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Strengthening Community - Member State operational coordination


This communication lays down the guidelines for enhancing operational coordination between the European Community and the Member States in the field of development cooperation.


Communication from the Council of 9 March 1998 - Guidelines for strengthening operational coordination between the Community and the Member States in the field of development coordination [Official Journal C 97 of 31.03.1998].


Role of beneficiary states
The Council considers that all coordination should strengthen the role of the beneficiary country in the general coordination of aid with the eventual aim of ensuring an increasingly dominant role for the beneficiary state in this area. The partner State in the beneficiary country should thus be involved in each stage of the coordination process.

Determination of the specific role and modalities of European Union coordination
The role and modalities should be jointly determined with the beneficiary country, and for each sector or area of development cooperation. To facilitate this task, they should be determined by a joint assessment of the situation. This would take stock of the priorities for the country and for each sector, the policies supported by the Community and the Member States, the existence and functioning of coordination mechanisms including other donors, etc.

Modalities of operational coordination
In principle, the Commission delegation in the country concerned should launch and implement this general process of strengthening operational coordination between the Community and the Member States, in close collaboration with the presidency. However, the follow-up may be delegated to a Member State if that proves desirable. In the absence of a Commission delegation in the country concerned, the presidency would take responsibility for the coordination process.

The coordination arrangements adopted by the Commission and the Member States may include:

  • regular meetings to update priorities, prevent duplication of effort, adopt a common approach where possible and exchange information and views on the priorities to be set, etc.;
  • exchange of information on the policies adopted, missions, ongoing activities, etc. This exchange could be facilitated through the creation of a database model. In the long term, the objective is to help the government of the partner country to develop its own capacity in relation to the exchange of information;
  • joint studies, analyses and evaluations;
  • joint programmes in the form of sectoral programmes;
  • harmonisation and adaptation of aid arrangements wherever possible. Appropriate coordination at headquarters level is also essential.

The enhanced coordination may also be extended to other actors in the field of development coordination outside the European Union.

In 2000, the representatives of the Member States and the Commission drew up an evaluation report on the strengthening of the EU's operational coordination. The report notes that, although coordination is relatively satisfactory, it must be strengthened further.

Many Member States of the European Union pursue bilateral cooperation in developing countries in parallel to that pursued by the European Community. This is why it is important to ensure better operational coordination between the Community and the Member States in the field of development so as to prevent duplication of effort and maximise the impact of the European Union's aid for the beneficiary countries. This coordination should come into play in both the drafting of strategies and the implementation of projects.

This communication comes within the broader framework of the initiatives aimed at improving operational cooperation between the Community and the Member States in all areas of external relations (CFSP, etc.).


On 21 January 2001, the General Affairs Council adopted the guidelines for strengthening operational coordination between the Community and the Member States in the field of external aid.
The guidelines relate to six main aspects: the role of the partner countries; the role of the EU's operational coordination in the broader framework of international coordination; the EU's coordination at the various stages of the cooperation cycle; management of the coordination process; the coordination procedures and dissemination, implementation, reports and follow-up.

The beneficiary country should be the main actor in the development process, including the development of strategies. At international level, the Community and the Member States should ensure closer coordination with a view to maximising their role in international institutions. The Community and the Member States should also ensure close coordination throughout the project management cycle. The strategy drawn up for each country is an important tool for this coordination. The Delegation in the country concerned or the presidency representative should monitor and facilitate the coordination. The Member States and the Community should, where necessary, harmonise their activities by implementing, inter alia, joint projects and by harmonising their procedures, financial regulations, etc.

Given that the efforts aimed at ensuring better operational coordination have not always been implemented, it is essential for the guidelines to be distributed to the delegations and representatives. Moreover, regular reports on operational coordination incorporating suggestions for improvement must be submitted by the Commission Delegations and the representatives of the Member States in the countries concerned.

Last updated: 26.07.2007
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