Luxembourg, 1 October 2013
“EU needs to be more demanding of Congo authorities”, say EU Auditors
A report published today by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) is critical regarding the results of EU aid for promoting key areas of governance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). “While EU support is well-intentioned and achieving some results, progress is slow, uneven and, overall, limited“, stated Mr Hans Gustav Wessberg, the ECA Member responsible for the report. “Fewer than half of the programmes examined have delivered, or are likely to deliver, most of the expected results. Sustainability is an unrealistic prospect in most cases“.
If, as a main development partner with the DRC and an advocate of good governance and human rights, the EU is to continue to support governance in the DRC, it needs to improve significantly its aid effectiveness. In this respect, the Commission needs to be both more realistic about the design of, and what can be achieved with EU programmes. The Commission needs to be more demanding of the Congolese authorities when monitoring compliance with the conditions agreed and the commitments made.
Good governance is a fundamental European value and a key component of the EU’s development cooperation with third countries. Since resuming structural cooperation with the DRC, the EU has provided about € 1.9 billion of assistance between 2003 and 2011, making it one of the country’s most important development partners.
The audit examined the effectiveness of EU support for the electoral process, the justice and police and public finance management reforms, as well as the decentralisation process.
The ECA found that improving governance in the DRC is going to be a long process. In common with other development partners, the EU faces serious obstacles in its efforts to improving governance in the DRC. However, while the Commission is well acquainted with the main causes of State fragility in the DRC, it did not take sufficient account of this context when designing EU programmes.
In order to maximise the chances that EU funds are well spent, the audit concludes that “The EU needs to ensure that the funding is closely linked to the agreement of the partner country on programme conditions, objectives and risks and firmly underpinned by effective policy dialogue with the government on the definition and implementation of appropriate reform policies and strategies“.
The ECA recommends that the Commission and the EEAS review certain components of the EU’s cooperation strategy with the DRC, better assess the risks in connection with the successful implementation of programmes, establish objectives that are achievable in the national context and strengthen the use of conditionality and policy dialogue.
Notes to the editors:
European Court of Auditors (ECA) special reports are published throughout the year, presenting the results of selected audits of specific EU budgetary areas or management topics.
This special report (SR 09/2013) is entitled ““EU support for governance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo”. The ECA assessed whether EU support for governance relevant to needs and achieving its planned results and does the Commission take sufficient account of the DRC’s fragile context in the design of EU programmes? The audit covered EU support for the electoral process, security sector reform (justice and police), PFM reform and decentralisation over the period 2003 to 2011.
The audit concluded that the effectiveness of EU assistance for governance in the DRC is limited. EU support for governance is set within a generally sound cooperation strategy, addresses the country's main governance needs and has achieved some results. However, progress is slow, uneven and, overall, limited. Fewer than half of the programmes have delivered, or are likely to deliver, most of the expected results. Sustainability is an unrealistic prospect in most cases..
The Commission faces serious obstacles in its efforts to contribute to improving governance in the DRC: the absence of political will, the donor-driven dynamics of the programmes and the lack of absorption capacity. However, while the Commission is well acquainted with the main causes and consequences of State fragility in the DRC, it did not take sufficient account of this context when designing EU programmes. Risks have not been adequately addressed, programme objectives are often too ambitious, conditionality has a weak incentive effect and policy dialogue has not been exploited to its full potential and adequately coordinated with EU Members States in all areas..
Based on its findings, the ECA offers a number of recommendations, among them:
Press Officer European Court of Auditors
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