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.


Editor's Pick

African Economic Outlook: locking in better resource management from the outside
The collaborative African Economic Outlook provided many headlines this week, including that the projected growth for 2013 and 2014 is 4.8% and 5.3% respectively. It paints an encouraging overall picture, despite many challenges across the continent. In a special segment on structural transformation and natural resources, it notes that without Africa’s natural resources there would be little else that drives productivity forward; yet without transformation as well, diffusing that success to the rest of the economy remains too slow. The AEO offers a 4-layered approach to harnessing that powerful force, and an ECDPM briefing note is referenced on page 163 calling for ‘locking in’ more effective management of natural resources for development. San Bilal, the author of the note, surmises as such: “too often, resource-rich countries have failed to capitalize from the benefits and transformative potential of their natural endowment. Poor or inappropriate governance and institutional structures have commonly been blamed for this resource curse”.

Policy News

EU development aid: where to and what for?
In this ECDPM video filmed on the fringes of ECDPM’s Board and eminent persons meeting around the future of EU-Africa relations, Klaus Rudischhauser, Deputy Director-General at the European Commission, talks about where and how EU development assistance should be targeted. He says money should be given to those countries most in need, and that other forms of development initiatives – such as domestic resource mobilisation – should be used in upper-middle income countries. Development assistance is “seed money to drive processes, to promote reform and to assist the country in implementing those reforms.” He says that the Commission will "produce a policy document - before the summer - showing the relative contribution and importance of the various sources of financing".

All for one or free-for-all? Early experiences in EU joint programming
Joint programming - a process through which EU institutions and Member States determine a development response strategy for a particular partner country - will be in place in around 20 countries by 2014 and launched in over 40 countries over the next four years, explained EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, reporting to Parliament on this week’s EU Development Council. A new Briefing Note from ECDPM explores recent experiences of joint programming in Africa, explaining it has the potential to increase EU visibility and influence by providing a practical basis for a political commitment to coherent EU External Action. Joint programming is context-specific, as shown in the Ghanaian and Ethiopian cases. However, to succeed, two results are needed -  commitment to a joint document replacing the EU member states’ bilateral strategies and a division of labour matching those joint strategies.

Between policy and practice: the EU Food and Nutrition Security Implementation Plan
The European Foreign Affairs Council endorsed a Food and Nutrition Security Implementation Plan this week. In his Talking Points blog post, Brecht Lein wonders whether it  will “actually be capable” of providing a better coordination of EU and Member States’ policies and programmes. The plan, titled ‘Boosting food and nutrition security through EU action: implementing our commitments’, defines the Commission's operational response to deliver on policy commitments made in prior communications on food security, resilience and nutrition. Considering the overly pragmatic nature of the plan in terms of broadly suggested interventions and modest performance criteria, Lein argues it is not a question of whether this agreement will actually be used as an implementation tool for joint action, but rather if it will serve as an ex-post reference document to confirm fixed national strategies.

Plugging the drain of Africa’s illicit financial flows
Over the last 30 years, Africa has lost between US$587 and US$1.4 trillion in net resource transfers away from the continent - almost equivalent to the continent’s current GDP. These include licit financial flows, such as investment, foreign aid, and debt relief and illicit flows, such as crime proceeds, corruption, and tax evasion. A study from Global Financial Integrity and the African Development Bank argues that if illicit flows continue at this scale ”domestic financing for development will continue to be seriously inadequate”. To remedy this, the report includes several policy recommendations, including promoting transparency in financial systems and entering into automatic exchanges of tax information agreements. It also suggests that by improving a country’s political and economic stability, it can help boost legal resources.

