The proposed New European Consensus on Development: Has the Commission got it right?
'The European Commission has proposed a new European Consensus on Development, governing all the development work of the Commission and the Member States.
The proposal works as a primer on contemporary development problems, consistent with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
However, it does not work as a strategy in the real world meaning of the term, with no discussion of comparative advantage and no explicit priorities or choices.
If (and only if) Member States and the European Parliament want a strategy and not a primer, then re-working will be needed. There are three priorities:
- More on comparative advantage and the respective roles of the Commission and Member States;
- More on thematic, sectoral and geographic priorities, with analysis of what this means for lower priority topics.
- More on policy coherence, including implications for the architecture of EUEuropean Union instruments.
Two big themes could provide hooks for this re-thinking: first, more on conflict management and development in fragile states; and, second, more on global public goods, especially climate change.
It is important that the new strategy take account of the implications of Brexit, especially losing 15% of the aid budget, alongside other UK assets. Salami-slicing should be avoided.
Council and Parliament should not merely comment on the draft, but ensure a revised version is produced, especially if major change is suggested.
An enticing prospect opens up. A call to action which builds on the sense of urgency contained in the EUEuropean Union Global Strategy (‘an existential crisis’) and the commitment contained in the SDG framework to act in both developed and developing countries. A resolute engagement by the EUEuropean Union and its Member States on all aspects of global policy. A clear sense of the comparative advantage of the EUEuropean Union as a whole and of the Commission vis-à-vis Member States. And a series of specific proposal to re-focus development cooperation, both aid and non-aid, to achieve greater results.'