Analysis of Development Co-operation
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Frequently Asked Questions
The principle of coherence has been introduced by the Maastricht Treaty (Title XVII, Article 130v) and is maintained also in the Lisbon Treaty (Article 208 TFEU).
This principle obliges the European Union to ensure that its internal and external policies with an impact on developing countries are coherent with EU development objectives. The article on development co-operation (Article 208 TFEU) has the eradication of poverty as the overarching objective. This means that EU international trade or agricultural policies cannot be contrary to development policy goals such as the eradication of poverty, but must be in line with and even promote it.
The Lisbon Treaty sets the number of Commissioners but does not define or assign the portfolios to each Commissioner. The text of the Treaty (Article 17(5) TEU) provides for the reduction from 2014 of the number of Commissioners to one corresponding to two-thirds of the number of member states. However, after Ireland rejected the Treaty in a referendum, concessions were made in order to retake the vote, compromise which, inter alia, contained the abrogation of this provision.
The High Representative ‘shall conduct the Union’s common foreign and security policy’, ‘shall preside over the Foreign Affairs Council’ and ‘shall be one of the Vice-Presidents of the Commission’ (Article 18 TEU).
It replaced Javier Solana (former High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and stepped in as a vice-president of the Commission in charge of external relations. The first incumbent is Baroness Catherine Ashton from the United Kingdom.
The European External Action Service (EEAS) is the newly created body headed by the HR for the purpose of coordinating the diplomatic services of the member states which is also staffed by ‘officials from relevant departments of the General Secretariat of the Council and of the Commission’ (Article 27(3) TEU).
In terms of EU development and humanitarian aid policies, the High Representative does not replace the respective Commissioners and does not have formal competences in this area.
According to the Lisbon Treaty, development cooperation is an area of shared competence between the Union and the Member States. The exercise of this competence by the Union doesn’t prevent the Member States from exercising their own. National development and EU policies should complement and reinforce each other (Article 208 TFEU). The special status allocated to Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid allows for strong joint EU actions while maintaining bilateral development programmes of the Member States; these provide added value given the expertise available in specific interests of the national development administrations.
Development cooperation policy is subject to the ordinary legislative procedure (the former co-decision procedure). This means that the Parliament has legislative powers together with the Council of Ministers. There is no change on this issue since the previous Treaty. The Parliament’s decisions are prepared by the Committee on Development.
The primary objective of the Union’s development cooperation policy is the ‘reduction and, in the long term, the eradication of the poverty’ (Article 208 TFEU). The same article reaffirms the principle of coherence of EU internal and external policies with development objectives when these policies are likely to affect developing countries.
The abovementioned article also makes a clear reference to the Millennium Development Goals by stating that the ‘Union and the Member States shall comply with the commitments and take account of the objectives they have approved in the context of the United Nations and other competent international organizations’.
a. Clarification on the status of Development Cooperation as one of the elements of external action, but which should not be subordinated to security, trade or agricultural priorities.
b. EU Development Policy is centered on the fight against poverty. It becomes its overarching objective.
c. The scope of EU Development Policy is clarified. It relates to all developing countries.
a. Creation of a legal basis for Humanitarian Aid (Article 214 TFEU). There was no article on Humanitarian Aid in the previous treaties.
b. Definition of the key principles governing Humanitarian actions: impartiality, neutrality, non-discrimination and international law (Article 214(2) TFEU).
c. The creation of a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps to provide a framework for European youth to contribute to the Union’s aid operations.
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in the framework of the group of Commissioners dealing with external policies, will be responsible for reaching consistency between the various areas of external relations. In view of reaching a balanced consistency, it is important to make sure that Development is supported by a strong political figure at Commission level.
There is no specific article on the finances going to EU development policy. The share of the EU budget going to Development Cooperation will be defined in the financial negotiations. The Lisbon Treaty sets the framework for these negotiations. Therefore EU finances are being defined in 2 steps:
A. Negotiation on a Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF):
B. Annual budget negotiations:
The legal personality given to the EU means that it has the right to conclude international agreements and it should be considered as a single entity in the framework of international negotiations, discussions, etc. This will not compromise the division of competences between the Union and the Member States, but will certainly help in presenting a united front in international fora such as the UN conferences, the International Financing Institutions or the World Trade Organisation.
According to the Lisbon Treaty, the Union has three different legal frameworks for the cooperation with third countries: one for all developing countries (Chapter 1 of Title III TFEU – Development Cooperation), one for non developing countries (Chapter 2 of Title III TFEU - Economic, Financial and Technical Cooperation with Third Countries) and a third one for Humanitarian Aid (Chapter 3 of Title III TFEU – Humanitarian Aid). The measures taken with non developing countries relate to the economic, financial or technical cooperation. They should be consistent with the Union’s development policy. The economic, financial and technical cooperation is subject to co-decision procedure between the Council and the European Parliament, which is not the case under the Nice Treaty. The same procedure applies for humanitarian aid.
