EU ministers responsible for development aid will meet tomorrow (28 May) to approve a larger-than-expected budget for the European Development Fund and to set the tone for action to reduce poverty in the world, diplomats told EURACTIV.
The agenda of the EU ministers' meeting is seen as “quite important” for the long term, although the issues are not pressing.
The most important decision is the approval by the ministers of the 11th European Development Fund (see background). EDF is a fund member states pool together and which is managed by the Commission for development cooperation, mainly with the ACP countries (sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific).
Ministers will agree on pooling of €31.5 billion for the 2014-2020 period, diplomats told the press. This amount appears higher than the one proposed by the Commission, which earmarked €29.998 billion, and is substantially higher compared to the previous budget of €22.682 million for 2007-2013.
A diplomat said that the EU member states' effort in this time of crisis should be saluted, as they have maintained development cooperation with the least developed countries as a priority.
Another agenda item is the implementation of the official development assistance (ODA) targets. European leaders committed to boost overseas aid to 0.7% of GNI at a meeting in June 2005 (see European Council Conclusions, paragraph 27).
EU leaders have asked the Foreign Affairs Council to produce annual reports on how countries are performing with their targets. It is expected that this third annual report will say that the EU ODA has decreased slightly from €56 to €55 billion, but the EU remains the biggest ODA donor globally, the EU providing 0.43% of its GNI.
Another issue for political discussion will be the implementation of the EU’s Agenda for Change, which sets a more targeted approach to reducing poverty. Ministers are expected to discuss how EU institutions are planning to implement it in the next seven years and in particular in the advancement of joint programming.
Reportedly, a list of partner countries where member states and the Union will pool money and do joint programming has been agreed.
In the recent period, the EU has focused its attention on the countries in the greatest need and on the fragile states. Ministers are expected to discuss how the Agenda for Change has impacted in its two priority areas: human rights, governance and democracy, inclusive sustainable and growth for human development.
Ministers will also put on the table the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the post-2015 Development Agenda. A diplomat said that the discussion would be based on a communication from the Commission, and would focus on how the world should tackle poverty and sustainable development, but also promote human rights and security.
It is too early to say what the new goals and targets will be, but the Council conclusions are expected to outline a first definition of the scope of what that framework should look like, a diplomat said. He added that the understanding was that it’s no longer sufficient to work on poverty eradication, as it has to be made environmentally and socially sustainable. “It is difficult to stop being poor if there is violence around you,” he said.
Ministers will also have a working lunch with UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson who will brief them on how the discussions on the post-2015 MDGs are proceeding.