The Netherlands and European Development PolicySeptember 3, 2008 - nr.60
Conclusions and recommendations
The AIV has drawn a number of conclusions and recommendations from the descriptions and analyses in the previous chapters. In our opinion, they provide a good guide for defining the Netherlands’ position on European development policy. In the AIV’s view, the points listed below should be reflected in the policy as a whole.
Concerning the functioning and policy of the European Union
There is a tendency to oppose national development policy to that of the European Union. However, this overlooks the fact that the Netherlands and the other EU member states also have a role in the Commission’s implementation of European development policy, as well as in determining that policy. Development cooperation is a shared competence. In other words, a common policy exists, but this may not prevent the member states from exercising their own competence relating to development cooperation. Indeed, the development policies of the EU and its member states must complement and reinforce each other, and coordination between them should enhance the effectiveness of policy as a whole. An obligation also exists to work towards policy coherence. It should therefore be impossible for differences of opinion to arise between the member states and the Commission (as the executive body of the EU) concerning the substance and implementation of the EU’s common policy. In practice, however, such a situation could arise if a member state wished to opt out of a common policy agreed by majority vote.
The European Union’s international political weight in the field of development has increased, and the European institutions have managed to bring this weight to bear in the UN debate on increasing development aid (Monterrey), the drafting of the MDGs and more recently on the G8’s decision to substantially increase ODA, in particular doubling its aid to Sub-Saharan Africa by 2010, and provide debt relief.
- The AIV therefore recommends, as proposed in the 2007 OECD DAC Peer Review of the European Community, that the common strategy in the Consensus be elaborated in the form of a number of operational strategies, so that the EU speaks with one voice and thus more authoritatively on specific policy areas and themes.
- In line with previous advisory reports, the AIV advises the government to continually highlight and explain to the public the advantages and added value of the European Union.
Concerning the implications for the Netherlands of the recent strengthening and configuration of EU development policy
It remains to be seen in practice to what extent, after the enlargement of the EU, the recent strengthening and reforms of EU development policy, including the increase in the number of member states, the creation of the Consensus and Code of Conduct, administrative reforms in the European Commission, the regrouping of the EU’s financial instruments, the devolution policy and the qualitative improvements to the Commission’s monitoring and evaluation policy will lead to greater effectiveness. It ishowever clear that these developments have consequences.
Studies show that there has clearly been some improvement in the aid delivery process in recent years. The AIV would concur that, over the past five years, the EU has made progress in various areas, including poverty reduction, effectiveness and delegation to the field. However, EU development policy can and must improve in a number of respects.
The EU is also clearly functioning better in terms of PCD. Promotion of PCD is not an issue between the member states and the EU, but within the member states themselves and within the EU. In the view of the AIV, achieving greater and better PCD will be a major factor in achieving a more effective development policy.
The AIV believes that, within the framework of the system of shared competences and coordination between the EU and the member states set out in the Reform Treaty, the Code of Conduct provides scope for a better division of labour, and thus greater complementarity and lower transaction costs for aid. Serious efforts in this respect could lead to more rapid growth and poverty reduction in the partner countries.
In the AIV’s view, conditionality is a must for EU development policy. After all, the wording of the general objective of the EU’s External Action strongly emphasises and expresses a firm resolution to advance in the wider world the principles that have inspired the EU’s own creation, development and enlargement. As this formulation applies to development cooperation as well, these principles may not be overlooked in the EU’s development relations with its partner countries. However, one must take account of the fact that the nature of the conditionality will determine the potential for success. Caution should be exercised on the matter of policy conditionality, but conditionality with regard to good governance is appropriate in a mature, businesslike relationship.
- The Netherlands should continue to press strongly for further improvements to EU development policy.
- Even though the European Union has added value over the individual member states in certain areas, the member states will want to, and should, continue to play a role. The AIV therefore recommends that the Netherlands determine its position concerning the complementary role of the EU in areas which the Netherlands prioritises in its bilateral policy.
