undoubtedly strategic areas which could enable a number of countries also to make use of the chances of globalisation or to let them compensate for certain nocuous effects of it.
Traditionally one other area had to complement this already abundant list: the big infrastructural projects from roads to energy centrals. But if this was not enough under the pressure mostly of the European Parliament health and education were added. One might wonder if such a move was not in itself an erosion of the very principle of complementarity, but the pressure especially from a number of representatives of countries that do not have extensive national programmes was too big.
In an implementation paper about the division of labour the Commission has come later with a much needed code of conduct, especially about what donors should not do, towards recipients and in their mutual relationship. And there has been an indication of the development of a system of the foreseen specialisation amongst the EU-members: lead agents and their needed expertise for (parts of) special programmes, sectors and countries. Here still a lot has to be done and it will not be easy.
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5. The next agenda
How patient is paper, especially an ambitious paper such as The European Consensus is? The ambitions are clear: in fulfilment they count for 80% of the worldwide increase in development assistance; they promise a quantum leap also in the quality, flexibility and relevance of development assistance and they make a maybe decisive effort to include the marginal nations of this world into the global economic and social integration.
But "hold the applause" said a recent CONCORD report, because between policy intentions and reality there can be an ocean of frustrations. And there are quite a number of signs, that the promises are already under pressure: financial pressure by not complying to the agreed timetable of increases in national budgets; institutional pressures of not adapting to reforms which are needed; and above all a sceptical public opinion, which either does not believe in the role and effectiveness of development assistance or is kept hostage in homeland problems and challenges. The next phase is therefore maybe even more important than the first, conceptual one. Will this paper be shelved at the enormous pile of unfulfilled promises or will we conclude in about ten years time, that the European Consensus was really the turning point in our relations with the South?
Therefore the work; the follow up agenda deserves all our attention, hence I am so glad that SID Bonn and the Deutsches Institut fuer Entwicklungspolitik took this initiative. This follow up agenda consists of a number of items.
1) There is first and foremost the question how to foster public opinion and especially the parliaments of the member states, together with the European Parliament, to stick to the
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promises of their own governments. One can be more specific in this approach and parcel out the different categories of countries. - Extremely important is the position of the three big powers in Europe: if the EU will reach the 2013 goals depends in a decisive manner from Great Britain, Germany and France. Will they really reverse their frugal policies in this matter, as Great Britain has announced. Important here is the combination of the ambition of still playing an important role on the world scene with a broader responsibility for the well being of this world. - Then there is the question of the front runners: will Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland stay in that position or will they shrink, after so many decades of exceeding the 0.7%? Shrink under the aid fatigue and under the frustration of staying alone. Or will they get the companionship of others like Ireland, Luxembourg, maybe even Slovenia. Where will Belgium position itself? The central issues here are impact, quality, successes of the assistance and a rejuvenation of the constituency. - And what to do with the stragglers? Such as Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece. There are some positive signals like the new targets set by the Spanish government, but those nations which three, four decades ago were still on the verge of poverty and who got such massive subventions themselves from Europe should be aware that politics of responsibility and future orientation implies that it is now their turn to share part of their new prosperity with those in need. - Last but not least all the New Member States (NMS). In a number of them there is still deep poverty in their own societies and it will be an enormous challenge to convince politicians and citizens alike that elsewhere poverty is still deeper and above all that being part of the EU means also participating in its external responsibility. But here the European Consensus could give a helping hand. During our efforts to foster the participation of the NMS it became clear to the SID team concerned, that one takes up
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much more easily its obligations if more neighbourhood countries or programmes for which one has specific expertise are benefiting. Why not give a premium to the role of Lithuania vis-à-vis Belarus or for its programmes of transition from state to market economy?
2) A second much needed follow up point is the development of a strategy on how to channel the increasing flow of development assistance. Doubling of aid over the next five - six years needs new pre-conditions and probably new instruments. It would be ideal, as is mentioned above, if budget support would be feasible. But that demands a degree of planning, good governance, and accountability, which is quite rare. Where are indeed the parliaments who consider aid funding with the same strict controlling responsibilities, accuracies and alertness as "own" taxpayers money? Not to speak about working in failing or post conflict states. It is easy to predict that when the real stories of the incredible wasting and annihilation of funds and resources in Iraq come to the surface, what will be the reaction of the public in the US on the broader and necessary allocation of assistance in other conflict stricken areas. And will the rise of new donors like China, who do not care for certain for us vital conditionalities spoil the quality of all assistance?
3) This refers also to the need for a broad and deep going debate about the new realities, which make the differences with most of the characteristics which have determined the rich-poor relations in the past fifty years. What is needed is a policy debate about the consequences of these new scarcities in the form of energy, water, food and its subsequent power shifts. What is needed is a prolonged debate about the changes in the world map of poverty and richness. And certainly about the consequences of the climate change for the
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poorer countries. This must be translated into the reformulation of the triangle Europenew scarcities-adjustment of development priorities. The current SID series in the Netherlands on this theme should be "Europeanised" as a modest contribution to this so much needed new strategic thinking.
