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EU Auditors: Assistance to Central Asia well planned but implementation slow and variable

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p15837_largeThe European Court of Auditors (ECA) has published today (14 January) a Special Report (13/2013), European Union development Assistance to Central Asia. The ECA examined how the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) planned and managed development assistance to Central Asian republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) in the period 2007-2012.

The audit concluded that the Commission and EEAS made serious efforts, under challenging circumstances, to plan and put into effect the programme. This resulted in generally satisfactory planning and allocation of assistance but with slow and variable implementation.

The Commission discussed priorities with partner countries and sought to align its spending plans with their national priorities with a geographical distribution of aid that took into account relative prosperity. Projects chosen for EU support all contributed towards meeting the broad objectives set out in the regional strategy paper. However, the Commission provided assistance to a larger number of sectors than is consistent with best practice.

The Commission made use of a variety of delivery modes in implementing its plans. This included a large number of small projects, which placed a greater administrative burden on delegations. Managing the programme was also made more difficult by the wide range of financial instruments involved and multiple lines of reporting, which makes it difficult to establish how much the EU has spent per sector and per country in Central Asia. Furthermore, the Commission has not attempted to assess the overall administrative costs of its development assistance programme in Central Asia.

The Commission could and should have been more rigorous in managing its budget support programmes in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and tied it to specific anti-corruption measures. Disbursement decisions were based on partner countries’ commitments to reform rather than on progress achieved.

Implementation was slow overall, though with some significant variations. The regional programmes did not achieve a genuine regional dimension; a significant share consisted merely of ‘multi-country’ facilities available to each partner country individually. The Commission set up arrangements to enable it to learn from experience and improve its programmes over time. This process yielded useful results, although in some cases they were not always available on time, and in others useful recommendations were not taken on board. Its reports focused on activity rather than results.

Based on its findings, the ECA recommends that the EEAS and Commission:

  • Design any future regional programmes so that they are likely to achieve a genuine regional dimension;
  • concentrate all assistance provided on a small number of sectors;
  • set up a system for calculating and reporting on the overall administrative cost involved in delivering its development assistance;
  • define and apply robust and objectively verifiable conditions for any continuing budget support programmes, in particular giving sufficient attention to support for anti-corruption mechanisms;
  • improve programme design and delivery in the light of lessons learnt and changing circumstances, and;
  • report on results and impact in a way that allows comparison with plans and objectives.

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#AfricaEuropeAlliance - Boosting sustainable energy investments in #Africa

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A new high-level platform initiative brings together key players in the sustainable energy sector from the public and private sectors of both Europe and Africa.

At the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg organized by the African Development Bank, the European Union and the African Union have launched the EU-Africa high-level platform on sustainable energy investments in Africa.

During his State of the Union speech President Juncker has announced the new 'Africa – Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs' to substantially boost investment in Africa, strengthen trade, create jobs, and invest in education and skills. The high-level platform that was set in motion today represents a concrete action under this alliance to boost strategic investments and strengthen the role of the private sector.

Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska said in Johannesburg: "If we are serious about sustainable energy investments in Africa, we need everybody on board, including the private sector. The high-level platform will pave the way for that: experts from the public, private, academic and financial sectors will jointly discuss challenges and barriers to sustainable investment in this area and help to address them.”

The High Level Platform brings together public, private and financial operators as well as academia from Africa and Europe. They will examine challenges and strategic interests that could accelerate impact, especially for sustainable growth and jobs. The high-level platform aims to attract and boost responsible and sustainable private investments towards sustainable energy in Africa.

A concrete outcome of the high-level platform launch event was the announcement of three streams of work, 1) identify energy investments with high impact for growth and job creation, 2) analyse energy investment risks and propose policy guidelines for a sustainable investment and business environment and 3) boost exchanges between African and European private sector.