- To promote political debate on the choices underlying and results of development policy in the Netherlands and in the partner countries, the AIV believes that action at EU level would certainly help provide a more comprehensive picture of the political background. Coordinated action by the EU in a partner country could lead to better and more broadly supported political analysis, which could increase the effectiveness of cooperation, particularly budget support. Such action would also help deepen the political debate in the Netherlands and enhance support for the aid effort. The Cotonou Agreement currently provides a specific framework for general political dialogue. However, the opportunities available in this framework should be exploited more intensively, in more countries and in a more integrated way.
The AIV understands that, for political reasons, the Minister wants to be able to act in countries and situations where this would not be possible if the risks were taken into account in the normal way. In our view, the key to this is not to make analysis and assessment less relevant, but in fact explicitly to take account of heightened risks and adapt the criteria for the impact of development interventions accordingly.
Concerning donor coordination, the role of the Commission and the EU’s share of aid
The Consensus can best be regarded as a framework that indicates the tasks for EU development cooperation. The Code of Conduct is a collection of objectives and guidelines for implementing the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, where possible in close collaboration with other donors on the ground.
The AIV believes that, where possible and beneficial to the general coordination between all donors and players envisaged in the Paris Declaration, the Netherlands should make the best possible use of the EU as a specific forum for mutual coordination. The key reason for this is that development cooperation could be rendered much more effective if the number of donors involved in the same type of activity in the same country were to be reduced, which would also reduce transaction costs.
Division of labour is not merely a technical operation designed to maximise the effectiveness of aid. Individual countries have difficulty conforming to a wider coordinated effort mainly because development cooperation is a political process. The choice of countries and sectors has political connotations, in view of the foreign policy and economic interests at stake. Those interests exist not only in donor countries but also in partner countries, and often dominate negotiations.
Closer EU cooperation on development would undoubtedly present opportunities to give the dialogue with partner countries more political substance.
The AIV regards it as important for the Netherlands to press in the longer term, and as far as possible in coalition with other member states, (the Nordic states and preferably others too), for the agreements laid down in the European Consensus and the Code of Conduct, and anything else that would appear to be beneficial to the EU, to be implemented, and to lead by example.
In the AIV’s view, the Commission should not automatically take on the role of lead donor in more developing countries. It should however act as lead donor in areas where it has exclusive competence, such as international trade. The AIV recommends a pragmatic approach in other areas. The most important thing is to arrive at a provisional division of labour as quickly as possible, without jeopardising the quality of the lead donor. Both the Commission and the member states will have to be convinced that they must exercise self-restraint, in order to reach agreement. The preferences of partner countries must be taken fully into account.
The AIV recommends that the Netherlands eventually raise the proportion of aid to be channelled via the EU if this is expected to produce positive results in its partner countries. This would also increase the EU’s international weight in the field of development which is another argument. Under the Financial Perspectives 2006-2013, however, it will not be possible to raise spending via the EU until 2013. Cofinancing would however be a possibility, albeit limited. Such an increase would of course depend on the member states’ expectations as to whether such a move would help improve matters in their partner countries.
The above factors will undoubtedly have implications for the organisation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The work associated with bilateral activities is likely to decrease, while work involving Brussels will increase. The organisation of development cooperation within the Ministry will have to be adjusted accordingly if the Netherlands is to retain its influence.
- The AIV concludes that, as more aid is channelled through the EU, this will impact on policymaking at Union level, on policy implementation and on the concentration of activities with the Commission and in partner countries. In our view, therefore, the Netherlands must analyse the implications in good time in order to anticipate the consequences for the knowledge and expertise required in the civil service, the focus of the Netherlands’ own activities and the implementation capacity this focus will require.
Concerning the EU, security and development
The AIV believes that security and development cooperation are becoming ever more closely meshed as a result of radical changes in the field of security. New threats such as terrorism, organised crime, illegal immigration and drugs trafficking have blurred the boundary between internal and external security.
For a successful policy on fragile and failing states, long-term coalitions are needed as part of an integrated approach, to work with the other states in the same region as the failing states. The Netherlands can help shape proposals and contribute to their successful implementation only as part of a strong coalition. The most obvious forum for promoting such a policy is the EU. However, NATO has the necessary military capacity and remains the most suitable organisation to undertake major operations involving combat units. The AIV therefore views the EU’s capacities in this area in conjunction with those of other willing parties and players, such as NATO, and certainly those of the UN, whose mandate is indeed required to legitimate operations in serious situations.
