NGOs reaffirm concerns over new EU development agenda

By Ivy Mungcal

A proposal to change how the European Union allocates aid could potentially divert funds away from the world’s poorest people.

A number of nongovernmental organizations based in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific once again highlighted this concern as parliament members from the EU and ACP countries tackle development at their ongoing assembly in Denmark.

A proposal in the EU’s Agenda for Change to adopt new criteria for selecting aid recipient countries does not capture “what development should be about,” according to Lars Bosselmann of CBM International and a member of Concord, the largest network of EU-based development NGOs. Bosselman stressed during a debate on the sidelines of the parliamentarian assembly that development “should be about the poorest people wherever they live.”

The criteria proposed in the new agenda include country needs, local capacity and potential impact of EU aid. Concord first criticized these criteria, among other aspects of the agenda, when it was introduced in October 2011.

In Denmark, Concord and some NGOs from ACP countries also expressed fears the proposed changes would negatively affect the foundations of the Contonou Agreement — the guiding framework of EU-ACP cooperation.

The agenda was endorsed May 14 by the Council of the European Union, along with a new approach to budget support and the EU initiative to boost resilience to food crises in the Horn of Africa.

The 23rd ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly runs from May 28-30.


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