Background

By bringing energy actors from the private and public sectors together from both continents, the high-level platform will foster the partnership between European and African businesses, and support the 'Africa- EU Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs'. It will help to make most of opportunities around sustainable energy investments in Africa, as well as to better address challenges and key barriers that currently hinder it.

The Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg took place from 7-9 November 2018 and was organized by the African Development Bank. The Forum is the place where project sponsors, borrowers, lenders, and public and private sector investors come together to accelerate Africa's investment opportunities – especially the energy sector.

The 'Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs' builds on the commitments taken during the African Union – European Union Summit, which took place in November last year in Abidjan, where the two continents agreed to strengthen their partnership. It sets out the key strands of action for a stronger economic agenda for the EU and its African partners.

Access to sustainable energy plays a fundamental role in development. The objective of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to give universal access to affordable, reliable, modern energy services. The EU is determined to help partner countries to increase renewable energy generation and to diversify their energy sources ensuring the transition to a smart, secure, resilient and sustainable energy system for all. Mobilization of the private sector is crucial for this endeavour.

More information

Africa-Europe Alliance

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EU boosts aid to drought affected countries in #HornofAfrica

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The European Commission has announced additional humanitarian assistance of €60 million to help people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, who have been facing critical levels of food insecurity due to severe drought.

This additional assistance brings EU humanitarian aid to the Horn of Africa region (including Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti) to nearly €260m since the beginning of the year.

"The situation in Horn of Africa has drastically deteriorated in 2017 and it keeps getting worse. Millions of people are struggling to meet their and their families' food needs. The risk of famine is real. The European Union has been following the situation closely since the very beginning and progressively increasing aid to the affected populations. This new package will help our humanitarian partners scale up the response further and keep bringing lifesaving assistance to people in need," said Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Commissioner Christos Stylianides.

The newly announced EU assistance will support humanitarian partners already responding to the needs of the affected populations to step up emergency food assistance and treatment of malnutrition. Projects addressing water supply, livestock protection and response to outbreaks will also be supported. The bulk of the funding (€40m) will go to help the most vulnerable in Somalia, while €15m will go to Ethiopia and €5m to Kenya.

Background

Millions of people in the Horn of Africa are affected by food insecurity and water shortages. Vegetation is sparse. Livestock deaths, high food prices and reduced incomes are being reported. As a result of the poorly performing rainy season, the next harvests will be greatly reduced and the situation is expected to worsen in the coming months.

The drought comes on the heels of erratic weather caused by the El Niño phenomenon in 2015-16. In Ethiopia, it prompted the biggest drought response operation in the country's history.

The region also hosts 2.3 million refugees – the majority of whom are from Yemen, South Sudan, and Somalia - and is struggling to meet their increasing needs.

Since 2011, the EU has allocated over €1 billion in humanitarian aid to its partners in the Horn of Africa. EU funding has helped to provide food assistance, health and nutrition care, clean water, sanitation, and shelter to those whose lives are threatened by drought and conflict.

However, aid for the drought-affected populations is complicated by the remoteness of certain areas, as well as by the ongoing violence in Somalia. All parties to the conflict are therefore urged to provide unimpeded humanitarian access to people in need.

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EU Official #Development Assistance reaches highest level ever

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New figures confirm that the European Union and its member states have consolidated their place as the world's leading aid donor in 2016.

Preliminary OECD figures show that Official Development Assistance (ODA) provided by the EU and its member states has reached €75.5 billion in 2016. This constitutes an 11% increase compared to 2015 levels. The EU's assistance has increased for the fourth year in a row and reached its highest level to date. In 2016, EU collective ODA represented 0.51% of EU Gross National Income (GNI), having increased from 0.47% in 2015. This is significantly above the 0.21% average of non-EU countries that are members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

The European Union and its Member States have hence again consolidated their place as the world's leading aid donor in 2016.

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: “I am proud that the EU remains the world's leading provider of Official Development Assistance – a clear proof of our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We call on all development actors to re-double their efforts to do likewise. And we do not stop there. Leveraging private sector investments, helping mobilise domestic resources and intensifying joint efforts with EU member states, we seek to make the most of all financing sources for development."

