From 7 February to 3 may 2017, the European Commission held a Public Consultation on the EU External Financing Instruments aimed at all stakeholders in beneficiary and EU countries.
The consultation was held in preparation of the revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework – as regards the External Financing Instruments – and the European Development Fund (EDF). The objective of the consultation was to gather feedback from the broadest possible range of stakeholders, including those in beneficiary countries and in the EU Member States, on the emerging conclusions from the evaluations, as well as preliminary ideas on the future external financing instruments.
In general, CONCORD would like to see increased EU investment in people-centered development including gender equality, democratic governance and human rights, climate resilience and environmental rights, social security and well-being of all women, men, girls and boys. This is particularly important regarding the design of new programmes which address migration and development where the human rights of refugees and migrants should be front and center.
Here are some of the main recommendations formulated by CONCORD Europe to revise the current instruments and prepare for beyond 2020:
Mainstreaming human rights for a coherent approach
All programmes should mainstream a rights-based approach, including aspects of equality/non-discrimination, transparency/ accountability and participation/inclusion in the formulation of objectives and results. Gender should be clearly visible in all programmes, results statements, resources dedicated to gender equality, and in the approaches taken in day-to-day implementation. What’s more, the EU´s commitment to Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development means other policy areas should be accountable to development goals, not that development cooperation should be put to the service of other policy concerns.
Improving implementation thanks to flexibility and transparency
Continued simplification of rules and procedures is needed to increase transparency and flexibility. The focus should be on good planning, monitoring and budgeting practices that reduces the need for non-transparent allocations and reallocations. What’s more, simplification of the grant application and selection procedures, uniformity of approach and transparency on the process would relieve substantial administrative burden from CSOs.
Ensuring an enabling environment for civil society: key to improve democratic participation
To ensure that the funding programmes serve the purpose of leaving no one behind, the EU should promote meaningful and inclusive participation of CSOs in decision making and structured dialogue, within the country and sector frameworks for government – donor dialogues, and ideally take the lead in coordinating civil society support with other donors. Increase the visibility for the country roadmaps for engagement with civil society, and make sure that protecting and expanding civil society space is a part of institutional culture in all EU delegations, especially in difficult contexts. Respect for civic freedoms and the need for an enabling environment for civil society should be an important focus both in thematic and geographic programmes and in the political dialogue with partner countries.