Translating the Monterrey Consensus into practice
The European Union takes stock of the commitments it made at the Barcelona European Council in March 2002 on development funding and recommends future action in certain areas.
Commission Communication to the Council and the European Parliament of 5 March 2004 - Translating the Monterrey Consensus into practice: the contribution by the European Union [COM (2004) 150 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
In its annual progress report, the Commission takes stock of the eight commitments it made at the Barcelona European Council in March 2002 and defended at the Monterrey conference on financing for development.
Financial resources for official development assistance
The report concludes that for the second consecutive year the Member States are well on track to meet this essential commitment and may even exceed the target set. Despite a difficult budgetary situation in many Member States EU countries increased official development assistance (ODA) in 2002 by 5.8 % in real terms compared to 2001 and provided 0.35 % of their collective gross national income (GNI).
ODA rose significantly in Sweden, France, Greece and Italy and also increased in Belgium, Finland and Portugal, but decreased in Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.
This report covers the enlarged EU, which has ten new Member States. These new Member States collectively allocated only 0.03 % of their GNI to development assistance in 2002. However, the Commission considers that this percentage could rise threefold in real terms to 0.11 % by 2006.
The Commission calls on Member States to maintain or increase their annual ODA pledges for the period up to 2006, in order to safeguard the progress the EU is making to deliver on the commitments it made at the Monterrey conference.
Coordination of policies and harmonisation of procedures
On this commitment, the report concludes that the EU has not always succeeded in significantly increasing coordination of its development policies or harmonising procedures for implementing assistance.
There is therefore still much to be done to ensure that resources which continue to be limited are used in the best possible way. Most Member States still wish to apply their own procedures when it comes to managing development aid resources in beneficiary countries. Many beneficiary countries are faced with a whole range of requirements in terms of reporting, different accounting standards, etc. and this is an administrative burden which is likely to seriously compromise their already limited administrative capacities. Member States deny themselves major productivity gains by duplicating their officials' efforts, particularly in analysing the political framework of beneficiary countries.
Consequently the Commission proposes a whole range of practical measures:
- closer coordination between EU donors in the development field;
- closer coordination for multiannual programme and analysis;
- establishment of a common framework for aid implementation procedures;
- a Community action plan for coordination and harmonisation in each partner country under which two EU donors or more will implement a cooperation programme.
The report indicates that there is no need to take any particular measures at Community level to meet the other six Barcelona commitments and efforts should focus on activities already under way to ensure that they are successfully completed.
Concrete measures have been taken in recent years to meet commitments to untie aid and debt relief. Encouraging progress has been made on global public goods, trade-related aid and new sources of financing, although this is due more to individual Member States' efforts rather than the EU as a whole.
In Barcelona the EU undertook to:
- increase average ODA from the European Union from 0.33 % of GNI in 2002 to 0.39 % by 2006 as a step towards the 0.7 % target set by the United Nations;
- improve aid effectiveness through a process of coordination and harmonisation and take concrete measures in this direction before 2004;
- take measures to untie aid for Least Developed Countries (LDC);
- increase trade-related assistance;
- support the identification of the relevant global public goods;
- continue to examine innovative sources of financing;
- support reform of international financial systems;
- pursue efforts to restore debt sustainability in the context of the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.
The Monterrey conference on financing for development
The international conference on financing for development held in Monterrey (Mexico) from 18 to 22 March 2002 established a consensus on financing for global development in developing countries. The EU, which provides over 50 % of official development assistance at international level, played a major role in the success of this conference. The EU defined its contribution to the Monterrey conference at the Barcelona European Council in March 2002.