Idag var jag medarrangör och talare på ett seminarium om EU:s finansiering av olika NGO:er i Mellanöstern. I mitt inledningsanförande tog jag bland annat upp det problematiska i att EU finansierar enskilda organisationer som verkar emot av unionen antagna principer som demokrati, fred, frihet och samförståndsanda.
Flera av talarna tog upp det faktum att mycket mer finns att önska av EU:s biståndspolitik. Klaus-Heiner Lehne från the European Court of Auditors strök under vikten av kontroll, övervakning och konditionalitet för biståndet. Kriterier som är viktiga inte minst vad gäller budgetstödet till den palestinska myndigheten vilket Lehnes uppdragsgivare visade i en omfattande studie 2013.
Mitt tal i sin helhet på engelska finns att läsa här:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, thank you all for coming, and thank you Mrs Manescu for the privilege to co-host this important event.
EU foreign and security policy, which has developed gradually over many years, enables the EU to speak and act as one in world affairs.
Acting together gives the EU’s 28 members far greater strength than they would have if each pursued its own policies. As the world’s largest donor of development finance, the EU is uniquely placed for cooperation with developing countries. The total demographic and economic weight of the 28-nation bloc makes it a major power. It is the world’s biggest trader. The trend towards joint foreign policy decisions strengthens its arm. The idea behind this is a good one – together we are stronger.
This event will partly focus on the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) that governs the EU:s relations with 16 of its southern and eastern neighbours. Working together in these areas is of course something very positive. EU:s soft power is one of its strongest assets. But as always when dealing with tax money we have to make sure that the EU is not giving with one hand – while taking with the other. Much has to be done to avoid this.
I believe that the EU needs to focus on a couple of things to improve its policy in this area:
First, Work with the private sector, through Public-Private Partnerships, and engage the private sector in sustainable development projects and programmes. This could bring in much bigger funds than official development assistance, but would of course needs to be done within a very transparent and well managed regulatory framework.
Second, Build on the development-security link to make sure that there are coherent policies. There can be no development without peace and vice versa. Same with good governance: fight corruption, invest in stable, transparent and efficient institutions.
Third, Combat Illicit Financial Flows. IFF takes more money away from developing countries than what comes in from development assistance. There is a UN high panel led by Kofi Annan on this issue and the EU needs to focus more on this.
Forth, Invest in democracy: support democratic institutions, stimulate the growth of civil society.
Regarding this last point, further on in the discussions we will hear some examples on how the EU is acting inconsistent when it comes to aiding organizations that run programs that are in conflict with the official EU policies. One example is the controversial aid to pro-Palestinian NGO:s, acting contradictory with the values of the European Union. This is not aiding democracy – its undermining democracy.
Instead we need to support and facilitate activities and projects that foster respect for human rights and democratic values in the different societies. At the same time: whereas we are engaged in state-building measures with funds and expertise, we should link all the EU funds to clear conditionality. As political representatives, as decision makers, we have a responsibility – not only to European tax payers, but also to people who are in need of humanitarian support. For the sake of the most vulnerable, the most affected, we are obliged to make sure that development aid from the EU is channelled in an accurate manner – to organizations and stakeholders that promote and stands for peace, democracy and human rights. That is the single most effective way, and the most candid way, to assist people in need.
With these introductory remarks; again, welcome to this important seminar.