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What is Joint Programming?

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Andy Benfield15 January 2014

What does Joint Programming mean?

  • The establishment of a single EU country analysis and response strategy for a partner country. The strategy must provide the overall rationale and direction for aid provided by the EC and EU MS as well as saying which European donor will work in which sector and their indicative funding allocation to it. Apart from that, there is no template, so the document can be developed according to the specific requirements of each country. 
  • The joint strategy should be developed instead of bilateral strategies and not in addition to them. 
  • The strategy should limit itself to saying which sectors each donor will work in. It should not go into the details of how this work will be carried out, i.e. aid modalities or individual initiatives to be pursued. These questions should instead be left to each donor’s bilateral implementation plan (in the EU institutions case, the MIP), to be developed as they see fit. Each donor is therefore still free to pursue the aid modalities they choose and to undertake either bilateral or joint initiatives.
  • The strategy, and individual donors’ bilateral implementation plans, should be aligned to the calendar of the national development plan.

What are the benefits?

  • Less gaps and overlaps, better value for money, all can claim credit for the impact of the whole strategy, opportunity for more joint initiatives on the ground, more influence vis-à-vis Government and other players, and lower transaction costs for Government. Overall, higher impact aid and more EU influence. 

What have we promised to do? 

  • July 2011 - Informal EU Ministers Meeting - reaches consensus on the need for a single joint EU programming document in each country and for synchronising programming cycles with partner countries.
  • October 2011 - EU DGs Meeting - agrees priority countries for joint programming and asks for subsequent feedback from EU MS’ representatives in-country.
  • November 2011 - EU institutions and EU MS agree a Common Position for the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, committing to joint programming. 
  • January 2012 Joint Commissioners Letter to EU MS Development Ministers recommended taking forward joint programming in 11 priority countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Laos, Mali, Moldova, Rwanda, Tunisia, Ukraine), proposing that feasability first be checked with European Heads of Missions in each country. Other country suggestions were also welcomed. It was stressed that the process should be driven at the partner country level and synchronised to the national planning cycle.   
  • May 2012 - EU Ministers agree on the “Agenda for Change”  - which includes a commitment to take forward joint programming.
  • June 2012- Heads of Mission Reports received from EU Heads of Mission in the 11 priority countires proposed by the Commissioners Letter in January, advising on the potential of taking forward joint programming. Reports were subsequently analysed and responses sent back with the result that joint programming processes are now underway in Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Laos and Rwanda. Several other canddiate countries have subsequently come forward - see the Country Cases page for more. 
  • July 2012 EU changes its rules - to allow synchronisation with timing of partner countries. 
  • December 2012 - EU HQ letter to Heads of Mission in 41 additional countries (Algeria, Armenia, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burma/Myanmar, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Egypt, El Salvador, Georgia, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Timor Leste, Togo, Uganda, Vietnam, West Bank & Gaza Strip, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) asking them to report on the local potential for joint programming.  EU MS HQs were also asked to request their Heads of Mission to participate in the reporting process. 

Commitments on better coordination of EU development aid date back to 1976 however. A concise summary of what has been agreed since 2004 is available here

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