The AIV’s assessment as to whether the Netherlands should explicitly opt for the European Union as a priority forum for activities in the closely related areas of development and security is not, therefore, unequivocal. Provided donor coordination is stepped up and there is policy integration between the EU pillars, the EU has at its disposal a range of instruments found in no other context. However, the AIV would at the same time underline that this does not necessarily mean that the EU is the most appropriate forum in all places and in all cases for activities in the field of conflict prevention, crisis management, peacebuilding and reconstruction. Depending on the circumstances, the UN and NATO might also be suitable parties. This position means that no major changes are needed to current Dutch bilateral policy, which should retain its diverse character.
Since it appears likely that the EU Reform Treaty will be ratified sometime this year, the prospects of a more coherent EU policy on activities associated with development and security have improved. The AIV expects that the EU’s new architecture provided for by the Reform Treaty will make it better able to pursue a coherent policy on developing countries, and to carry more weight, particularly in the policy dialogue, as provided for under the Cotonou Agreement and carried on in other frameworks as well.
With its three pillars and financial instruments, the European Union, more than any other international organisation, potentially has the right combination of resources to link security and development. The AIV would emphasise the need for better coordination between the pillars. Structural policy integration will be possible when, after ratification of the Reform Treaty, the posts of High Representative and Vice-President/Commissioner for External Relations are combined.
The AIV believes that specific political attention must be focused on devising an EU policy and instruments for fragile situations in developing countries as a matter of great importance and urgency, and therefore calls for the Netherlands to actively support the process.
Finally, the AIV recommends that the financial implications of a coherent policy in the framework of an integrated approach be considered. In this context, it refers to its recent advisory report on The Finances of the European Union, particularly recommendation 13, which advises that increasing non-ODA funding for external policy be regarded as a priority. Pending the fundamental reform of EU finances that this would necessitate, the AIV calls upon the Netherlands, together with the UK, to encourage other member states who are in a position to do so to follow their example and establish funds similar to the Stability Fund and its British counterparts in order to generate the necessary financial resources for such a policy in the shortterm.
Mr F. Korthals Altes
Chairman of the Advisory Council on
P.O. Box 20061
2500 EB The Hague
Date 11 June 2007
Re Request for advice on EU development policy
Dear Mr Korthals Altes,
I would like to consult you on the subject of EU development policy. I would appreciate the advice of the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) on the potential implications for the Netherlands of the recent developments in EU development policy.
In recent years, the member states and the Commission have worked successfully on the formulation of a substantial EU development policy. The first step was in 2005, when the member states agreed on a phased increase in the EU aid budget to at least 0.7% of GNP by 2015. Collectively, the EU was already the biggest donor and this position will only be strengthened by this policy. Over the next few years, EU aid will increase by €8 to 10 billion per year, from €48 billion in 2006 to around €79 billion in 2010.
The next important step was the establishment of the European Consensus on Development in November 2005. This was the first joint framework for the development policy of both the member states and the Commission. The European Consensus also reflects the agenda of the like-minded donors who supported the establishment of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, under the auspices of the OECD/DAC. Since May 2007, the EU has had its own Code of Conduct for implementing the Paris Agenda; the Code provides for the division of tasks and complementarity between donors in recipient countries.
The quality of the Commission’s development aid has improved considerably in recent years, resulting in the reduction of expenditure backlogs through faster disbursement combined with reduced pro rata labour inputs. From 2007, cofinancing has become available for member states. For the sake of clarity, it should be mentioned that the current European development agenda is not about shifting competences to Brussels, but is first and foremost about increasing the collaboration among the member states and between the member states and the Community.
Over the past decade, the EU has developed into a major player at the interface between development and security policy. The Union currently has at its disposal a wide range of instruments for conflict prevention, crisis management, peacebuilding and reconstruction. Examples include the Instrument for Stability, the African Peace Facility and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).
