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The ECDPM Weekly Compass is your reliable source on the latest policy issues concerning international cooperation, with a focus on the EU and its relations with countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific - in your mailbox Friday afternoons.

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Editor's Pick

Trade talks set to disrupt Africa-Europe relations
Talks towards free trade between the European Union (EU) and Sub-Saharan African countries could seriously sour the political relations between the two continents and potentially jeopardise their Summit next April. After over ten years of negotiations, the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are due to be completed over the next few months. Failure to do so by October 2014 - a deadline unilaterally set by the EU - will mean that some African countries will lose their preferential access to the European market. Based on a new ECDPM paper, San Bilal writes in ‘This is Africa’ on the ongoing process, saying the challenge is that negotiations on EPAs, meant to be concluded on a regional basis, are still bogged down by some remaining technical issues that negotiators seem unable to overcome. It is time to take more explicit account of the political nature and interests behind this EPA process, so as to encourage more strategic diplomacy. ECDPM also released a paper asking what would it take to make an EPA economically and politically feasible for Europe and Africa?
 
Policy News

Challenges 2014 series: The African Peace and Security Architecture
This week’s blog and podcast consider messages from the recent ‘Revitalising The Africa-EU Partnership’ and ‘Looking Beyond 2013: Are EU-Africa Relations still Fit for Purpose?’ conferences and argue that although the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) might have a strong track record, that’s no reason for complacency. The APSA is seen as the most successful part of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, but as Volker Hauck argues, it inadvertently poses major challenges for the EU-Africa Summit. There is a risk of complacency, disregard of uncomfortable past lessons and insufficient adaptation. Demographics, financing, political dialogue and synergies in current post-conflict recovery frameworks for a more coherent approach are among the challenges that lay ahead in 2014.

EU progress in policy coherence for development
The European Commission has published its report on policy coherence for development which lays out the progress made by the EU and its Member States in ensuring that their policies and actions in areas such as trade, agriculture, finance, security or migration are in line with poverty reduction in developing countries and other development objectives. EU Member States are reporting some progress in aligning policies, particularly in committing to the principle of policy coherence for development, but the report concludes that much work remains to be done. It features a section highlighting ECDPM’s work on PCD including: Learn to walk before you run?: A review of methodological approaches for evaluating coherence in the field of international cooperation and Insights from developments in national policy coherence for development systems: Key cross cutting issues and dilemmas.
 
EU-Africa relations: Building a sustainable partnership for the future? 
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and ECDPM held a conference in September on future perspectives of EU-Africa relations in the run-up to the Summit that will be held in April 2014. The conference brought together some 40 senior officials from the African, ACP and EU institutions and member states. This report states the EU needs to treat Africa as a continent of opportunities instead of a continent of crises. The EU should also clearly define its comparative strengths and value added. The issue of conditionalities was also raised as a key point of contention, with the agreement that the partnership should be based on ownership, and not on externally imposed conditionalities that have not worked in the past.

'Top-down' approach needed for EU-Africa partnership says EU official
The current Joint Africa-EU Strategy covers the full spectrum of topics and sectors, with communication at all levels following a ‘bottom-up’ approach on an informal and daily basis. But to accelerate progress in advance of the April 2014 EU-Africa Summit, a new ‘top-down’ system of communication needs to be put in place in order to focus on the nature of this partnership for development, according to Françoise Moreau, Head of the Africa-EU Partnership and Peace Facility Unit at the European Commission in this article on Devex. The Summit will be a good occasion to provide focus to our partnership, and the EU needs to carefully look at the current structures and make sure that, at the political level, there is agreement on our common strategic goals, she says.

Africa and Europe building a destiny: private sector, civil society and food security
ECDPM has released a number of videos from the European Think Tanks conference on ‘Looking Beyond 2013: Are EU-Africa Relations Still Fit for Purpose’. The main address was by Pedro Pires - former President of Cape Verde and winner of the 2011 Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership - on ‘Africa and Europe, building a destiny.’ ECDPM also talked to Heike Rüttgers from the European Investment Bank on supporting private sector in Africa, Joseph Chilengi, the African co-Chairperson of the Africa-EU Civil Society Joint Steering Committee and a member of the Africa Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council and the Tanzanian Ambassador, Diodorus Buberwa Kamala, on policy coherence in relation to food security.

