CONCORD calls on all three EU institutions to safeguard development and humanitarian aid in a more sustainable EU budget for 2015.

CONCORD’s Director Seamus Jeffreson has sent this in a letter to the President of the European Council Mr. Tusk, the President of the European Parliament Mr. Schulz and the President of the Commission Mr. Juncker:

Dear EU institutions,

CONCORD would like to express its deep concern over the ongoing debate on the EU 2014 and 2015 budgets. We would like you to firmly consider the negative impact on development cooperation and humanitarian projects and programmes if you fail to reach an agreement before the end of this year – just as we enter the European Year of Development and agree globally on a post 2015 framework and finances.

Furthermore, if the Commission is unable to honour 2014 commitments and has difficulties entering into new commitments in 2015, vulnerable communities in the poorest parts of the world will face the impact of reduced EU support to tackle the systemic causes of poverty and inequality and address global challenges such as migration, climate change, food insecurity as well as acute crises.

Both humanitarian and development programmes are suffering from a cash crisis in 2014. This is because of the gap between commitment and payment levels, as well as the roll-over of unpaid bills from previous years. In the overall budget figures proposed most recently by the Commission there is a serious gap of €3,889bn between commitment and payment credits, 24% of which can be attributed to external action (€928mn), instead of a more proportionate 6% (€233mn). Recurring and snowballing gaps year after year call for more structural solutions.

CONCORD therefore urges you to do everything in your power:

  • to protect and ring-fence a robust external action budget within the 2015 EU budget, in both commitment and payment levels and make sure the final 2015 budget includes additional funding as proposed in the latest Commission proposal strengthening the Development Cooperation Instrument (€87mn), the European Instrument on Democracy and Human Rights (€5mn) and the European Neighbourhood Instrument (almost €50mn).
  • to adopt the 2014 amending budgets proposed by the Commission and in that way mitigate the impact of the roll-over of unpaid bills from previous years on the gap between commitments and payments in 2015 external action budget.
  • to structurally solve the budget problem in the longer run by closing the gap between commitment and payment appropriations, in a sustainable and long-term manner, especially in the development and humanitarian budget lines. It goes without saying that this issue must be resolved by not simply lowering commitment levels to payment levels, but by allowing for predictable and robust annual budgets and sound budgeting for all development and humanitarian aid stakeholders. Payment cuts, delays and shortages will affect especially smaller Civil Society Organisations, who will not easily be able to bridge such delays and cuts in EU funding with private funding from the general public.

Hoping for a rapid, just and structural response, we thank you for your time and consideration and look forward to hearing from you how you will take this forward. We remain at your disposal for further clarifications.

Yours sincerely,
Seamus Jeffreson
CONCORD Director