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Brussels, 30 August 2006

Governance at the heart of development cooperation: Commission proposes measures to foster reforms

The European Commission has today adopted a communication which proposes enhancing the means used to support governance and calls on the Member States to harmonise their work in this area. It advocates supporting the development of democratic institutions and processes more adapted to the needs of ordinary citizens, even the most marginalised, in the political, economic, social, cultural or environmental field. Poverty reduction, sustainable development and peace can be achieved only if significant progress is made towards democratic governance. The most important features of the proposed measures to encourage developing countries to step up their reform efforts are enhanced political dialogue, a common approach and a higher level of more effective assistance. Furthermore, an incentive envelope of EUR 3 billion has been set aside for this purpose for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

For the first time, in the context of the new European Development Consensus, the Commission is proposing to the EU a common approach to governance. The EU needs to have a more coordinated and more effective policy in this field. Stepping up development aid will bear fruit only if significant progress is made towards democratic governance in developing countries. For its part, the Commission is planning innovative measures.

Mr Louis Michel, Commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, said: “development, poverty reduction, stability and security all depend on States being able to perform the essential public functions of providing access to health, education and justice, observing fundamental rights and freedoms, and managing economic and natural resources in a transparent and responsible fashion”.

For Ms Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for external relations and neighbourhood policy, “the operational approach proposed by the Commission combines dialogue with incentives and is based on respect for ownership of the reforms by the governments and citizens of the partner countries. The Commission is also appealing for coordination and harmonisation among donors”.

For the ACP countries, the Commission has planned an incentive mechanism linked to ACP governments drawing up ambitious and credible governance plans. Programming of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) for the ACP countries will include an incentive envelope of EUR 2.7 billion[1] comprising national envelopes and a regional fund of approximately EUR 300 million. The Commission is also proposing to give more support to African Union institutions and the self-assessment mechanisms established by African countries.

Governance is a priority too in the EU's relations with its neighbours and with the countries of Asia and Latin America. Support strategies are planned according to the specific characteristics of each region.

The Member States of the European Union, as well as other donors, are called on to sign up to this initiative in order to ensure that the international community's support for countries undertaking institutional reforms is coherent and effective.

[1] The total amount of the 10th EDF will be EUR 22.6 billion for 2008-13.

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