The new European Consensus on Development

Last November, the European Commission issued a proposal for a new European Consensus on Development. This document serves as the basis for the current discussions among European Union (EU) Member States to replace the European Consensus on Development (agreed in 2005) and the 2011 Agenda for Change. It is placed in the context of the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which shows that the Commission is willing to join the global effort to implement the Sustainable Development Goals in the Global South.

The Commission proposal is structured on the basis of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s summary of the 2030 Agenda into 5 “Ps”: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships. In its proposal, the Commission explains how the EU would contribute to each of these “Ps” and reaffirms both the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda that includes the commitments of the international community on how to fund and realise the 2030 Agenda. In the proposal, the Commission suggests that Member States would also adopt and follow the Consensus. It also hints that the European Parliament and Member States will jointly agree on a statement at the Foreign Affairs Council in May, which will subsequently be presented at the UN High-Level Political Forum in July 2017. The European Parliament’s position on the European Consensus on Development was adopted last February.

The new Consensus will be very important because it will outline the EU strategy for achieving the 2030 Agenda’s goals and targets, including how the funds for development cooperation in the EU budget and in the European Development Fund, managed by the EU institutions, will be used. Moreover, it will impact the current and future Multiannual Financial Framework and development spending for each of the funding regional and thematic instruments. In the proposal, the Commission recommends priority spending on least developed countries and fragile states, and reaffirms its policy on “graduation” (which says that those developing countries that get richer will no longer receive Official Development Aid (ODA) from the EU). The Commission also proposes to use ODA to leverage other forms of development finance, such as private investment or tax revenue collection. The Commission commits to the UN’s longstanding, but still unmet, ODA target of 0.7% of gross national income and makes clear references to the High-Level meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (see also the article: Development effectiveness: what happened in Nairobi?).

The Commission proposal also commits to Policy Coherence for Development (PCD). On 6 February, at the invitation of the Maltese EU presidency, Caritas joined a Concord delegation that discussed the need to apply PCD to migration and development. It stated that development policies had moved away from development objectives, such as poverty eradication and tackling inequality to include short-term migration objectives preventing immigration and promoting return and readmission.

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