Simon Maxwell

Does European Aid Work? An Ethiopian Case Study

'Does European Aid Work?  An Ethiopian Case Study', in M. Lister (ed), European Union Development Policy, MacMillan Press, London, 1998

European aid is a business whose future is hotly debated. ’Maximalists’ would like to see growth in community action at the expense of national action, with deepening and possible geographical widening of Lomé relationships, accompanied by greater political accountability. 'Minimalists' would abandon the idea of contractuality and partnership with Lomé countries, and renationalise aid wherever possible. In adjudicating between these competing visions, issues of aid quality are central, taking quality to mean not just the long term development impact of aid, but also its effectiveness in meeting short term objectives, and its implementation efficiency. An evaluation of EUEuropean Union aid to Ethiopia, valued at close to $US 2.5 billion dollars over eighteen years, throws light on the issue of aid quality. Some aid, perhaps most, 'worked'; but some did not - for reasons partly internal to Ethiopia and partly internal to the EU. The EUEuropean Union programme has improved markedly but could improve further: a seven point action programme is proposed to enable the EUEuropean Union to achieve an objective driven strategy. A shift of resources from national action to community action would then be justified, capitalising on the economies of scale and the scope for more effective policy dialogue. A European Development Agency would also become an attractive idea.

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