UK civil society raises concerns about the future of EU-UK development cooperation
Civil society organizations have raised concerns about access to funding streams and shrinking influence on key development issues after the UK's official exit from the European Union on January 31, 2020. The UK has now entered a transition period, while it negotiates its future relationship with the EU. The UK hopes to have concluded negotiations by the end of 2020. While both sides have indicated a desire to maintain cooperation on development assistance, there has been no decision on what this will look like in practice.
Some civil society groups have highlighted the lack of clarity regarding whether UK-based NGOs will be eligible for the new round of ECHO (EU humanitarian) funding in 2020. Similarly, there are questions about whether they will be allowed to apply for Framework Partnership Agreements under the EU’s next multi-annual financial framework 2021-27. Other civil society organizations fear that the UK may lose its influence in areas such as the Sahel, where the EU has taken the lead on development efforts. There are also worries about the UK getting sidelined in climate change discussions, given that the EU has adopted a unified response which enables member states to wield greater power on the international stage.
Speaking to the UK parliament, a representative from the Department for International Development (DFID) noted that any decision regarding whether the UK will continue to work through the EU to achieve its development assistance objectives will be based on a value for money assessment.