In 2015, CONCORD is publishing a series of papers on Policy coherence for Development (PCD), as a new form of its traditional biennial “Spotlight on PCD” report. As part of this series, CONCORD has prepared a new comparative study that analyses how Member States of the European Union have progressed on operationalising PCD through the establishment and functioning of appropriate institutional tools and mechanisms – especially since 2013 – and how they compare with each other.


operationalisig pcd

In 2013 CONCORD had produced a first study called “Overview of PCD systems in some Member States”, on the basis of a survey responded to by seventeen national development NGO platforms (CONCORD members). This study had revealed very varied records of institutional set-ups to deliver PCD at the national level.

The present research is also based on a survey sent to CONCORD national platforms, using a methodology that was inspired by the OECD “Policy framework for policy coherence for development” (2012). Moreover, a crossreference with other existing researches on PCD systems has been made in order to give a broader and more accurate assessment of national PCD systems. For this research, twenty-seven CONCORD national platforms 4 have given input, hence providing a more comprehensive analysis, and indicating an increased interest in Policy Coherence for Development.

In the European Union, 28 Member States are committed to ensure that their policies do not hinder the achievement of global development and poverty eradication, as well as the respect of human rights, otherwise called Policy Coherence for Development (PCD). This commitment is embedded in the Lisbon Treaty and in subsequent policy documents, including a series of Council Conclusions adopted by Development Ministers.

This CONCORD research looks into how Member States have pursued PCD at national level. Both commitments and institutional mechanisms are known to be essential elements to translate PCD into fair and development- friendly political choices. This research shows that more and more countries have now rooted their commitment into a policy or legal act at national level. One country even adopted a proper PCD implementation strategy with targets. An increasing number of governments have also established various types of inter-ministerial coordination mechanisms that may allow addressing issues of how national policies impact developing countries. In most cases, these are general coordination mechanisms, not specific to PCD. Feedback generally shows that the effectiveness of these ministerial mechanisms is largely questionable. At the same time, the majority of Parliaments have no equivalent intersectoral coordination mechanism.

Besides, institutional processes for assessing, monitoring and reporting on the external impactsof national policies remain quite rare. Nice words of commitment on paper and the establishment of various sorts of coordination or assessment mechanisms have the merit to exist, but cannot be taken for real action or firm choices for fairer policies. In most EU countries, development remains unconsidered when making other policies.

The general low level of awareness amongst ministries of the need to scrutinize policies for their impacts on developing countries and the even lower level amongst Parliaments seems to indicate that the pressure for change will not come from within, in the short term. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are useful and legitimate partners in PCD implementation and can help increase a country’s level of ambition for PCD.

However, this research shows that in the majority of Member States, external stakeholders such as CSOs are either not or not seriously involved in PCD implementation processes. CSOs have an important role to play to generate a demand for PCD commitments and fairer policies. Concepts of development are changing, with great implications for PCD in the light of the newly adopted universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This is an opportunity to review the adequacy and effectiveness of the institutional set-ups in Member States – as well as in the EU – to enhance policy coherence for the well-being of the people and the protection of our planet. This paper provides recommendations for both governments and Parliaments in the EU Member States, as well as for CSOs.

A slightly longer version of this paper with more examples is attached.