Nevertheless, until a few years ago there was widespread scepticism, including in the Netherlands, about EU development policy. The Commission was seen as a fairly ineffective 16th donor without particular added value. The developments of the last few years have led to a rethink regarding collaboration on development issues in the context of the EU. There is now more recognition of the potential value of the EU context for Dutch efforts in the field of development cooperation. The Netherlands has also actively contributed to the above-mentioned developments at EU level, for example through its presidency in 2004. In political terms, there is generally widespread support for this agenda, as reflected in the at times intense discussions about it in both houses of parliament. At the same time, there are questions about the consequences of these developments.
It is against this background that the government requests the AIV to explore the possible implications of these developments for Dutch policy on development cooperation.
Questions to the AIV
The main question which the government would like to be addressed, is:
What are the possible consequences for the Netherlands of the recent strengthening and configuration of EU development policy? How can the Netherlands make effective use of EU development policy in implementing Dutch development cooperation policy? In which content areas does the Union have added value for the Netherlands? How much potential is there for a more political approach to development cooperation in the context of the EU?
There are subsidiary questions on the following points:
- To what extent can the Netherlands make use of the EU as a forum for donor coordination and cooperation with respect to development policy, now that the EU’s European Consensus provides a good framework for the development cooperation policy of member states and the Commission, and the EU Code of Conduct gives new impetus to the division of tasks among EU donors in line with the Paris Agenda? Is there enough political support among the other 26 member states for the implementation of the relevant agreements? Does closer EU collaboration in the field of development cooperation offer potential for using the dialogue with partner countries more politically?
Partly because of the agreements to increase the member states’ aid budgets to 0.7% of GNP by 2015, the EU would now be particularly well placed to establish an effective and influential development cooperation policy internationally. Should the Netherlands recognise this potential added value of EU collaboration and pay special attention over the next few years to further reinforcement of EU development cooperation policy?
In practice, will the European Consensus have enough political support within the EU, in member states, including large ones and new ones, as well as in the Commission? What are the expectations for the implementation of the EU Code of Conduct on Complementarity and Division of Labour in Development Policy? Will it determine the direction taken by EU donors and really lead to a significant improvement in the effectiveness of their aid? What consequences should the Netherlands attach to this? Does closer EU collaboration in the field of development cooperation provide scope for using the dialogue with partner countries for more political purposes, for example in the fields of good governance, corruption, gender and fragile states?
In what fields should closer collaboration in the framework of the EU be implemented first? How and to what extent can the Netherlands make use of this for Dutch bilateral aid? And how can the EU make use of the Netherlands?
Does the EU framework provide a sound basis for involving non-like-minded countries in the Paris Agenda? Or is the broader OECD/DAC framework more appropriate for this? Is a specifically EU harmonisation process desirable in view of the fact that there are also other donors involved in developing countries, and that the harmonisation processes are relevant to all donors (including the World Bank and UN organisations)?
- What should be the long-term consequences of the European Consensus and the EU Code of Conduct for the Commission’s efforts? Should the Commission take on the role of lead donor in more developing countries? Are there sectors in which this would be an appropriate ambition and sectors in which it would be inappropriate?
The Commission is the only European player that is present in all the developing countries. Unlike many of the member states, the Commission is often seen as a neutral player without a colonial past. The quality of the assistance seems to be steadily improving and the Commission is one of the leaders in the implementation of the Paris Agenda. A leading role for the Commission could be cost-effective. In sectors such as infrastructure, transport, regional collaboration and trade, the Commission could be the natural lead donor.
At the same time the Commission has come in for some criticism for its ambition to be in some way actively involved in almost every sector: following opposition by the Commission, partly inspired by the position taken by the European Parliament, the European Consensus imposes hardly any constraints on the Commission. Yet in the discussion about the Code of Conduct, the Commission has come out clearly in support of limiting the number of sectors in which EU donors (including the Commission) are active in each partner country. Are there particular sectors that the Commission should concentrate on? In which sectors is the Commission’s added value the greatest?
- Should the Netherlands aim to achieve a gradual increase in the proportion of development aid channelled through the Community? If so, what are the implications of this for the choices to be made with regard to policy, the internal organisation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or other issues?
Although the total Official Development Assistance of the member states will rise sharply in the next few years, the relative share of the Community/Commission in EU aid will go down considerably under current policy, since the increase to 0.7% only applies to member states. The question is whether this is desirable and effective. The quality of EC aid (via EuropeAid) has improved over the past few years and the Commission can be considered capable of running a larger aid programme satisfactorily. Is it desirable for the Commission to become a steadily smaller donor, in the light of the likelihood that (given the current outlook regarding accession) the number of member states will increase further?
