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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


The European Commission, civil society organisations and the private sector: when talking the same language isn’t quite enough
With the continually growing recognition by donors of the importance of the private sector in development, the European Commission is preparing a Communication (policy document) on the subject, due out in April this year. ECDPM was asked to moderate a consultation with civil society organisations and the private sector this week to get views on what the Communication should contain. In our Talking Points blog, Bruce Byiers points out that while the language used by the two groups is increasingly similar, this can hide key differences in perspective that are important to bring out to better inform the Communication. On the blog you can also watch the video from some of those that attended, with views from firms such as Orange and Philips as well as the thoughts of Oxfam, Care and the European Commission.
 
Policy News

ODA Reform: Change for the sake of change?
Official Development Assistance (ODA) reform proposals currently on the table constitute modest adjustments rather than a radical overhaul writes the OECD’s William Hynes in ECDPM’s Talking Points blog. ODA has for 45 years been the global standard for measuring donor efforts in support of development co-operation objectives. Recent calls for the concept to be modernised have been restricted by high-level decisions, he says. Debates on modernising and clarifying ODA in the context of the post-2015 development agenda have renewed calls for donors to meet past commitments and retain the 0.7% target for ODA.
 
West Africa and EU reach agreement on EPA
The chief negotiators, appointed by the Heads of State of the Economic Community of the States of West Africa (ECOWAS) and those of the Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), Kadré Desire Ouedraogo and Sheikh Adjibou Soumare, announced on Saturday in Senegal that they have reached an agreement with the European Union on the controversial issue of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Read the rest of the EPA update in ECDPM’s GREAT Insights, including the news that European Ministers are calling on the European Commission to show more flexibility in EPA negotiations and find out what happened when the EU Trade Commissioner met Pacific trade ministers.
 
Taxes and fragile states: how political can it get?
The 2014 OECD report on Domestic Resource Mobilization in Fragile States is an interesting – and paradoxical – example of the current debate on statebuilding. Linking domestic resource mobilisation and fragile states is a very welcome approach, and the political thinking driving it is just what is needed in development debates, write ECDPM’s Frauke de Weijer and Bruce Byiers in this Talking Points blog. But by relying on assumptions about fragile states that are optimistic at the best of times, the latest OECD Fragile States report falls short of expectations.
 
EU struggles to balance interests in North Africa
Three years after the ‘Arab Spring’ the EU’s policy for North Africa is still conflicted writes ECDPM’s Faten Aggad in “This is Africa”. Throughout the political upheavals in Egypt, the EU was very careful not to publicly condemn or support camps. The EU is in a delicate position. While it tries to keep a common front on values of democracy and human rights, its lack of strategy on how to reconcile these with its interests in the southern Mediterranean have resulted in policy confusion. But the truth is that the EU is not yet equipped to delicately balance its values and its interests. The result is a seemingly incoherent policy, which serves the EU agenda now, but might backfire in the long-term.
 
When ideas trump interests
Dani Rodrik challenges the notion that there is a well-defined mapping from “interests” to outcomes. He argues that any model of political economy in which organised interests do not figure prominently is likely to remain vacuous and incomplete, but it does not follow from this that interests are the ultimate determinant of political outcomes. Is there a direct parallel between inventive activity in technology and investment in persuasion and policy innovation in the political arena? Rodrik argues once this fluid nature is recognised, vested interests become much less determining and the space of possible outcomes much wider.
 
The elusive win-win balance in mining: a two-part blog
Mining companies, African governments and civil society organisations seem to live in parallel worlds that rarely meet. When they do,it is mostly in the margins, and what is said often seems lost in translation. San Bilal, Head of ECDPM’s Economic Transformation Programme attended the 20th annual Investing in Africa Mining Indaba gathering of mining stakeholders, along with Deputy Head, Isabelle Ramdoo, who shared her thoughts on the event last week. Mining Indaba is an annual ritual where mining companies and related businesses meet. Bilal says that ‘they will all be worse off by missing out the big picture’, which is that the extractive sector should play a pivotal role in the industrialisation and economic transformation of Africa for more inclusive and sustainable growth. Part 1 of his blog looks at the main public discussions held at the event, and you can also read part 2 on what really happens in the margins of the meeting.
 
