Brussels, 19 May 2017 – European Development NGOs welcome the pro-solidarity elements integrated in the new European Consensus on Development but are alarmed by the instrumentalisation of development cooperation towards security, commercial and migration objectives.

eu consensus and sustainable development picture

Today, the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted the new European Consensus on Development, a cornerstone of EU development policy meant to define a new common framework for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda by the EU and its Member States.

CONCORD, the European Confederation of Development NGOs, encourages the renewal of the commitment to “the reduction and, in the long term, the eradication of poverty”[1] as main objective of EU Development policy. By attempting to align with the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, the Consensus reflects on the leadership of the EU, providing guidance towards Sustainable Development.

“The Consensus has improved through its different versions. The distinctive and crucial role of Civil Society in a democratic space, the focus on small-scale and local agriculture as well as the importance of women’s and girls’ rights are, among others, very valuable elements.”

Johannes Trimmel

CONCORD Europe President

Nonetheless, development NGOs are concerned about the overall direction of European development cooperation, progressively instrumentalised in favour of migration control [2], securitisation and the private sector [3]. The External Investment Plan and the Global Strategy were already attempts to serve EU self-interests, the Consensus is reinforcing that vision.


“The Consensus is unrealistic: development cooperation cannot pretend to lead to sustainable development if it is, at the same time, used to serve Europe’s economic, commercial, migration and security interests. The overall direction may even ultimately hamper the achievement of the positive elements in the Consensus.”

Tanya Cox

Member of CONCORD’s Steering Group on Sustainable Development

[1] Article 208 of the Treaty on Functioning of the European Union.

[2] In 2016, EU aid did increase by 13.1% but much of this increase reflects growing in-donor refugee costs. DAC rule allows donor countries to count certain refugee expenses as ODA; Germany spent over 20% of ODA for refugee costs in 2016. In 2015, 17% of its aid did not reflect a real transfer of resources to developing countries, because it went to “in-donor” refugee spending, debt relief, student costs, tied aid and interest payments. Article in The Guardian and Article in Devex on OECD ODA Stats 2016 from 11 April 2017 – Article on Aid Conditionality from December 2016

[3] CONCORD calls on rigorous and demanding standards to better regulate the use of aid in private sector investments, and to ensure that development motivations are not undermined by commercial motivations, or the interests of DAC members seeking to use ODA to support their own private sector. We want to ensure that private sector financial contributions are framed under sustainability and human rights criteria. Recent reactions: Open letter to the European Commission on agri-business mergers – 27 March 2017 and Recommendations on the Development Assistance Committee’s Approach to Incorporating Private Sector Instruments in ODA – June 2016.

Background information:

For the last year, CONCORD has been calling for the Consensus to be translated into action in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Recent reactions: