Policy Coherence for Development in the European Parliament: 2013 Report

Last week Mr. Charles Goerens (ALDE), Standing Rapporteur on Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) presented his report on PCD in the European Parliament. This draft report follows up after the ‘ 2013 Spotlight Report on PCD’ by CONCORD and the European Commission biennial progress report on PCD. How can the EU improve its policies regarding development and not take away with one hand, what they give with the other. What does Goerens address in this report and what is still missing?

In the EU several policies still have negative effects on people in developing countries. As the largest donor in the world the EU tries to help developing countries by giving development aid, but on the other hand they create policies that harm the development of these countries. This should be stopped, not only we think so, but also a report written by MEP Charles Goerens shows that the European Parliament is active tackling this problem.  

In his report he pays attention to the overarching policy areas, which are important for PCD. He proposes that the head of the European Commission, Manuel Barrosso, takes responsibility for creating coherence for development in European policies. Exactly because key to PCD is that it handles with several policy areas, such as trade, migration, climate change and security, that are all linked to development. As such, MEP Goerens also highlights these different policy areas and pleads for more coherence here. For example he proposes that it should be systematically measured what the impact of the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU is on local economies in developing countries.

Besides these good efforts in the report by Mr. Goerens, there are still some issues missing. For example the importance of the upcoming proposal by the European Commission on conflict minerals. This proposal should safeguard that European companies aren’t involved in financing armed conflicts by purchasing minerals that come from mines controlled by armed groups. This is only achievable when the proposal of the European Commission includes strong measures on creating transparency and responsibility for companies on the whole supply chain. Incorporating this in the Report of the European Parliament would be a good way to pressure the European Commission in drafting a coherent proposal.

Also asking for qualitatively good impact assessments, measuring the impact of European policies on developing countries would be a great step forward in preventing incoherencies in policy areas. We plead for better measurement of PCD and development issues in these impact assessments. Currently development is often overlooked in this process when policies are made. We hope that MEPs take over these recommendations and propose them as amendments for this important report. This would bring us a step closer to coherent policies.

In this parliamentary year, already much attention has been paid to PCD. First by CONCORD, the European NGO confederation on relief and development, which launched their 2013 Spotlight Report on PCD. Here examples of incoherencies in several policy areas are shown. Besides these examples also clear recommendation to improve EU policies are given. As such there was an example of Caroline Muchanga, a woman who sells her products at a market in Zambia, who pays more taxes than Zambia Sugar Plc., a subsidiary of UK food giant Associated British Foods. This is possible because of the lack of transparency and the existence of tax havens. These financial flows hinder the Zambian government of raising taxes and investing this money back to society, in education or health care. You can read more about this example and other examples here.

Also the biennial progress report on PCD launched by the European Commission evaluated the progress on PCD in the last two years in the EU. Here support for better Impact Assessment, measuring developmental impacts, were given. Although some points of critique on the EU policies were shared by the Commission, incoherencies still exist and didn’t got the attention they deserved in this report.

We hope that the EU 2013 Report on Policy Coherence for Development by Mr. Goerens will be amended in some ways, so that it is clear that the European Parliament doesn’t accept more incoherent policies. The deadline for amendments is on Wednesday the 29th of January, and the EP will vote on this report on the 20th of February.   

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