A dangerous blend? The EU's agenda to ‘blend’ public development finance with private finance
Eurodad calls for an immediate end to the controversial ‘blending’ financing mechanisms until there is a radical improvement in accountability and transparency. The report finds that there is no reliable evidence to show that blending mechanisms actually meet development objectives. There are not appropriate mechanisms to involve developing countries’ stakeholders, which risk undermining country ownership. There is a lack of transparency and accountability, with insufficient information made available to the public. A full and independent review of the effectiveness of existing mechanisms focusing on their development impacts is needed, including whether – given their governance failings – they are suitable vehicles for Official Development Assistance.

Private investment and regional approaches to nutrition security
Nutrition and malnutrition are extremely complex issues, and one of the approaches to tackling the problems faced by many people is to engage multi-sectoral and regional actors in dialogue. In partnership with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a meeting was held to bring the private sector, African governments, civil society organisations, the donor community, and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) process together and discuss what works and what does not in current market-based partnerships for nutrition security, and the potential benefits of a regional approach in Africa. Video interviews in the fringes of the conference are available, including comment from UNICEF, GAIN, and representatives of the private sector who all agree that this approach is beneficial.

Time to consign today’s corporate social responsibility to history’s dustbin
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities “have not made a significant contribution to the achievement of the broader policy goals of the European Union.” That is the headline conclusion of a massive research effort to assess the impacts of CSR on Europe’s economy, society and environment. David Sogge, in this guest contribution to ECDPM’s Talking Points blog, says that the research found CSR to be ‘an illusion’, akin to the ‘Emperor’s new clothes’. The question posed is: are these findings relevant to international cooperation policy? And yet despite the strength of the findings and the language used in the report, Sogge also notes “that the business press (let alone the wider media) has paid no attention”.

The evolution of Official Development Assistance
Official Development Assistance (ODA) has for 40 years provided the yardstick for documenting the volume and the terms of the concessional resources provided, assessing donor performance against their aid pledges and enabling partner countries, civil society and others to hold donors to account. The Institute for International Integration Studies in their new report says the ODA definition has always reflected a compromise between political expediency and statistical reality, as such it is based on interpretation and consensus and therefore allows for flexibility. To address prevailing concerns and to inform the debate, IIIS propose an alternative measure of Official Development Effort (ODE) which could be useful in framing the post-2015 development agenda.

More news from The Filter

ODI looks at the costs and benefits of the EU from a UK perspective. They say the EU offers many distinct comparative advantages as a channel for UK aid and as a means of securing UK development objectives.
 
The World Bank explore making trade policy more transparent through a new database of non-tariff measures. As tariff levels have reached all-time lows in recent decades, non-tariff measures have taken a central role in the international trade agenda.
 
The African Capacity Building Foundation have released a new article on mobilising domestic resources and innovative sources of financing for Africa Regional Integration on ECDPM’s Africa-Europe relations blog.
 
The Brookings Institution looks at the new players on the world stage: the Chinese and Indian states.
 
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has released a new handbook to raise the awareness of tax examiners and auditors of issues concerning bribery and other forms of corruption and provide guidance on how to recognise indicators of possible bribery or corruption in the course of regular tax examinations and audits.
 
‘Why are development agencies giving up on development?’ asks the Center for Global Development. Eradicating extreme poverty has to be just one among many development goals. It cannot be the sole or primary goal of a development organisation that wishes to remain engaged productively with national governments.
 
ECDPM’s San Bilal took part in the Guardian Global Development Professional’s debate on infrastructure development in fragile states where they asked: what types of projects encourage stability and employment and should infrastructure be left to public-private partnerships?
 
The Broker’s newsletter looks at power dynamics and natural resources - in five case-study articles, CoCooN researchers expose the interconnectedness of resource-related conflicts with structural cultural and ethnic inequalities, and with socioeconomic inequalities deriving from the global political economy.
 
Harry Jones from ODI looks at the complexity of development 101: behind the hype, what do we actually know? See also Part 2.
 
Economic recovery grounded in inclusive economic growth should be a top priority for the new leadership in Tunisia and Egypt. The Brookings Institution looks at preventing economic collapse and promoting inclusive growth in Egypt and Tunisia.
 
Who are the rising powers in international development? The Institute of Development Studies looks at how these new players can build an agenda for collaboration.
 
A learning event for DFID by the Institute of Development Studies aimed to facilitate the sharing and learning of experiences in international development and policy, from and amongst the BRICS, and to set out a framework and broad parameters for engaging with the rising powers in the future.
 
The German Development Institute looks at the structure change and multilateral aid. They say it is rarely possible in practice to draw a clear distinction between bilateral and multilateral aid, as there are overlaps between them and they are often delivered in special forms.
 
It is time for a strong new impetus towards a European global strategy. This paper from Carnegie Europe identifies some of the key challenges that need to be addressed in this context.
 