In 2016, five EU Member States provided 0.7% or more of their Gross National Income (GNI) in Official Development Assistance: Luxembourg(1.00%), Sweden (0.94%), Denmark (0.75%), Germany (0.70%), who has reached the target for the first time, and the United Kingdom(0.70%). Sixteen EU member states increased their ODA compared to their GNI, while 5 member states reduced their ODA and 7 remained at the same level as last year. In total, 20 member states increased their ODA nominally by €10.9 billion, while the decreases in 6 others amounted to €3.4 billion.

In 2016, faced with an unprecedented migration crisis, the EU and its member states were able to increase both their support to refugees as well as their 'development aid' to developing countries. The overall increase in European Union Official Development Assistance, with €7.6 billion, was greater than the surge in in-donor refugee costs €1.9 billion. Only 25% of the growth of EU Collective ODA between 2015 and 2016 was due to in-country refugee costs, hence, there was growth in ODA, even if these costs are excluded. EU collective ODA excluding in-country refugee costs grew from €59.1 billion in 2015 to €64.8 billion in 2016, constituting a 10% increase.

Background

Official Development Assistance remains a vital source of financing for many developing countries, but it is clear that efforts have to go much further. This vision, of how development financing should evolve to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is agreed in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda[1] (AAAA).

In support of this agenda, the European Union (EU) seeks to increaseresources for sustainable development, including through:

-                 Domestic resource mobilisation

-                 Leveraging private sector resources at domestic and international level to mobilise finance for the development of the private sector

-                 Stepping up joint programming efforts between the EU and its Member States as a way to improve efficiency, ownership and efficacy of development cooperation.

In 2005, the EU and its member states pledged to increase their collective ODA to 0.7% of EU Gross National Income (GNI) by 2015. Even though the economic crisis and severe budgetary pressures in most EU member states meant that the EU did not meet this ambitious target in 2015, there has been continuous real growth in European ODA of almost 40% since 2002. In May 2015, the European Council reaffirmed its commitment to reaching this target before 2030. The EU also undertook efforts to collectively meet the ODA target of 0.15-0.20% of GNI to Least developed Countries in the short term, and to reach 0.20% of ODA/GNI to LDCs by 2030.

The ODA pledge is based on individual targets. Member states which joined the EU before 2002 reaffirmed their commitment to achieve the 0.7% ODA/GNI target, taking into consideration budgetary circumstances, whilst those which have achieved that target committed themselves to remain at or above that target. Member states which joined the EU after 2002 committed to strive to increase their ODA/GNI to 0.33%.

The data published today is based on preliminary information reported by the EU Member States to the OECD and to the EU Commission. EU collective ODA consists of the total ODA spending of the 28 EU Member States and the ODA of EU institutions not attributed to individual Member States (i.e. own resources of the European Investment Bank).

In-donor refugee costs reported by EU Member States rose from €8.8 billion (or 12.9% of collective EU ODA in 2015) to €10.7 billion (or 14.2% of collective EU ODA in 2016). The increase of EU ODA dedicated to finance in-donor refugee costs reflects the fact that in 2015 and 2016, many EU countries, faced with an unprecedented increase in refugees, provided vital emergency assistance and support to large numbers of refugees within their borders. Most of the related costs[2] can be recorded as ODA only for the first year of a refugee's stay.

There are 30 members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), including the European Union, which acts as a full member of the committee.

More information:

Factsheet: Publication of new figures on 2016 Official Development Assistance

Annex: Achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: Putting together the means of implementation; highlight on EU early achievements in three key areas

OECD Press release

[1] The Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) was agreed at the third United Nations International Conference on Financing for Development in July 2015

[2] See: http://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/38429349.pdf, line I.A.8.2 Refugees in donor countries (code 1820)

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