EU Council approves guidelines on non-discrimination in external action

Reaffirming its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Council of the European Union adopted conclusions approving EU human rights guidelines for non-discrimination in external action. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights already prohibits any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, color, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or other opinions, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age, or sexual orientation. The Council's adoption of the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Non-Discrimination in External Action acknowledges that existing charter and pledges to use it and other guidelines in support of a rights-based approach to development cooperation. The EU and its member states are responsible for guideline implementation.

Press release – EU


Swedish minister of development to announce increased support to Eastern Europe

Swedish Minister for Development Cooperation Peter Ericsson is visiting Armenia and Georgia on March 19-22 to deepen bilateral relations with the countries and to mark the 10-year anniversary of the establishment of the Eastern Partnership (EaP). The EaP  was created by Sweden and Poland in 2009 as part of the EU Neighbourhood Policy and plays a central part in deepening relations between the six partner countries of the EaP and the EU. Ericsson will announce during the visit an increased allocation from the ODA budget to Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Turkey from SEK750 million (US$81 million) to approximately SEK1 billion (US$108 million), of which SEK150 million (US$16 million) will be directed specifically to programs promoting democratic governance.

In addition, he is expected to announce a new bilateral development agreement with Armenia. This reflects increased focus on democratic governance as a priority area for Swedish ODA under the new minister.  

Press release - Swedish government (in Swedish)

EU Sweden

Dutch PM Mark Rutte receives EU's Donald Tusk in The Hague

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte met European Council President Donald Tusk at the Catshuis in the Hague on March 15, 2019. The consultation took place in preparation for the two-day European Council summit on March 21-22, 2019. Brexit was a central part of the conversation, given an impending deadline. Earlier, Foreign Minister Stef Blok said that the Netherlands was "supportive" of a delay to reaching a deal on the terms of the UK's exit. 

Press release - government of the Netherlands (in Dutch) 

EU Netherlands

Study from Eurodad finds privatization may harm gender equality

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are being promoted by donor governments and international financial institutions to fund social services and infrastructure projects around the world. Eurodad, the European network on debt and development, has synthesized available research on PPPs and concluded they may exacerbate gender inequality by: (1) constraining resources that otherwise could support state capacity to deliver gender-transformative public services and infrastructure, or to promote decent work for women; (2) restricting access to services for the most marginalized by elevating accountability to shareholders, thus undermining contribution to social goals such as gender equality; and (3) limiting provision of "decent work" for women within PPP-operated projects. This briefing aims to contribute to the growing civil society debate about PPPs.

Study – Eurodad


EU-Africa Task Force for Rural Africa releases agenda

The Task Force for Rural Africa launched by the European Commission in May 2018 has delivered an agri-food and rural agenda for the new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs. The report calls for Africa and the EU to develop partnership at three levels: people-to-people, business-to-business, and government-to-government, with multi-stakeholder dialogue at all levels, starting locally. The Commission will follow-up with actions including: twinning and exchange programs between African and European agricultural bodies; AU-EU Agribusiness platform; innovation hubs to support ‘agripreneurs' and the African agri-food sector.

The Commission will launch an online consultation to gather direct feedback from African stakeholders. This consultation and the report will feed into the third AU-EU agricultural ministerial conference in Rome, planned for June 2019.

Press release – European Commission


European Development Days planning underway

Planning for European Development Days (EDD), a major gathering of European and international actors in global development, has been launched publicly with a community meeting during which the European Commission provided an overview of the themes and processes. The overarching EDD topic is 'Inequalities: trends and challenges in the context of globalization'. Sub-topics include 'Why inequalities matter for sustainable development', 'Understanding the structural causes of inequalities', and 'Working better together through more effective policies to address inequalities'. Within each of these sub-topics, there's varying focus on people, prosperity, partnership, peace, and environment. Interested parties may submit session proposals until March 24, 2019.

Website – European Development Days


EU meets with leaders of Pacific nations to advance negotiations on new Cotonou Agreement

To advance negotiations to modernize relations between the EU and 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific (ACP) and create a successor to the current Cotonou Agreement, chief EU negotiators met with Pacific leaders. They aimed to lay the groundwork for the creation of a EU-Pacific regional pillar within the future agreement. The Cotonou Agreement currently governing EU-ACP relations expires in 2020. Political negotiations on a new ACP-EU Partnership were launched in New York on September 28, 2018. Current talks mainly focus on the so-called common foundation at EU-ACP level, i.e., the values and principles bringing the EU and ACP countries together and the strategic priority areas for future work together.

The future agreement will center on three regional pillars to focus on action addressing each region's specific needs. The EU and ACP countries together represent more than half of all UN member countries and unite over 1.5 billion people. 

Press release – EU


UK outlines planning for global development in event of no-deal Brexit

Bond, the network of UK NGOs, has published a recent letter from Nick Dyer, Director-General for Economic Development at the Department for International Development (DFID), that outlines DFID's plans in the event the UK exits the EU with no separation deal. The letter is in response to growing concerns from Bond on the impact of a no-deal Brexit on UK development cooperation. 

The letter clarifies UK NGOs eligibility for EU funding in the case of a no-deal Brexit across a number of EU funding instruments. It also recognizes concerns around currency fluctuations as a result of Brexit, but notes that under DFID contracts currency liabilities are the service provider's responsibility. Finally, the letter assures Bond members that while a number of DFID staff have been called upon to support the UK government's overall Brexit planning processes, there will be sufficient staff in place to maintain quality programming in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Letter - Bond

EU United Kingdom

European Centre for Development Policy and Management urges caution in design of innovative financial architecture in next EU budget

The proposed 2021 to 2027 EU budget introduces an innovative financial architecture to “crowd in” private sector investment from outside the EU, based on three pillars:

  1. The European Fund for Sustainable Development-plus (EFSD+);
  2. A unified budgetary guarantee – the External Action Guarantee (EAG); and
  3. Financial assistance.

Analysis by the European Centre for Development Policy and Management (ECDPM) expresses concerns about the specificity of this proposal, including its governance, which currently delegates great power to the European Commission during implementation. The ECDPM urges careful attention to systemic issues related to the EU architecture for investment outside the EU. The issues include the role of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the coherence of EFSD+ with broader reform ambitions for the EU architecture for external investment.

Website – ECDPM


EU launches prize competition for development journalism

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) has launched the Lorenzo Natali Media Prize competition to recognize excellence in reporting on development issues, inequality, human rights, and poverty eradication.

The 2019 prize includes: 

  1. Grand Prize: open to journalists whose media headquarters is located in one of the more than 160 partner countries with which the EU engages in development cooperation
  2. Europe Prize: open to journalists whose media headquarters is located in one of the countries of the EU
  3. Best Emerging Journalist Prize: open to journalists under 30 years old whose media is headquartered in any country where DG DEVCO and the Directorate General for the European Neighborhood provide development assistance, as well as in the EU Member States

The winner in each category will receive US$11,000. The winner of the Best Emerging Journalist Prize category will also be offered a work experience with a media partner.

Website – EU