EU accounts signed off, but errors persist in all main spending areas, say EU Auditors. The annual report on the EU budget for 2012 financial year was published today by the European Court of Auditors (ECA).
 
The following Parliamentary Update covers the European Parliament’s joint meeting between the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Subcommittee on Security and Defence in the presence of Chairs of the relevant Committees of national parliaments to discuss the preparations for the December European Council.

More policy news is available at The Filter: collected from over 500 sources. 


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No 167, 8 November 2013


Dear Jacques,
 
ECDPM is organising and facilitating an informal knowledge platform between European, African and Chinese stakeholders on sustainable private investments in African agriculture today. The platform aims to strengthen mutual understanding and lesson learning, as well as provide a space for trust building and enhanced international partnerships. As Africa is preparing for the AU's Year of Food Security in 2014, our long term goal is to gradually build a platform for mutually beneficial partnerships for food security and agricultural development. Ultimately, we aspire to create a forum that can help Africa respond more efficiently to its food security challenges, while also assisting pubic and private partners in further developing their support and contributions.
 
The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) released reports on African sub-regions’ priorities for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including proposed goals, targets and indicators. The reports served as inputs to the Africa Regional Consultative Meeting on the SDGs, which sought to establish a common African position on post-2015 for future negotiations.
 
Ahead of the 5th session of the Open Working Group (OWG) on SDGs, the OWG’s Technical Support Team released briefs on a number of questions under consideration: on macroeconomic policy questions; energy; sustained and inclusive economic growth, infrastructure development and industrialization. You can access the full set of briefs on the OWG website (under the UN System inputs tab).
 
The ACP Eminent Persons Group hosted consultations in the Caribbean on 1-2 November. The meeting is the second in a series of six rounds of consultation in the various ACP subgroups. Outcomes of these meetings will feed into a final report to be presented to the ACP Summit to be held in December 2014. Reports of the meeting can be found here and here.
 
The European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials wants to involve a large number of partners across the European Union and the entire raw materials value chain to carry out actions contributing to the objectives of the EIP. They are launching and open call for commitments by actors in the private, public and non-governmental sector. It is anticipated that the call will trigger a number of individual commitments (referred to as Raw Material Commitments – RMCs) where the partners jointly commit to co-operate and take actions that will contribute to achieving the objectives of the Strategic Implementation Plan, in the different action areas. A conference will be held on 5 December.
 
The OECD will broadcast the proceedings of the 12-13 November public consultation on transfer pricing matters. The public consultation will consider comments received on the Revised Discussion Draft on Transfer Pricing Aspects of Intangibles, and on the OECD White Paper on Transfer Pricing Documentation. It will also devote time to a public discussion of the transfer pricing aspects of the Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS).
 
The 2013 CAPE Conference on 13-14 November will look at how budgets actually work in the real world and explore the latest thinking on how they can deliver better development outcomes. The conference will be live streamed on both days and you can register for this. A framing paper explores contemporary research, debates and questions on budgeting in the real world.
 
The annual AidEx meeting on 13-14 November will bring together many organisations working in aid delivery in order to discuss obstacles and together plan better strategies and implement ideas.

Andrew Sherriff will moderate one of the sessions and Florian Krätke will attend the CONCORD meeting on EU Development Aid to 2020 on 13 November. Watch online here.
 
ECDPM’s Jean Bossuyt and Willem Vervaeke will facilitate a regional seminar on on decentralisation and local governance in Anglophone and Lusophone Africa in Nairobi next week.
 
Jeske van Seters will attend the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS) Annual Conference on Achieving  the  Maputo  Declaration  Target  and  Prioritizing  Public  Agricultural  Expenditures” on 12-13 November in Dakar.

San Bilal will attend the Eastern Africa – Southern Africa – Indian Ocean meeting on regional programming of the 11th European Development Fund in Mauritius.
 
Willem Vervaeke will attend the CTA Brussels Briefing on farmer-led research & innovation.

Kathleen van Hove the Joint Malawi-Zambia DTIS Seminar regarding Informal Trade, Trade in Agriculture, and Non-Tariff Barriers in Chipata.
 
For more on the latest policy issues concerning international cooperation, with a focus on the EU and its relations with the developing world, see ECDPM’s The Filter.

All the best,
Melissa

Melissa Julian
Communications Manager
mj@ecdpm.org     


Off The Track   

Are the Golden Years for Latin America Over? Latin American growth is cooling off sharply
In contrast with the 6.6% average growth rates prevailing between September 2003 and September 2008 – the pre-Lehman-crisis “Golden Years” for the region – LAC-7 GDP growth rates in 2012-13 are decelerating significantly.
 

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