This clarification is very important since it ensures that the EU defines its relations with developing countries under the development legal basis (Chapter 1). The framework for the relations with these countries will therefore be based on the overarching objective of development policy: poverty eradication. If this clarification would not have been made, a country like Bangladesh could have been falling under economic, financial and technical cooperation and the EU assistance could have been center on Europe’s own interests instead of the sustainable development of this country.
Parts of Article 212 TFEU had originally been introduced in the Nice Treaty. However the Nice version of this article (Article 181 TEC) does not specify that developing countries are excluded from the scope of this article. Going back to the Nice Treaty would then leave the possibility for Nepal to be treated like an industrialized country such as the United States.
The Lisbon Treaty also provides a legal basis for humanitarian aid (Chapter 3 of Title III TFEU) which did not exist in the Nice Treaty.
Article 208(2) TFEU states that ‘the Union and the Member States shall comply with the commitments and take account of the objectives they have approved in the context of the United Nations and other competent international organizations’. This refers, among others, to the Millennium Development Goals. The Union’s primary objective to reduce and eradicate the poverty is in line with the MDGs.
The Union may conclude agreements with international organizations where the Treaty so provides or where the conclusion of an agreement is necessary in order to achieve one of the objectives referred to in the Treaty, or is provided for in a legally binding Union act or is likely to affect common rules or alter their scope.
The Union will have legal personality which will help in being considered as a single entity in the framework of international discussions, negotiations of international agreements such as the UN conferences, the International Financing Institutions or the World Trade Organisation.
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will be responsible for negotiating agreements which relate exclusively or principally to the Common Foreign and Security Policy. This means that nothing prevents the Commissioner for Development to be the EU negotiator, or a member of the negotiating team, when the agreements relate to Development Cooperation.
The powers of the European Parliament in this field are strengthened by the Lisbon Treaty with its expansion of the remit of the ordinary legislative procedure (former co-decision).
Title II TEU sets out provisions on democratic principles and is the first legal base for participatory democracy in an EU Treaty. Improvements:
a. All European institutions are obliged to maintain an “open, transparent and regular dialogue” with civil society. Moreover, ‘every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union’ (Article 10-11 TEU).
b. The Commission is obliged to carry out broad consultations with the parties concerned. This could relate to citizens organizations from developing countries in the case of a law on development cooperation. Furthermore, the ‘institutions shall, by appropriate means, give citizens and representative associations the opportunity to make known and publicly exchange their views in all areas of Union action’ (Article 11 TEU).
c. A group of at least 1.000.000 citizens from various Member States can invite the Commission to submit a proposal under a new Citizens’ Initiative (Article 11(4) TEU). Its practical details are currently being defined in a Regulation.
As stated in the article on development cooperation (Article 208 TFEU) the ‘Union shall take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries.’
This clause contributes to strengthening the position of development vis-à-vis the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Moreover, Development Cooperation is confirmed as a community policy (subject to the ordinary legislative procedure). As the CFSP has a different status (intergovernmental policy), the interactions between CFSP and development should preserve the different nature of these two policies. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is responsible for Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Security and Defense Policy within the Council but not for all external Commission competences. S/he is only responsible for ensuring all EU's external policies are consistent and coordinated. Trade, Enlargement, Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid remain policy areas defined and implemented separately and dealt with by other Commissioners. The final wording of the article on the role of the HR (Article 18(4) TEU - “consistency of Union’s external actions”) preserves the integrity of external Commission policy. The status of Development Cooperation as a policy in its own right is therefore confirmed through this article.
Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid are both considered as competences that should be shared between the Union and the Member States (Article 208 TFEU). However, both Development and Humanitarian Assistance are defined as special shared competence since the Member States are not prevented to act on a specific development or humanitarian issue when the EU is active on it already.
National Development policies and the EU policy should not only complement each other, they have to reinforce each other. This special status allocated to Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid allows for strong joint EU actions while maintaining bilateral development programmes of the Member States that provide added value. The complementary nature of the shared competence applying to Humanitarian Aid and Development Cooperation allows for a strong interaction with the national public and helps build public support at national level.
The Cotonou Agreement, as an international agreement signed by representatives of the EU Member States and ACP countries, keeps the same legal status. The EU-ACP cooperation therefore still falls under this agreement.
The special status allocated to ACP-countries in the previous Treaty (Article 179 TEC) has not been reintroduced in the Lisbon Treaty. This article aimed at preserving a special status for the cooperation with ACP countries and specifically keeping the European Development Fund (EDF), which incorporates money dedicated to ACPs, out of the general EU aid framework and therefore out of the general EU budget.
The deletion of this sentence does not mean that the EDF will be integrated within the overall budget, as other changes in EU primary law would be needed to allow budgetisation (Maastricht Declaration 12). The inclusion of the EDF in the overall budget of the Union is a political change that will not happen unless all Member States agree. Discussions on this possible budgetisation are currently taking place in the context of the negotiations on EU finances for the post 2013 period.