The European Commission’s Institutional Framework for Development Policy
Iciar de Chávarri Ureta
Since 1945 Europe developed from being the main aid recipient to becoming the largest block of aid donors in the world. About half of all official development assistance (ODA) is provided by the Community and the fifteen Member States of the European Union (EU). 1 The European Commission itself manages on average a third of all multilateral ODA. 2 Although development policies date back to the Community’s origin, at the time neither was coordination among Member States’ policies attempted nor was coherence achieved between internal policies within the Community. In fact European development policies emerged in an ad hocmanner, responding to new interests. This lack of coordination and coherence is reflected in the current Commission’s institutional framework for development policy.
The European Commission is generally seen as the most complex institution of the European Union. When it comes to explaining its institutional framework regarding developing countries, this task is even more difficult. First, we have to consider that the Community’s development policy is of a dynamic nature and thus ever changing. It is also directly related to many other policies (regional policy, agriculture, trade, external relations, and so on) and managed by several institutions or services. Furthermore, the Community shares its competence on development policy with the Member States. Within the Community, competence has been usually shared, up to the latest reform, between numerous Directorates-General. The objective of this chapter is to try to provide a picture of the European Commission’s framework for development cooperation and to highlight the most important reforms related to this policy.