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

The dilemmas of Policy Coherence for Development
It has long been recognised that developing countries are affected by a mixture of aid, development policies and non-development policies. The promise to “development proof” these non-development areas by promoting Policy Coherence for Development (PCD), remains undiminished. Yet, a new ECDPM Discussion Paper comparing 6 EU Member States PCD systems makes for sobering reading. The paper, originally commissioned by the Danish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, notes that political leadership is often lacking and that too little investment is made to bring PCD into the day-to-day business of government – particularly where it concerns research on the impact of other donor policies on developing countries.

Policy News

Africa and Europe: continental drift or widening cracks?
A new paper by ECDPM’s Damien Helly looks at the four key variables in the relationship between Africa and the EU since the adoption of the Joint EU-Africa Strategy in 2007: economy, development, governance and politics, and multilateralism. A ‘continental drift’ is in the making, associated with widening cracks in economic blocs, he says. Trade is mostly concentrated on a dozen countries on each side. Although the EU has lost some of its leadership in development policies, its funding capacities are still attractive for countries in need and the donor–recipient relation is, therefore, largely maintained. “The continent-to-continent relationship remains largely a vision,” according to Helly. This was no doubt a major point of discussion as European Commissioners met their African Union counterparts this week.

Closing Africa’s infrastructure finance gap
The African infrastructure gap remains a big challenge for the continent, particularly as it attempts to keep up with the pace of development and economic growth since 2000. Financing is a key issue: UNECA’s Economic Report of Africa highlights annual investment needs of USD 93bn and a shortfall of USD 31bn per annum. A new book by the African Development Bank Group explores how domestic capital markets can contribute to funding some of the most important local and regional infrastructure projects, helping to close the finance gap. This issue cannot be tackled by public and private sectors in isolation,  an effective collaboration between the two is needed. 

Count down to concluding EPAs: what's really at stake?
For better or worse, EPAs are back on the agenda, and the clock started ticking with 1st October 2014 as a deadline. As the EU is negotiating number of new bilateral agreements with countries in Asia and America, Africa seems to have become little more than an annoying negotiating partner. San Bilal writes, in this outspoken blog, a handful of countries have upheld their side of the agreement since 2007. EPAs were deemed to build on and foster regional integration. This may work for some regions, but is likely to put serious strain on others. San argues that whether EPAs are ultimately concluded should not be the issue. The EPAs are not about technical matters, which could have been solved a long time ago. They are about politics, in Africa and in Europe and the type of relationship between the two.
ACP-EU relations beyond 2020: Exploring EU perceptions
As part of a joint research project with the German Development Institute (DIE) in Bonn, ECDPM interviewed a selection of EU stakeholders in Brussels, as well as in European capitals, on their perceptions of the special relationship between the EU and the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries (ACP) as currently stipulated in the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. Though no official positions have been consolidated yet, European actors seem inclined to shift the EU’s external relations toward a more regional approach, while maintaining the valuable aspects of the present setup. In view of the Cotonou Agreement’s expiry date in 2020, EU stakeholders found it high time for a critical assessment of it’s added value. Moving away from the present donor-recipient dynamics should be the main consideration in the design of any future arrangement.
Striking a new deal for development and security
Development programmes are not likely to succeed if they do not address security. Yet knowledge of how to operate effectively in conflict-affected areas is limited. The Institute of Development Studies has proposed a ‘new deal’ in a report based on concepts of entrustment and brokerage to help development actors gain a better understanding of local realities, power and politics. Key findings show that integration at the local level is often overlooked, while external support can help local partners facilitate negotiations and build trust. The debate around the post-2015 development agenda offers a chance to strike this ‘new deal’ as fragile states are the furthest away from achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Moving from poverty to inequality for the post-2015 agenda?
What if the UN signed off a shift from poverty - the MDGs - to inequality in the post-2015 development agenda? What might a “Make Inequality History” campaign look like? A new blog from Oxfam’s Duncan Green talks about a recent conference in Brussels organised by Belgian NGO 11.11.11  for Think Global Day (which included ECDPM’s Jean Bossuyt on the panel). Duncan discusses inequality as the new “flavour of the month”. Some of the key themes of this new agenda, he argues, could be taxation, more focus on ratchet mechanisms, work with local partner organisations, and a focus on the enabling environment for redistribution. Yet, challenges such as communication and a demand for skills instead of cash could make it difficult. 

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No 146, 26 April 2013

Dear *|FNAME|*,
     The Irish EU Presidency this week informed ministers on the state of play in the discussions with the European Parliament on the next multiannual financial framework. The Irish Presidency aims to reach agreement with the Parliament on the MFF by the end of June. It also aims to reach agreement on the around 70 pieces of sector specific legislation underpinning the EU’s funding programmes.
     EU Agriculture Ministers were briefed on the state of play of the reform of the common agricultural policy. Member States supported the Presidency's work in the negotiations process, ministers expressed
diverging views during the discussion, especially on the threshold for the application of the
financial discipline measure on direct payments.

     EU Foreign Ministers adopted the EU position on the rules of procedure of the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement Committee, the customs cooperation committee and the joint development committee provided for by the interim EPA with the Eastern and Southern African states.
     The OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría presented a report to G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors that highlights measures to ensure that all taxpayers pay their fair share. G20 Ministers declared that automatic exchange of tax information is “expected to be the standard”
     The European Commission set up a platform for tax good governance made up of a group of experts from Member State authorities, businesses, tax professionals and civil society. Their role is to discuss, exchange expertise and assist the Commission in the selection and preparation of appropriate measures to progress in the field of tax havens, aggressive tax planning and double (non)-taxation.
     Following recent discussions at the informal meeting of the ECOFIN Council, Minister Michael Noonan, President of ECOFIN for the Irish Presidency and EU Commissioner for Taxation Algirdas Šemeta have written to all EU finance ministers about the fight against fraud and tax evasion. The joint letter identifies seven key areas where concrete action can be delivered in the short term.
EU Member states concerned about the effect tax could have on their overall costs of borrowing.

     The 11 eurozone member states that want to introduce a tax on financial transactions have asked the European Commission to clarify the expected consequences, including the effect it could have on their overall costs of borrowing.
    The UK has launched a legal challenge to plans for a European Financial Transaction Tax.
     There will be no Weekly Compass on 3 May and 10 May due to holidays. The Weekly Compass-Extended Version will be updated if in the meantime you’d like to keep up on the latest policy issues concerning international cooperation, with a focus on the EU and its relations with the developing world.
     Finally, as regular readers know, it’s that time of year again – purple flowers in the Hallerboss! Next weekend (4-5 May) the forest in Halle will be covered with wild hyacinth flowers. It’s really something to see. The best place to start from is ‘T Kriekske Restaurant. Enjoy!
All the best,
Melissa Julian

Off The Track   

 Long awaited reforms on US overseas food aid policy are needed
An article from the Economist discusses US food aid policy and asks whether new reforms will really make a difference? The current programme is caught in an “iron triangle” between farm interests, shippers and voluntary organisations, as well as Congress


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