Quadruple or quits: Managing the overlaps between the 2015 agendas
Despite the disappointments of the last decade, the next two years will see the world’s governments defiantly embark on no fewer than four high-stakes multilateral agendas – a case, if you will, of quadruple or quits, says Alex Evans of New York University’s Center on International Cooperation. Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015, WTO ministerial summit in December 2015, a crucial climate summit in Paris and high level summit on financing for development at some point in 2015 or early 2016.
As these agendas gather pace, elections will be taking place in many countries. And if you think the politics of what we’re setting out to achieve looks challenging, just wait until you see the issues involved in the four 2015 agendas, says Evans.
 
Measuring post-2015 progress
The environment is the most prominent Post-2015 theme according to the North-South Institute (NSI) new Post-2015 Tracking Tool, an interactive aggregator of proposals on the post-2015 development agenda. Across the 77 proposals captured by the dataset, the environment was followed by health, education, employment and inclusive growth. The associated report provides thematic analysis of NSI’s dataset, identifying the issues that are gaining traction across post-2015 proposals and showcasing the types of data that are being sought to track development progress.


More news from The Filter

Connecting to global markets: Challenges and opportunities
Most countries design their trade policy with the aim of increasing and diversifying trade. But it is equally clear that non-tariff barriers continue to represent a major hurdle for developing-country exporters. This latest publication from World Trade Organisation (WTO) finds valuable insights into the challenges that countries face in their attempts to connect to global markets.
 
Analysing nutrition governance in fragile contexts: Lessons and implications
Most nutrition investments tend to adopt short-term humanitarian approaches to tackle food and hunger crises. Fragile and Conflict Affected States usually lack the capacity to design and implement their own nutrition strategies and have very weak or non-existent accountability mechanisms. This latest report from Institute of Development Studies offers practical recommendations and policy advice to address nutrition governance challenges.
 
Achieving financial inclusion with ICTs: The donor role
With an estimated six billion cell phone subscribers worldwide, development actors are embracing the potential of using phones and other information and communications technologies – ICTs - for development purposes. ECDPM’s Kathleen van Hove asks CGAP microfinance specialist Antonique Koning how donors can maximize their impact in this new arena, with particular focus on the use of mobile devices as part of the delivery mechanism for financial services.
 
Regional integration in Africa: Challenges and prospects
The lack of adjustment funds to address the uneven distribution of benefits across contributing partners means the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) have not yet completed goods-markets integration. Estimates reveal the shortcomings of the linear model of integration, as behind-the-border measures aiming to reduce trade costs were largely ignored across African RECs until recently according to this UNU-WIDER report. While gaining confidence is necessary for collective action, many behind-the-border measures could still have been undertaken unilaterally.
 
Infrastructure Investment Policy Blueprint
Political risk has emerged as one of the most pressing concerns for infrastructure investors. This report from the World Economic Forum provides recommendations on how governments can attract private capital to public infrastructure projects while creating clear social and economic value for citizens.
 
ACP-EU Technical Barriers to Trade Newsletter
Keep up to date on the launching phase of the ACP-EU Technical Barriers to Trade programme with it new newsletter. The newsletter also has information on major events in 2013 and upcoming projects.
 
Growth slowdown in Middle East and North Africa heightens the need for reforms
Ongoing regional tensions and challenging external environment have hit the economies of the Middle East and North Africa hard. Economic growth is slowing, fiscal buffers depleting, unemployment is rising, and inflation is mounting in seven of the region’s most vulnerable economies-- Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen and Libya. While these countries face an unstable political and macroeconomic environment, the growth slowdown after the Arab Spring creates a unique opportunity to address structural problems towards job creation and inclusive growth.
 
Global Donor Platform for Land and Resource Governance
How can we help stakeholders identify opportunities to coordinate activities and leverage resources for greater impact? The Global Donor Platform for Rural Development contains information and shares knowledge and best practices to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of current and future land governance programmes. An interactive map of the information in the database displays where donors and development agencies are working in support of land and resource governance.
 
Getting the story right on APRM; Governance values and practices in Africa
A fundamental flaw of the APRM process is that it gives little attention to issues of media freedom, reforms in relevant legislation and access to information, according to the South African Institute of International Affairs. Are the stories correctly ‘packaged’ for the media? Are the technicalities explained? Is the APRM trying hard enough? How can we improve media coverage of the APRM? Read more….
 
