We are writing to you ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on December 12th, when EU development ministers will discuss issues that are critical to driving forward the EU international development agenda, namely Post-2015 agenda and the means of implementation including the role of the private sector. We ask you to take advantage of this opportunity to ensure that Europe makes further progress on the following critically important priorities:
CONCORD strongly asks the EU to ensure that proposals put forward in the upcoming Council Conclusions on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda are truly universal and transformative. To that end, we urge you to speak in terms of tackling poverty and inequality wherever it exists.
We encourage EU Member States to move away from current paradigms focusing almost exclusively on economic growth, as measured by GDP, and to embrace a far more comprehensive measure of progress such as the notion of well-being. It has been shown time and again that the benefits of economic growth do not ‘trickle down’ to reach the whole population, particularly the most marginalized and disadvantaged.
CONCORD would also like to urge EU Member States that they do not allow inconsistencies between elements of the framework to appear. One example would be the tensions that exist between economic growth and the imperative of remaining within planetary boundaries. To this end, environmental and climate change concerns should be mainstreamed throughout the framework.
CONCORD welcomed the June Council Conclusions on the role of private sector in Development with its clear reference to internationally recognized guidelines and principles, such as the UN guiding principles on Business and Human rights. In the meantime limited progress has been made. CONCORD is concerned about the EU’s failure to date to take the steps necessary to ensure that clearly defined international principles and criteria will be the main guide for the significantly increased role envisaged for the private sector in development. Compliance with these criteria should be a pre-condition for Private Sector engagement and accountability mechanisms should be included.
Considering the recent findings of the EU Court of Auditors, CONCORD demands a more cautious and balanced approach on blending and a range of measures and financing mechanisms for development wider than blending to be addressed in the conclusions, such as domestic resource mobilization and measures to tackle tax evasion and illicit financial flows.
CONCORD recognizes the need for scaling up dialogue with the Private Sector and recommends a multi-stakeholder dialogue that includes CSOs and small-scale (informal) private sector from developing countries. This dialogue should contribute to achieving greater policy coherence between different stakeholders and should serve to influence EU policy-making. CONCORD strongly disagrees with the apparently privileged role that the Council Conclusions envisage for private sector actors in economic policy making.
Financing for Development (FfD)
CONCORD hopes that the Third Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa will set ambitions very high in order to make sure that the Post-2015 agreement and the COP21 in Paris deliver equally ambitious outcomes. It is the opportunity to review progress in achieving the Monterrey Consensus and its follow-up agenda, specifically the Doha Declaration on FfD. The FfD Conference must cover the broad set of FfD issues that determine countries’ ability to finance their own sustainable development: domestic resource mobilisation, private flows for development, trade, international financial and technical cooperation for development, external debt and systemic issues. The EU’s credibility and reliability as a global actor will be determined by what it brings to the table and the specific new commitments it is willing to make and deliver.
As demonstrated in the most recent publication of CONCORD 2014 Aid Watch Report: Aid Beyond 2015: Europe’s role in financing and implementing sustainable development goals post 2015 the EU will fail to meet its commitment to the 0.7% target in 2015 and will not even meet the intermediary target of 0.56% ODA/GNI. The EU’s commitment and delivery of existing aid targets is critical to the EU’s credibility and to address profound imbalances in today’s globalized and interdependent world. The EU must recommit to and outline clear plans to achieve the 0.7 target. This requires immediate and urgent action as so far only four EU member states have met the 0.7% target of GNI for ODA.
EU Gender Action Plan
The year 2015 should see some substantial new global commitments to gender equality and girls and women’s empowerment. At an international level, there will be the UN review of the Beijing Platform for Action as well as the conclusion of the negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals, which should include a stand-alone goal on gender equality and the mainstreaming of gender issues throughout the framework. The EU should not only support positive outcomes for girls and women in these fora but should also update the EU Gender Action Plan to ensure a more comprehensive, results-oriented programme for action reflecting the vision, goals and targets of the post-2015 framework. Furthermore, the EU must, this time around, fulfil its commitments to girls and women across the world. To ensure it does not fail, it must dedicate sufficient resources to gender, instate true expertise on gender within all EU institutions and Delegations, ensure gender is integrated in all policy dialogue with partners and ensure that its commitments to policy coherence for sustainable development encompasses positive outcomes for girls and women.
Migration and Development
CONCORD calls for a thorough re-orientation of the EU approach to Migration and Development, towards promoting human rights, dignity and integral development of migrants and their communities. Therefore, CONCORD asks for a new EC Communication that allows the EU to adequately tackle the root causes of forced migration, making migration a choice and not a necessity. This should be, followed by the adoption of adequate means of implementation and recurring impact assessments. In addition, the new EU policy should create an enabling environment for facilitating the involvement of diaspora and migrants, as social entrepreneurs, investors and policy advocates in their countries of origin, supporting the development efforts of the local communities and the EU itself – including through circular migration, portability of social rights and benefits and facilitating (collective) social and financial remittances.
CONCORD urges that the EU policies should be coherent in their aim and impact to promote development, and the EU should ensure the full integration of migration and migrants within the post-2015 international development agenda. Policy coherence for development also means a profound review of EU’s justice home affairs and security policies, allowing for safe and legal avenues for migration, and maximizing
protection of migrants in countries of transit and destination. Finally, CONCORD asks the EU that it shoulders equally the reception and resettlement of migrants, including visa facilitation and resettlement for refugees, and maximize its common efforts to prevent migrants from being harmed, exploited and killed along their uncertain and dangerous ways.
By Seamus Jeffreson