Czechs unaware their country joined prestigious donors club

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The Czech Republic has become the first country among the new EU member states to join the world's leading development donors. But Czech media and the public in general paid little attention to the accession to this prestigious club, EURACTIV Czech Republic reports.

After 18 years of membership in OECD, the Czech Republic has completed its transformation from being a recipient to becoming a donor of development aid.

The Czech Republic becomes the 26th member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), nations which together provide as much as 95 % of total global development aid.

“The decision of DAC to offer the Czech Republic full membership is wonderful news, a positive assessment of the transformation which the Czech development cooperation has gone through. Czech development cooperation is to a great extent professional. There is still a long way to go, but we are approaching the experienced donor countries,“ says Šimon Pánek, the director of the Czech NGO People in Need.

At the same time, becoming a full member of DAC places requirements on how aid is spent, including increased coordination with other donors and avoiding the use of “tied aid", or the setting of conditions on recipient nations that they must use goods and services from the donor country.

“The purpose of the Czech development assistance shouldn´t be a support of the Czech goods or services," explains Jana Milérová, the director of FoRS – the Czech Forum for Development Cooperation.

EU aid commitments

The Czech Republic provides 0.12 % of its gross national income to official development assistance. This is well below the to 0.7% of GNI target which EU leaders committed to allocate to overseas aid at their meeting in June 2005. An exception was made for the 12 nations that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, including the Czech Republic, which were given a lower target of 0.33% of GNI.

The remaining newer EU countries have low rates of aid as percentage of their GNI – Bulgaria 0.08%, Estonia 0.11%, Hungary 0.10%, Latvia 0.08%, Lithuania 0.13%, Poland 0.09%, Romania 0.08%, Slovakia 0.09% and Slovenia 0.15%. Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania not yet OECD members.

The Czech Republic has had until now observer status on DAC. Slovenia, Slovakia and Poland have expressed interest in joining the committee. EU candidate Iceland joined the committee in March.

The news of the Czech Republic’s accession to the OECD donor’s club was hardly noticed by the country’s media. The Ministry of Foreign affairs called the event “a big success”.

“The results, which the Czech Republic maintained since 1995 in the area of foreign development cooperation and humanitarian aid, have inspired the OECD to address [the Czech Republic] to start the accession negotiations at the beginning of this year. The fact that we managed all the tests at worldwide standard is a great success for the Czech Republic,” said Ji?í Schneider, the deputy foreign minister.

Officials also emphasised on the need to involve businesses and civil society.

“The membership is great challenge not only to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but also to the private sector and NGOs – our projects in developing countries should be useful, in the long term effective and beneficial for all the participating partners,” said Tomáš Dub, also a deputy foreign minister.

Positions

Olivier Consolo, Director of Concord, the European Development NGO confederation, stated:

“For EU Development Cooperation this is good news because the Czech Republic is setting an example for other EU12 countries to follow by becoming the first to be part of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee.

"Czech Development Cooperation has gone through significant changes in the past 5 years, becoming the most transparent donor among the EU12 countries as shown in Concord’s Special AidWatch Report.

"By becoming a DAC member, the Czech Republic has the opportunity to not only to strive to achieve the 0.33 target by 2015 but to recommit to 0.7% of ODA/GNI by 2015 and to take greater responsibility in times of economic crisis when aid is needed more than ever.”

Background

The OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) will have 26 members with the addition of the Czech Republic.

Candidate countries are assessed in terms of the following criteria: the existence of appropriate strategies, policies and institutional frameworks that ensure capacity to deliver a development co-operation programme; an accepted measure of effort; and the existence of a system of performance monitoring and evaluation.

Members of DAC provide the annual submission of required ODA statistics and, on request, summary information describing their aid efforts and policies to be included in the Development Co-operation Report.

DAC members agree to submit to a regular Peer Review of their development co-operation, and to serve as an examiner in reviewing other member programmes.

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