Major European development banks to provide proposals to enhance coordination on European development finance

Representatives of EU Member States have invited the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to submit concrete proposals on measures to enhance coordination on development finance by the end of January 2020. 
Member State representatives in the Council of the EU had previously commissioned a report by a ‘high-level wise persons group’ on the future of the European financial architecture for development. The report recommended several measures for reforming the existing architecture to increase coordination and to improve development impact. The Council, in turn, adopted recommendations aimed at making the current institutional set up more flexible, coherent, and strategic.

The Council has now called for proposals from EIB and EBRD on implementing the report’s recommendations. It has also invited the European Commission and the European External Action Service to report on the progress made on various measures to strengthen the development finance architecture at the end of January 2020. 
Press release - Council of the EU
Council conclusions on strengthening the European financial architecture for development - Council of the EU
Report on the future of the European financial architecture for development - EU high-level Group of wise persons


Council of the EU calls for accelerated action toward achieving SDGs

In an assessment of Europe’s progress on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Council of the EU called for accelerated action both within the EU and in other parts of the world in order to fulfill the goals of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Council emphasized the need for the EU and its member states to play a leading role both by stepping up action within the EU and in supporting partner countries to implement the SDGs. The Council also called for action on the SDGs to be in alignment with the Paris Agreement on climate change. The Council’s conclusions were in response to the 2019 edition of Eurostat’s 'Monitoring report on progress towards the SDGs in an EU context'.

Council conclusions on a sustainable Europe by 2030 - Council of the EU

2019 SDGs monitoring report - Eurostat


European Council President to propose special February summit for EU governments to reach agreement on long-term EU budget

During the European Council meeting on December 12-13, 2019, heads of state of EU member states will discuss the next long-term EU budget, the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF). However, an additional budget summit in February 2020 may be required for EU member states to reach an agreement. 
Currently, EU member states remain divided over the compromise proposal put forward by the Finnish Presidency which seeks to strike a middle ground between net contributors that want a frugal budget and net recipients that hope to grow the budget. The Finnish Presidency proposed an MFF with decreased spending on development and research and development compared to the European Commission’s initial proposal. The European Parliament MFF negotiating team reacted to the Finnish proposal by calling it “well below Parliament’s and citizens’ expectations”, and Euractiv reported that Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has criticized the “severe cuts in the proposal”. 
European Council President Charles Michel is expected to propose holding a special European Council summit in February 2020 for leaders to move towards an agreement on the MFF. However, according to most EU officials, the MFF is not likely to be agreed upon until the second half of 2020 under the German EU Presidency of the Council. 
News article - Reuters
News article - Euractiv
Finnish Presidency proposal analysis - European Parliament


Day before UK general election, race remains close

The UK will hold a general election on December 12, 2019. Latest polling indicates that the Conservative party has a 10.4-point lead on the Labour Party. The gap has narrowed over the last couple of weeks. Despite the Conservative party’s consistent lead in polls, the race remains tight as they need to retain all the seats they currently have and win nine more additional seats to secure a working majority in Parliament.  

There are three possible outcomes according to pollsters – a Conservative majority, a hung parliament (where no party wins a majority) or a Labour majority government (by far the least likely at this stage according to polling).

In the event of a hung parliament, the Conservative Party will get the first attempt at forming a new government. However, this will be challenging as the Prime Minister has fallen out with his former allies, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland over his Brexit deal. The Liberal-Democrats, who also formed a coalition government with the Conservatives in 2010, have also stated they will not form a coalition with the Conservatives.

If the current government cannot gain a majority, the leader of the opposition will be given a chance to form one. The Labour party could form a coalition with the Scottish National Party. The Liberal Democrats have ruled out going into a coalition with Jeremy Corbyn, the current leader of the UK Labour Party.

News article - The Guardian

United Kingdom

Canada headlines Alliance for Multilateralism Conference

On December 10, 2019, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne, will attend the Alliance for Multilateralism conference in Berlin. The conference theme is 'Advocating Human Rights in the 21st Century'. Champagne will deliver the keynote address which will highlight the importance of the multilateral system in defending and promoting universal human rights.

The Alliance for Multilateralism is an informal alliance created by Canada, France, and Germany, consisting of nations who share a respect for a rules-based international order and who value global cooperation for tackling the most pressing issues facing the world. Its first official event was held in September of 2019 at the UN General Assembly.

Press release- Global Affairs Canada


Sweden hosts seminar with Nobel Memorial Prize laureates in economics

On December 11, 2019, the Swedish minister for international development cooperation, Peter Eriksson, will host a seminar with this year's Nobel Memorial Prize winners in economics, Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer. Minister Eriksson will moderate a conversation between the three laureates and the director-general for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Authority (Sida), Carin Jämtin, regarding implications of their research on poverty alleviation for implementing Swedish development assistance.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)


Australian Foreign Affairs Minister announces consultation process to guide new Australian development policy

Australia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, and Alex Hawke, Minister for Overseas Development and the Pacific, have announced consultation arrangements on new international development policy. Input is sought from members of the public, the development community, partners, and stakeholders in Australia and overseas. These submissions close on January 31, 2020, and are limited to a maximum of five pages.

An expert panel has been announced to advise Ministers and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the development of the new policy and associated performance framework. The six members have backgrounds in foreign assistance, diplomacy, overseas trade, and NGO work. The Chair, Dennis Richardson was previously Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Secretary of the Department of Defence.

Government website: DFAT


Germany announces launch of Natural Disaster Fund

At the twenty-fifth UN Climate Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain, parliamentary state secretary to the federal ministry for economic cooperation and development (BMZ), Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, announced the launch of a Natural Disaster Fund (NDF) against climate risks in developing markets. NDF is a joint initiative of BMZ, KfW Development Bank, and two insurance companies, Global Parametrics and Hannover Re. The BMZ is contributing €25 million (US$28 million) to the Fund which is matched by Hannover Re with US$50 million (US$55 million). These commitments are aimed to protect around 100 million people living in climate disaster-affected areas.

Press release – Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (in German)


German Social Democrats seek concessions from conservative coalition partners

The German Social Democratic Party (SDP) held its annual national party convention, confirming the new leadership of Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken. Walter-Borjans and Esken have been skeptical about remaining in the current governing coalition, and have said they would seek concessions from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on increasing the minimum wage, climate policy, and investment.

Video – Deutsche Welle (in English)

News article – Sueddeutsche Zeitung (in German)


Canada attends Egypt's Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne, is representing Canada at the first-ever Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa on December 11- 12, 2019 in Aswan, Egypt. Champagne will specifically highlight Canada’s continued commitment to sustainability and meaningful engagement with African partners.

The Forum is titled 'An Agenda for Sustainable Peace, Security and Development in Africa'. The event is hosted by the government of Egypt in its capacity as the President of the African Union. African leaders, as well as leaders from strategic partners Canada, Japan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, will attend, along with the members of the private sector, civil society, and other stakeholders. 

Press release- Global Affairs Canada