During the intervention, CONCORD expressed its hopes for a next EU budget in which the SDGs and the Paris agreement would be acting as blueprints. Now that the EC proposal is out, the main question have arisen: “Can the current draft proposal and architecture deliver on SDGs?” In the current proposal, there is no pledge to meet its 0.7% target nor a commitment to support partner countries’ efforts to implement their own SDG plans. CONCORD ensured to deliver its three main concerns on the EC’s proposal of merging 12 instruments, which implement a wide array of policies such as development, neighbourhood, human rights, and peace-building into one broad instrument:
We fear that this proposal signifies that the most vulnerable regions will be left out at the expense of countries with strategic geopolitical interest.
We fear that transparency and accountability will be undermined. It will be extremely difficult for you and us to assess the results achieved by EU spending if objectives cover a very broad thematic and geographical area, and even more so if the objectives do not converge, or if they are defined on-the-go, as will be the case with the emergency cushion.
Reaction from the European Parliament and the European Commission
In reaction to CONCORDs message, Maria HEUBUCH (Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance) expressed her opinion agreeing that SDGs indeed to be reflected in the budget. Furthermore, Charles GOERENS (Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe), reminded all of us that the global political landscape is putting multilateralism under threat (Brexit, Trump’s policies), hence to maintain multilateralism the EU needs to response to this within the next MFF.
Mutual concerns were shared in the meeting with regard to the merging of the 12 instruments in the EC’s proposal. For example, Ignazio CORRAO (Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group) stressed that there is indeed a shift from development cooperation towards migration management and welcomed CONCORD’s concerns on the flexibility aspect of the merge, as said “flexibility clause does not need to mean that there should be straight way for funds to go to migration”.
The European Commission, represented by Vincent Grimaud, started with expressing that the proposed funds for external action should be perceived as good news (having an 13% increase), as this confirms the EU’s way of not only inward looking but rather outward looking. Simultaneously, this would contribute to the commitment of delivering 0.7%. Furthermore, Mr Grimaud explains that the merge of instruments is based on covering a world wide scope, which is needed for committing to the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs.
Linda McAVAN (S&D), chair of the DEVE committee, came up with clarification questions on whether ring fencing would only count for geographical terms, and whether there is a set percentage for programmes which would fit into the DAC criteria (taking into account the focus on Least Developed Countries), as well as clarifications on the rules around the unallocated funds.
These questions left unanswered, showing that more debates and exchanges are necessary within this important process.
Story to be continued…