Assessing European Union's Development Policy: Building the Bridge between Rhetoric and Deeds

By Karamalakov, Nikolay | Romanian Journal of European Affairs, December 2011 | Go to article overview
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Assessing European Union's Development Policy: Building the Bridge between Rhetoric and Deeds


Karamalakov, Nikolay, Romanian Journal of European Affairs


Abstract:

This paper covers the topic of European Union (EU)'s development policy, focusing exclusively on the actions taken by the European institutions. It is argued here that despite the official rhetoric of the Union to support primarily least-developed states, development aid is distributed predominantly to states where the EU has geopolitical/colonial/trade interests, and major shares of aid are actually granted to advanced countries, rather than for poverty alleviation. This contribution analyses the strengths and weaknesses of this policy considering the current global challenges and which countries are entitled to bigger shares of development aid and why. The focus of this article is placed on the inconsistent guiding logic behind aid allocation in the EU. Furthermore, the thesis outlines a new 'pro-poor' approach that would align the implementation of the policy with the existing commitments. The main conclusion is that if the Union does not shift its actions towards poorer states as officially promised, it will undermine its aspirations for global actorness.

Keywords: European development policy, allocated sums, shifting aid priorities, 'pro-poor' approach

Introduction

EU and its Member States (MS) are considered the major providers of development aid in the world, amounting up to 65% of the total volume of Official Development Assistance (ODA) on yearly basis, or nearly euro60 billion in 2010 (OECD, 2011; European Commission (EC), 2010). In general, these substantial financial resources focus on principles such as strengthening democracy and eradicating poverty, which are found throughout both the political and technical documentation of aid provision'. Forthe period 2007-2013 the Union has committed euro146.5 billion for development, humanitarian and cooperation aid (Gavas 2009) with the main efforts of the EU's policy extending to economic and trade relations, better political dialogue and common strategies for coping with the challenges of today - poverty and famine among the most important, thus trying to meet the 8 challenges of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

Behind the rhetoric of the fundamental EU documents CTFEU, the Consensus on Development), one encounters difficulties when analysing aid effectiveness due to vague objectives and undefined target indicators regarding the expected effect of the financed projects, as well as an unclear picture of the accountability of the committed financial resources. Despite the political message, that the allocated external aid targets people from the developing countries as end beneficiaries, and despite there is evident positive effect through national and local incentives, the EC is exercising a selective strategy. As a result this paper sets out to reveal that EU institutions, in stark contradiction with their own official objectives, are granting the bigger share of the ODA support to better developed countries, rather than to the least-developed ones. Therefore, this contribution will dwell upon the reasons why the EU is distributing aid in this manner, and it will furthermore give a possible solution to the core problem -the conflict between 'rhetoric' and 'actual deeds'.

The aim of this analysis will be achieved by presenting the guiding political rhetoric behind the distribution of official development assistance of the European Union institutions in respect of eradicating poverty in the least-developed countries in the 21 st century and by outlining the most troublesome aspects of the development policy which may hinder its overall effectiveness with the special focus being on the weak link between EU's political commitments and the logic of aid allocation in which developing countries are supported. On this basis we would then propose a new approach for disbursing financial aid that would increase the operational capacity of the development policy. As a result, the thesis will provide additional points to the debate that the EU development policy is in need of change now in order to strengthen the Union's global presence, and make it an example of how other donor organisations should follow their commitments and support the developing countries.

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