4) Not only in the domain of development assistance, but the consequences of the new realities, which characterise the totality of the rich-poor relationship should be translated in new policies. Coherence is the buzz-word in this respect, but I would like to add the term "nexus" as well. The new document of the Commission on Coherence is an important step in starting the discussion about the broad concept of coherence, not only in the traditional sense of coherence between development and trade policies, but also in a number of other areas such as migration, arms sales and granting new non-concessional credits. So many times I encountered the paradox, that donors came to debt cancellation and that on the basis of the just acquired new credit worthiness new loans were obtained or even offered, sometimes even by the same government, for huge infrastructural works or even the purchase of sophisticated weapon systems. The sale of a military air defence system to Tanzania by the United Kingdom, just after a debt cancellation by the same government, gave even the Vatican as a strong proponent for debt alleviation rise for a discrete but strong protest! The other side of coherence is meanwhile "the nexus". Development cooperation is not any longer an isolated or separate policy area. It is nowadays the nexus between development and security, and sustainability, and migration, and democracy, etc. that counts. The relationship between development and these other policy areas is not always easy to detect, but the discussion and further exposure could build and strengthen a new and indispensable pillar under the engagement for development of the EU.
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There is another aspect: the new realities as mentioned under the previous point could change the debate about what is coherent or not considerably. Some arguments for example which were valid ten years ago to attack the Common Agricultural Policies have become ineffective or even obsolete nowadays, now that surpluses and dumping are substituted by scarcities and high prices on the world market (think about dairy products). The worst service to genuine development policies is being ignorant about the new sometimes very complex trends and realities in world trade, agricultural production, financial engineering, etc.
5) A fifth point which deserves special attention and a Union wide debate is the question of whether there are specific common characteristics of the European approach in combating poverty and fostering the international rule of law, common characteristics and common interests. Reading Mallaby's book "The Worlds Banker" on the former World Bank President Wolfensohn one discovers how many times and how intensive the World Bank is used for the interests and ideas of the US Treasury and for the political agenda of the US in general. The preference of so many Member Sates of doing direct business with the Bretton Woods Institutions without a stronger European coordination, let alone strategy, could weaken not only Europe's own interests, but also our vision and perception of what a good development approach is. But that means first of all not just complaining about US interests, but developing and deepening one's own visions and concepts. There is one domain in which this is already very urgent: the declared priority of programmes fostering democracy. Is there an own, specific vision of the way we try to strengthen democracy in "normal" countries, or after the fall of an authoritarian regime, or where democracy and human rights are under severe risk and pressure? This was the
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theme of a special conference in The Hague a few years ago with contributions from amongst others Dahrendorf and Madeleine Albright. The conclusion was that there was an urgent need for a distinct European approach. But much conceptual work and translating in concrete programmes have to be done. More important even is the point made earlier about the need for pluriformity in dealing with the free market concept. What are European lessons and what are elements of the Rhineland model that may be relevant in some way for the developing countries, taking into account that it is exactly a characteristic of this model that it is not exportable lock, stock and barrel? But elements are as a strong state, social consensus, basic social security. The whole idea of social security and social insurance is anyway one of the most neglected aspects of the development cooperation, at a moment when the extended family - until now the social security net - is about to lose importance and relevance. There is another aspect to which attention needs to be drawn if Europe is to make the needed difference: the intriguing, but rather unexploited relation economy-culturecommunity-religion-change. For Europeans on the one hand an understandable one with our own traditions of diversity and pluriformity and as heirs of social systems, which were strongly influenced by religious and ideological concepts and doctrines, but on the other hand a difficult one given the reality of an overwhelming adherence to religions in the South (Scott Thomas: The Resurgence of Religion) and the dominant secularist perception of politics and the public domain here. Probably one of the key challenges in dealing with the development challenge in other cultures. And as far as Germany is concerned your thinking about community and society, "Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft" could be a very relevant contribution in this debate.