Under the current Financial Perspectives, the main elements of ODA spending at EC level have been laid down for the period until 2013. However, in the 2008 review of the Financial Perspectives, the member states could decide to increase their ODA contributions for the period 2013-2020. Member states could also make use of the new possibilities for cofinancing with the Commission.1
- Should the EU be a priority forum for activities on the interface between development and security, i.e. in the fields of conflict prevention, crisis management, peacebuilding and reconstruction?
The EU seems to have built up a comparative advantage in this area. It is the largest donor supporting the African Union’s AMIS operation in Sudan via the African Peace Facility. Two military peace operations have already been conducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In recent years the EU has also conducted at least ten civilian missions on Police and Rule of Law in various developing countries. Furthermore, the EU supports the Security Sector Reform process in the Democratic Republic of Congo with a special mission. Under the new Financial Perspectives, a separate Instrument for Stability has been established on the basis of article 179 of the EC treaty (i.e. on a development law basis). The EU deploys special representatives under the CFSP for conflict prevention, management and resolution (for example in the Great Lakes region and in Sudan). Support to fragile states is central to EU Africa policy.
Should the Netherlands explicitly opt for the European Union as a priority forum in this field? Would this have consequences for the Netherlands’ own bilateral policy in this area? How can policy coherence be improved, both among the EU pillars and in terms of EU and national efforts, e.g. in relation to fragile states?
I look forward to receiving your report as soon as possible.
Minister for Development Cooperation
1 In 2006, the Netherlands paid out a little under 8% of the ODA through the European Commission: €140 million European Development Fund and €205 million EU attribution = €345 million out of a total of €4,487 million.
Chairman of the Advisory Council on
2500 EB Den Haag
Date 11 August 2008
Re Response to the AIV advisory report ‘The Netherlands and European Development Policy’
Dear Mr Korthals Altes,
Thank you for the advisory report entitled ‘The Netherlands and European Development Policy’, published by the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) at the end of May 2008 in response to my request for advice of 11 June 2007. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister for European Affairs and I hereby present the government’s response to the advisory report. Copies will be sent to the Presidents of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The functioning of the European Union in terms of European development policy
The AIV report confirms that important developments are taking place within the EU in the field of development cooperation, and is positive about the changes that have taken place in recent years. It recognises that the EU is now an important player in terms of international poverty reduction, noting that its international political influence could be increased if the development policies of member states were better integrated with that of the Commission. The report also observes that the aid managed by the Commission has become more effective and efficient, including its implementation in the field. Nonetheless, the AIV believes that further improvements are both feasible and necessary.
I endorse the AIV’s analysis. In recent years the member states and the Commission have successfully established a stronger, clearer European development policy. In November 2005, following the agreements made in 2002-2005 on the phased increased of member states’ development aid budgets to at least 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) by 2015, the European Consensus on Development was adopted. For the first time this document set out a common EU development policy for member states and the Commission. The European Consensus strongly reflects the agenda of like-minded donors who, through the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/Development Assistance Committee (OECD/DAC), helped develop the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. The member states and the Commission then worked to forge agreements on improved coordination of aid efforts. Since May 2007 an EU Code of Conduct on Complementarity and Division of Labour in Development Policy has been in force. After a slow start, implementation of the Code, which is designed to improve coordination between donors in recipient countries, has gathered pace.
In recent years the quality of aid managed by the Commission has drastically improved, as noted in the most recent DAC Peer Review.1 The establishment of the EuropeAid Cooperation Office (responsible for implementing Commission policy), the delegation of responsibility to European Commission Delegations to partner countries and a series of other measures have all contributed to this. As a result existing funds have been reduced by allocating aid more quickly using proportionally less manpower, most aid performance is now monitored and more evaluations now take place. In many respects, aid managed by the Commission is no longer less effective than that provided by the most efficient donor countries. One key characteristic of this aid is its firm emphasis on economic infrastructure and production, including Aid for Trade, regional economic development and agriculture. The focus is on Africa, but a sizeable proportion of Commission aid goes to the EU’s eastern and southern neighbours, mainly through the European Neighbourhood Policy. In Africa in particular, a high percentage of aid is channelled to budget support, tailored to the priorities of reliable partner countries.2 The report emphasises that coordinated action by the EU in a partner country could increase the effectiveness of cooperation, particularly budget support.