More attention must be paid to building democratic governance as African challenges are rooted in governance problems. Governance values that are deeply rooted in African culture have not been communicated effectively at a regional and international level, requiring a strengthening of Africa’s engagements on regional and global dialogue platforms. Read more….

Do taxes Matter? The quest for non-resource-based FDI
Taxation is not a significant driver for the location of foreign firms in Sub Saharan Africa says the International Monetary Fund. Other investment climate factors, such as infrastructure, human capital and institutions, are. While there is considerable contrast in behavior between vertical and horizontal FDI, taxation is not a key determinant for either type of FDI. Horizontal FDI is affected more by financing and human capital constraints, and less by infrastructure and institutional constraints.

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No 179, 14th February 2014


Dear <<First name>>,

British Member of Parliament Kate Hoey has reportedly urged British Prime Minister David Cameron to boycott the upcoming summit between Africa and the European Union after Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was invited to attend. The UK Foreign Office has released a statement saying that it disapproves of the EU invitation to Mugabe. But Blessing-Miles Tendi says in The Guardian that Cameron should resist pressure to stay away from the summit arguing that it would be hypocritical to boycott because of Mugabe’s presence and yet say nothing about the participation of Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta, who is accused by the International Criminal Court of orchestrating post election violence in 2007-8 in which more than 1,000 people were killed. He says other likely attendees are hardly paragons of human rights protection either.
 
A five-member delegation of Members of the European Parliament, led by the European Peoples Party member Dr Mario David, visiting Harare this week called on the EU to lift illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

In a meeting this week in between the African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson, Erastus Mwencha, and the Deputy Director General of the Directorate General of Development Cooperation of the European Commission, Klaus Rudischhauser, the two Commissions agreed to promote any points of convergence in their post 2015 development agendas to defend their common interests.
 
France's National Assembly adopted a bill that will allow members of parliament to debate policies on international development for the first time, and make French aid more transparent. Previously, French politicians had been able to vote only on the aid budget without being able to influence the direction of development policy.
 
German President Gauck, Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Defence Minister von der Leyen have initiated a debate on Germany taking on more international responsibility. The German Development Institute looks at the role of Germany and Europe in dealing with global challenges.
 
Michel Barnier, the European Commissioner for Competition, has formally put himself forward as a candidate to become the European People's Party nominee to become president of the European Commission.
 
Bloomberg news reports that Namibia said it won’t be able to renew a trade deal with the European Union by the time an existing agreement expires in October because the EU is inflexible over food and agricultural imports.
 
The OECD published a new single global standard for the automatic exchange of information between tax authorities worldwide. Developed by the OECD together with G20 countries, the standard calls on jurisdictions to obtain information from their financial institutions and exchange that information automatically with other jurisdictions on an annual basis. But anti-poverty campaigners are warning that developing economies were not included in discussions around the new common reporting standard. Indeed, the new standard has yet to offer clarity on how it would include poor countries, despite the fact that developing economies are among the hardest-hit by global tax evasion.
 
The Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals co-chairs are formulating a stock-taking document today that reviews everything discussed over the past year. Next week they will publish a document compiling “priority areas” for member-states to discuss, from which a conversation on goals and targets may start.
 
A meeting on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme will be held next week in Addis.
 
ECDPM’s Andrew Sherriff will speak at next week’s Wilton Park conference on EU programmes and action in fragile and conflict states: next steps for the comprehensive approach.
 
Jeske van Seters and Willem Vervaeke will attend a meeting with the recently appointed EMRC President Prof. Monty Jones (Special Advisor to the President of Sierra Leone and winner of the FAO World Food Prize), DR Congo’s Minister of Agriculture, Jean Chrysostome Vahamwiti Mukesyayira, and DR Congo’s Minister of Industry and SMEs, Rémy Musungayi Bampale who will discuss the opportunities and challenges of Africa’s Agri-Food sector. Speakers will outline their views and vision of the current and future status of Sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural potential.
 
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   
 
Was Great Britain a mistake?
This light hearted satirical article in “Think Africa Press” links current nationalist tensions in the UK with colonial geography and asks the question: “If the UK were an African Country: Was Great Britain a Mistake?”

 

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Publisher: The Weekly Compass is produced by ECDPM with financial resources provided by our core and institutional funders: The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Luxemburg, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.

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