Food security challenges cast dark light on MDG progress
The dynamic relationship between food insecurity in Africa, and poor education, bad health and poverty can last for generations, and it remains a daunting challenge that could slow economic transformation. The UN report on MDGs 2013 explains that if the challenges of food security - such as price volatility, the effects of climate change, and underdeveloped agriculture - remain unsolved, Africa’s achievement of the Millennium Development Goals will hang in the balance. The 2009 MDG report found that progress on the goals was beginning to slow—and in some cases reverse—as a result of food crises and the global economic crisis. Suggestions in the report to improve food security include implementing regional programmes such as the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme at country level.
Seizing opportunities to link aid with public service delivery
ODI has released research into the little-known area of how aid programmes can help to improve weak governance in public service institutions. They find that aid-packages successfully engaged with governance constraints in six key ways. Identifying and seizing windows of opportunity, such as during political campaigns, helped to improve their success rate for example. Building on existing mandates and systems, and being given the space to tackle problems in a flexible way, was also key. The report also explains that aid programmes work best when acting as facilitators, and by supporting local problem solving by moving beyond policy advice. Finally, ODI adds that donors must adapt to the lessons learnt to increase their effectiveness.

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No 149, 31 May 2013

Dear Clem,
     In addition to the discussion on joint programming mentioned in our policy news items, conclusions on the post-2015 development agenda were endorsed by the EU Foreign and Development Ministers Council this week. But they were not released as they will be adopted by the General Affairs Council on 25th June. The Development Council did establish the EU position on the financial protocol concerning the 11th European Development Fund for 2014 to 2020. A total amount of €30.506 mln in current prices has been agreed upon.  An additional indicative amount of up to € 2,6 bln will be allocated through the European Investment Bank in the form of loans. The Internal Agreement for the EDF was also adopted. The objectives are poverty eradication, sustainable development and the gradual integration of ACP states into the world economy. The ACP-EU Council of Ministers next week is expected to finalise and adopt these protocols. The ACP and ACP-EU Council of Ministers will also discuss the future perspectives of the Group and the state of EPA negotiations.
     The EU Council also adopted conclusions on the EU Annual Report 2013 to the European Council on EU Development Aid Targets; on Food and Nutrition Security in external assistance; on the EU approach to resilience; and on Mali. There is no mention of Policy Coherence for Development in the conclusions though it was on the agenda (debriefing on the 2013 PCD report).
     In a structured dialogue on the Commission’s Development Cooperation Work Programme for 2014, the EU Development Commissioner told the European Parliament this week that the 2013 EU Report on PCD would be released in October.  MEPs asked for more commitment from the EC and EU Member States to achieve the 0,7% of GNP aid target. The Commissioner noted that the 0,7% target was included in the Multiannual Financial Framework Council Conclusions and is therefore still an objective on the EU agenda. You can watch a recording of the discussion online here.
     The African Union Summit ended this week and ECDPM’s Sahra El Fassi explains that over and above the 50th anniversary festivities was the task to shape a vision for the next fifty years. ECDPM will provide further analysis on the outcomes in our Talking Points Blog next week.
     The UN High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda yesterday adopted its long awaited report “A New Global Partnership. Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development. It sets out a universal agenda to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 and deliver on the promise of sustainable development. The Panel also calls for the new post-2015 goals to transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth, to build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all, and to forge a new global partnership. The many reactions to the report are listed in the Weekly Compass-Extended Version.
     ECDPM’s Andrew Sherriff attended the EU high level conference on how to strengthen the mediation capacity of the EU. The meeting discussed the ECDPM report conducted for the European External Action Service looking at lessons learnt in EU mediation and dialogue and an evaluatory review conducted by ECDPM on the Concept on Strengthening EU Mediation and Dialogue Capacities.
     Finally, ECDPM is pleased to welcome Rhys Williams and Nina Thijssen to our Communications Team. They’ll be working on the launch of our new website, planned for the end of September.
     For more on the latest policy issues concerning international cooperation, with a focus on the EU and its relations with the developing world, see the Weekly Compass-Extended Version.

All the best,
Melissa Julian

Off The Track   

  Market access to developing countries threatened again
The US Generalised System of Preferences programme, set up to boost trade in developing countries, is set to expire in July and Kimberly Ann Elliot of the Center for Global Development  questions whether this is a good idea


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