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6) Finally: if we really want to make the European Consensus the turning point in the European approach of the development issue, than we should intensify our discussions, or better our decision making about the institutional and organisational set up of our international cooperation. That starts with the already mentioned remarkable situation of the relation between Aidco and DG DEV, an institutional set-up in which there is an unsustainable separation between policy planning and policy implementation, and that under separate competences. As far as the Commissioners are concerned he who pays does not have the ultimate responsibility. This should be corrected as soon as possible. In the meantime there should be recognition of the considerable progress which has been achieved after the institutional and procedural reforms in the previous years. Neither the European Consensus nor the obvious quality improvements could have been achieved without these reforms and without the ongoing engagement and patience of a number of policy makers. Then there is the question already touched upon in the previous paragraph: what do we entrust to the existing multilateral system, notably the Bretton Woods Institutions and the UN Channel, and under which conditions from our side. It would be contradictory to the expressed interest of Europe - and the world - to translate our criticism or lack of influence into policies of distance or even abandonment. The Union counts for the major part of the funding of these institutions and we should first and foremost coordinate our interests, positions and views towards these institutions. Just that asks for the development of a common European stand, not easily given the different starting points, but inevitable. A point of concern remains a number of procedures. Only partly the direct responsibility of the Commissioner, but also the result of a culture of control which has pervaded all Commission procedure and development assistance in general, also on the incitement of the Council. But the result is a limitation of an open, creative dialogue between society,
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engaged parties and the Commission. In certain circles a sentiment of alienation is discernable. I do not know if there is room for a new debate about the concept of tendering as the ultimate instrument in granting subventions and competition instead of coordination as the ultimate criterion. Anyway it has led to the dismantling of concentrated expertise and much needed cooperation in the field. (And so it became in a number of cases counterproductive: if one rejects cooperation mechanisms and "interlocuteurs uniques" here, then the result could easily be a strong increase in logistical costs in the field, because in hunger stricken areas the truck owners abuse their virtual monopoly position if there is no central price control and a ganging up of the different donors!) Also the rule that the Commission may not react any longer to own initiatives from within the development society, but that one has to wait for calls for proposals - so initiatives from the Commission only - narrows the creativity and the engagement of a much needed constituency. The efforts of SID to foster a parliamentarian caucus and to correct the nearly absolute absence of expertise about the new orientations of the Commission in broader circles of politicians, academics and representatives of the civil society are a clear example. They do not fit in a broader, albeit meagre programme of awareness building, and the earlier subventions were cut off with a reference to the new system of calls for proposals, which did not give room to this specialised approach. Only private subventions (Netherlands Postcode Lottery) could save than the programme, but only to the end of the year 2007! A very special proposal, which deserves the full attention of the Commission was made here in Bonn, at the EADI Conference of two years ago. It was an offer of the academic and research institutes to leave their ivory tower of distance and neglect of the day to day challenges of the implementation of the European development efforts and to act in an engaged way as the think tanks and policy advisors for the Commission and the EU, of
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course with mutual independence. "Where are your troops, Mr. Commissioner", asked eloquently as usual Simon Maxwell at that conference, and the answer was: "they are". The Commission and the EU could in that sense dispose of a unique network of research institutes and think tanks, not like the World Bank or the UN by setting up a new, centralised development bureaucracy, but by granting space to a European formula: making use on its own terms of the existing confederal and decentralised structure. Maybe it is useful that in this respect one should refer also to the initiative of Mr. Petit's Directorate at the Commission to come up with a yearly European Development Report3. Some member states are not too enthusiastic about the idea of yet another report, but I consider it as a very useful tool to demonstrate the importance, the dialogue and the new cooperative mechanisms of the European Consensus. It could also be a forum for deepening the point of the follow up agenda, which I have tried to describe here.
Mr. Petit can be considered as one of the architects of the new European policies in this respect.
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6. A small town in Germany
"Eine kleine Stadt in Deutschland", Bonn, after the title of John Carre's thriller. Not so small anymore and with the rather recent ambition to become an important player in the area of international cooperation. Indeed, here are mutual chances. As I have explained I am not a proponent of a centralised European development institute. But the order of the day is that development cooperation shakes off its rather marginal and isolated position. The "nexus-approach" and the recognition that extended and comprehensive European international cooperation could make the difference in this world should reposition and renew this dimension of external relations. It can profit strongly from a centre which is conducive to this goal. Culturally, academically, for the publicity and as far as policy development is concerned a geographic reference point as the embodiment of this new approach would be extremely helpful. It is - I am aware - dangerous to say so, because so many centres have the ambition to become the European centre for development, but there is place for many. However, if a federal government, a state government and the local one are really serious, to the extent that there is already impressive concentration of development institutes in this town with invitations to other ones, we should be serious and place that in the context of the broader European ambitions. That refers to the Commission, but also the academic world, the civil society, the policy makers. The need for a central place in the Union for encounters, reflection, conferences, exchanges in the area of international cooperation will become more and more visible. Bonn was once chosen as the capital because it had no pretension to push aside the big metropolises of Germany. Bonn could be a symbol again of the policy intentions of Europe, which are not - any longer - imperialistic, Europe-centred,
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however with plenty of space for a pluriformistic, authentic and ambitious attitude towards global poverty, sustainability and the international rule of law. I sincerely hope, that DEI and SID here will continue to play their role and to intensify it.
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