Response to the Green Paper on Relations between the European Union
and the ACP Countries on the Eve of the 21st Century
1. The Debate
The Development Studies Association warmly welcomes the public debate on the future of the Lomé Convention initiated by the European Commission in the Member States through meetings with concerned individuals and through the "Green Paper on relations between the European Union and the ACP countries on the eve of the 21st century." We hope that such wide consultations on the direction of development policy will continue. The development activities of the EU and the Lomé Convention need to be better known to the European public.
Greater transparency and public accessibility of EU reports, aid evaluations, and statistics is also desirable. An annual report on all EU development activities is needed, including adequate statistical data.
Similar open debates in the ACP countries should be encouraged.
As the Green Paper notes (p. 23), "ACP-EU relations are a part of the international community's overall strategy to reduce poverty in the world." At a time when bilateral donors like Japan, the US and UK are reducing their Official Development Assistance, it is increasingly important for Europe to show leadership in this field and to maintain or increase its financial commitment to development.
It is widely agreed that the Lomé Convention, with its many accretions since l975, has become too broad in its coverage, with too many complicated procedures and instruments to administer properly. The quality of EU aid on the ground has been of concern. In the interests of improving and streamlining the Convention, we recommend that:
; the Sysmin programme be abolished, its funding being returned to project aid.
; the Stabex system be revised and improved in consultation with the ACP in
order to address the problems of the commodities sector.
; conflict prevention, while a worthwhile activity, should not be added to the
Lomé Convention or development programmes, but should be left to actions
under the Common Foreign and Security Policy in cooperation with other
organizations such as the UN and NGOs.
; project management should be streamlined and programmes which have
consistently performed badly such as integrated rural development projects
should be replaced by those which perform better. The EU should aim to
transfer decision-making and management for projects gradually to the ACP
countries, to be accompanied by a process of institutional development and
on-going capacity building, and should gradually shift to budgetary aid where
such aid will be used effectively.
; in accordance with the aims of the Copenhagen summit, 20% of aid should
explicitly be devoted to social uses.
; explicit targets for poverty reduction in each ACP country should be set on the
basis of detailed social, political and economic baseline surveys, upon which
programmes can be properly designed and monitored.
; in order to achieve effective management of projects, more decentralised and
transparent decision-making is needed.
4. The ACP Group
The Development Studies Association recognizes that the European Commission has been severely critical of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group and that it is true to say the Group has not always functioned effectively. It is also noted that actions or calls for dismantling the Group arise solely from the EU side. Therefore, in the interests of fostering greater pan-regional cooperation and partnership among developing countries which can, as in the case of the Commonwealth or the G77 have a useful role, the ACP Group should be preserved. The EU should concentrate on capacity building for the ACP Group, not on dismantling it.
Since not all of the EU's dialogues with other regions have been successful, notably the Euro-Arab dialogue of the l970s, and other regional dialogues may founder, maintaining a viable, ongoing political relationship the ACP Group should be a priority.
5. Gender Analysis
The EU and ACP have taken slow but positive steps in recognizing the role and contribution of women in society and development, although this was not fully evident in the Green Paper. We recommend that progress in this area should continue with an enhanced commitment and training of administrators and of field workers in gender awareness.
This occupies a more prominent place in the Green Paper than does the role of women. Still the Green Paper gives the impression that the EU has fine objectives (p. 36) "environmental concerns must be integrated into the design, implementation and evaluation of all policies, programs and projects" but admits it has very little idea as to how to carry these out. As in the case of gender, training of administrators and field workers in environmental concerns is needed.
The aim of "suitable integration of the ACP group into the world economy" (p. 38) in a phased and equitable way should be maintained and further effort directed towards achieving this goal.
The Lomé trade provisions have been based on non-reciprocal preferences for the developing countries and special commitments to the producers of certain products, notably sugar and bananas.
Despite pressure to change these for free trade areas or GSP preferences, there would seem to be few benefits to the ACP from such changes. Proposals which differentiate among the ACP or aim at breaking up their regional grouping should not be enacted. Instead, ACP-equivalent trade preferences should be extended to other LLDCs under a separate heading as has occurred with the Compex system.
As the successful continued operation of the banana protocol is in doubt under WTO decisions, the EU should make every effort to help the banana producing countries to maintain their earnings through exports or other activities.
Basically, the "enhanced status quo" option seems best to sustain the ACP Grouping and encourage ACP trade growth. At the same time, ACP countries should be encouraged to open and liberalize their domestic markets in a realistic way, to protect investment (see below) and to seek trade-related assistance under project aid. The EU should be flexible in its trade negotiations with South Africa, which have not been concluded, recognizing the considerable economic and social problems faced by that country.
8. Investment Protection and Promotion
The EU proposal (p. 42) that the ACP countries should cooperate to improve investor confidence in them is sensible. The interests of women, workers, and the environment should also be taken into account here.
The EU should also consider the US example, in the case of Africa, of introducing tax credits for firms which invest in ACP countries. The role and effectiveness of the Centre for Industrial Development (CID) should be reviewed.
9. Consistency and coordination
The EU recognizes the problem of consistency between its internal policies, especially the CAP, and its development aims. However, the Green Paper makes no progress on this issue. The Green Paper argues the EU cannot be bound by any international commitments regarding its internal policies and that the various declarations of the Treaty of Maastricht are sufficient. The Community could at least be called upon to review its policies carefully, to have a consultation mechanism with its partners, and take action swiftly when the aims of consistency are violated. In terms of the coordination of the development policies of the Member States, the EU does not aim to harmonize them but sees benefits in pluralism. However, more attention should be given to aligning the development strategies of the Member States in the longer term while monitoring and coordinating their activities in the shorter term. A new committee or forum for such coordination should be established in cooperation with the Development Council of Ministers.
10. Human rights and good governance agenda
The EU's proposals for realistic conditionality on structural adjustment for all donors (p. 46) are to be welcomed.
The EU should continue to focus on positive measures to improve human rights in ACP countries. The results of human rights projects should be carefully evaluated. Nevertheless, the EU should resist the temptation evidenced in the Green Paper for a pendulum swing from non-intervention in undesirable regimes in the l970s to trying to remodel the ACP institutional and legal structures, but without any clear model (p.36).
Coherence requires the removal of the debt overhang for all developing countries. The EU should integrate measures to reduce debts to manageable levels into all of its development policies.
The Development Studies Association welcomes the enhanced role proposed for NGOs in the EU's development programme. However, the work of NGOs must be properly integrated into the development process. The EU should carefully select its NGO partners.
Furthermore, attention must be given to upgrading the management, transparency, coordination and evaluation of NGO activities.