Donor coordination, the role of the Commission and the consequences for the Netherlands
The AIV states that the European Consensus can best be regarded as a ‘framework that indicates the tasks’ for EU development cooperation and that the Netherlands and like-minded member states should continue to lead by example. It should make the ‘best possible’ use of the EU as a specific forum for mutual coordination. The advisory report points out that, given the foreign policy and economic interests that could be at stake, division of labour is not merely a technical operation. Closer EU cooperation on development would undoubtedly present opportunities to strengthen the dialogue with partner countries, for example in the context of budget support.
According to the AIV, the Commission should not automatically take on the role of lead donor in more developing countries; it should however act as lead donor in areas where it has exclusive competence (such as trade). In the interests of increasing the EU’s international weight in the field of development, the AIV recommends that the Netherlands should aim to channel more aid through the EU budget, ‘if this is expected to lead to positive results in partner countries’. The AIV is referring in particular to the period after the current Financial Perspectives (2007-2013); for the intervening period cofinancing would be an option.
The AIV advisory report also states that only time will tell whether the positive effect of recent changes in EU development policy on effectiveness and opportunities for the Netherlands will last. Either way, more improvements are needed, says the AIV. Even if the EU has added value in certain areas over individual member states, the latter will want to, and should, continue to play a role, says the report. In doing so the Netherlands needs to determine its position on the complementary role the EU can play in terms of bilateral policy priorities.
The AIV’s approach has much in common with the current Dutch position. As far as the division of labour is concerned, the Netherlands plays a leading role in implementing the EU Code of Conduct on Complementarity and Division of Labour in Development Policy, and has continued to push for a division of labour between the Commission and member states. This would allow the Commission to concentrate on areas in which it has added value. The Commission is currently working with ten member states (including the Netherlands) on a plan for fast-tracking improved division of labour in consultation with a number of key partner countries. Moreover, it has recently made proposals regarding countries and sectors in which it is prepared to either delegate Commission activities or take over activities in which member states are leading donors. In the near future it will become clear how successful this approach is, and whether the Commission would be willing to extend the project to other member states. Either way, the Netherlands is prepared to actively lend its support. It is important, for the Netherlands, that the recipient country is closely involved in working agreements made between donors, and is able to play a steering role. This is why the Netherlands insisted that the Code of Conduct specify that leadership should lie with the partner country government, and that EU input should be based on existing processes, consistent with established agreements and open to non-member states.
The Netherlands is particularly keen to strengthen political dialogue with partner countries. Closer cooperation between member states and the Commission should give this dialogue extra momentum. Better and more systematic use should be made of the possibilities for joint policy dialogue offered by the Cotonou Agreement.
Given that the Financial Perspectives have been fixed until 2013, it will indeed not be possible at the current time for the Netherlands to make a greater contribution to the EU development budget. However, the Netherlands still supports bringing the EDF, which has always been intergovernmental, under the EU budget in the following period. Cofinancing of the Commission’s external policy activities became an option as of the introduction of the new financial regulations on 1 May 2007 and publication of EDF 10 this year. The Netherlands currently has no concrete plans to cofinance the Commission’s aid activities but would, in principle, be prepared to do so. The Netherlands has also applied for the assessment of its rules on tendering, internal control mechanisms and accounting, which is required if Dutch activities are to be considered for cofinancing by the Commission.
The government generally agrees with in the AIV’s ‘positive but critical’3 approach to European development policy. This policy has won a place both internationally and in Dutch policy, but still has more to prove. There have been some useful new developments, such as the European Council’s adoption of an EU Agenda for Action on MDGs in June 2008, and European cooperation in preparing for the Accra conference in September 2008. The Netherlands’ reluctance to commit stems from uncertainty regarding the ultimate position of other key member states. The advisory report does not analyse this in any detail. One of the Netherlands’ responsibilities is to implement the agreement to increase ODA in certain member states, partly in response to the lack of growth of 2007. It also remains to be seen to what extent member states and the Commission are prepared to achieve an effective division of labour in partner countries. As indicated above, current developments on this point are otherwise positive. Given the potential added value, the Netherlands will work to ensure that the improvements that have been made are strengthened and continued.
