On 29 June, the European Commission (EC) outlined its priorities for the next budgetary period. Overall, the communication was welcomed by development NGOs due to the EC’s plans to increase external spending by €14bn from 2014 to 2020. The extra funding allocated to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the EU’s commitments to eradicate poverty. The document also outlined a potential Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) to generate EU resources and named climate action as a core priority. There is also an underlying emphasis on the role of the private sector in development.
According to the EC communication, the Commission proposes that €70bn shall be allocated to external instruments, including the Development and Cooperation instrument (DCI) and the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENPI). In order to support the implementation of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, the EC proposes the introduction of a pan-African instrument under the DCI, which “will focus on poverty eradication and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”. For the European Development Fund (EDF), which is expected to remain outside of the MFF, it is proposed that an allocation of €30 billion be made.
CONCORD welcomed the Communication, stating “The European Commission has shown courage in difficult times. It’s putting its money where its mouth is on giving priority to development,” said Olivier Consolo, Director of CONCORD. The Communication also argued for poverty eradication to be rooted in the promotion of democracy, human rights and equality by respecting the UN charter and international law — an approach applauded by CONCORD.
The Communication draws on the current thinking that gives an increased orientation on the role played by the private sector, not only for the implementation of activities (on the grounds that this levers more resources for development) but also in designing instruments and strategies. The Communication calls for the creation of a new Partnership instrument with industrialised and emerging economies to support EU business benefit from global economic transformation. In addition, the EU calls for greater risk sharing and guarantees so as to promote private investment in innovative business and infrastructure in developing countries. Whilst this emphasis on the private sector is not wholly unexpected in times of fragile economic recovery, there is a need to ensure that the EU’s global approaches are consistent with the EU’s international development commitments.
An orientation debate on the MFF will take place 12 September and 15 November 2011 in meetings of the General Affairs Council. Following this, the proposal for regulatory financial instruments will be agreed before the end of the year.