Security and development
The AIV notes that, if a successful policy on fragile and failing states is to be achieved, the Netherlands must act as part of a coalition. The AIV sees the EU as a ‘priority forum’ for pursuing such policy. The Netherlands should therefore actively contribute to developing policy on fragile states at EU level. The AIV emphasises that, in terms of security and development, the EU has at its disposal a range of instruments found in no other context. Improving policy integration and donor coordination should enhance these instruments even further; in this context the AIV refers to the combination of the posts of High Representative and Vice-President/Commissioner for External Relations under the Treaty of Lisbon. At the same time it notes that the EU’s potential contribution in the fields of development and security should be viewed in conjunction with that of other players, especially NATO and the UN. The AIV does however underline that this does not necessarily mean that the EU is the most appropriate forum in all places and in all cases for activities in the field of conflict prevention, crisis management, peacebuilding and reconstruction. In noting this the AIV endorses existing Dutch policy. It also notes the importance of the availability of non-ODA funding for external policy, and suggests that other member states follow the example of the Dutch Stability Fund and its British counterparts.
The government agrees with this view. The EU already operates an integrated security and development policy laid down, for example, in the European Consensus on Development. During the Portuguese presidency in 2007 useful progress was made towards devising policy on fragile states. The EU clearly has added value when it comes to promoting stability at the interface of development aid and security. The wide range of instruments it has at its disposal for preventing conflict, promoting stability and providing reconstruction aid, which are currently deployed in a number of developing countries, are indeed important factors in this added value. Since 2003 some 20 civil and military crisis management operations have been carried out on three different continents in the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). Other EU instruments include Civilian Response Teams and battlegroups. Special Representatives, which are of key political importance, have proven their value. The Instrument for Stability can make funding available for crisis management activities at short notice, while the African Peace Facility (APF) provides funding for military and civil operations and for African Union peacebuilding and peacekeeping projects. The EU’s position as largest donor makes it a major global player able to deploy a wide range of instruments, from soft power through to hard power, to promote stability, security and development.
The EU should continue to work closely with other players, first and foremost the UN but also NATO and other regional organisations such as the African Union. However, Africa should be seen as a special area of interest. The EU should also attempt to build a working relationship with less traditional candidates, for example China. The Netherlands would again emphasise the importance of making non-ODA funding for peace and security activities available at short notice, so that the EU can respond efficiently to security and development needs (cf. experiences with the Dutch Stability Fund).
In summing up, it can be concluded that the AIV’s analysis of developments in European development policy is very similar to that of the government, and that the advisory report largely supports and confirms the government’s current EU policy. The same applies to the AIV’s advice on security and development. When it comes to development policy, the EU is already an important forum for the Netherlands in terms of cooperation and coordination with other donors. The Netherlands aims to further strengthen EU development policy. It also aims to further develop the EU’s role in conflict prevention and management, promoting stability and working on reconstruction in developing countries with special focus on Africa. Realising the EU’s potential in these areas will, however, continue to be largely dependent on the commitment of other member states. The Netherlands will nevertheless continue to lead the way.
Minister for Development Cooperation
1 OESO/DAC Peer Review European Community, Paris, July 2007
2 It should be noted that the proportion of aid channelled to budget support is less than the 50% cited in the report (p. 17). In 2007 general budget support accounted for more than 8% of total Official Development Assistance (ODA) payments made by the Commission, including almost 12% of European Development Fund (EDF) payments. In EDF 10 (2008-2013) it is projected that general and sectoral budget support will account for 45-50% of the country programme budget, amounting to some 36% of the total EDF 10 budget; if policy is effective, two thirds of this (24% of the total EDF 10 budget) could be allocated in the form of general budget support and the remaining third (12%) in the form of sectoral budget support.
3 We are critical, but positive’ said the AIV in its press release presenting the advisory report.