Refugee costs: the EU member states will have to take their chances

EU_FlagNov 10th – Ecofin discussed how to manage refugee costs again today.  Minsters heard from the European Commission, which was asked to look into the matter in early Sept. There seems to be some kind of general agreement (http://bit.ly/1SfMRw4) that budget flexibility within the stability pact framework is possible as it is acknowledged the circumstances are exceptional. But, the actual finacial impact of the refugee costs will assessed on ad-hoc basis, by means of ex post analysis and on a 2014 base line; such decisions apply for 2015/2016. This approach may implications for those country that were already planning on fiscal expansion for next year: a more conservative attitudinal would be advisable lest they would face the risk of more of deficit procedures due to costs the Commission is not recognising eligible in an ex post assessment. ldf

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Cooperazione allo sviluppo: proposte di riforma in vista del Forum da Dassù, Pistelli e Migliore.

ActionAid ha presentato la sesta edizione del rapporto “L’Italia e la lotta alla povertà”, dedicato a una valutazione delle politiche di cooperazione allo sviluppo dell’ultima legislatura, come ben ricorda il sottotitolo: “2008 – 2012: cinque anni vissuti pericolosamente”. ActionAid ha invitato a discuterne rappresentanti delle istituzioni, delle forze politiche e delle organizzazioni della società civile in un incontro il 26 settembre a Roma, a pochi giorni dall’apertura del Forum della Cooperazione Internazionale.

Il Sottosegretario agli Affari Esteri Marta Dassù è intervenuta portando un chiaro messaggio di impegno e cambiamento di rotta per il futuro della cooperazione allo sviluppo. Marta Dassù ha sottolineato che la nomina del Ministro Riccardi è già oggi un indice dell’importanza che il governo Monti attribuisce alla politica di cooperazione e integrazione. Il declino dell’APS negli ultimi anni è il risultato combinato della mancanza di risorse finanziarie e dell’atteggiamento culturale che insiste sulla teoria, ormai sorpassata in ambito internazionale, dell’inutilità degli aiuti. La battaglia è innanzitutto culturale, e l’organizzazione del forum sulla cooperazione previsto per il 1-2 ottobre a Milano è una delle tante armi che il Ministro Riccardi sta utilizzando per portare la lotta alla povertà al centro dell’agenda politico-culturale. Il Sottosegretario ha poi delineato il futuro possibile per una cooperazione più forte con: più risorse dedicate, maggiore razionalizzazione e un nuovo sistema di governance. Il governo Monti ha recepito la raccomandazione contenuta nel rapporto di ActionAid di invertire la tendenza alla riduzione dei fondi pubblici per lo sviluppo. Il documento di programmazione di fatto prevede per il 2013 uno stanziamento che eleva del 28% i fondi disponibili, e per il triennio 2013-2015 sono previsti aumenti annuali del 10%. Il nodo della limitazione delle risorse, per il Sottosegretario, rimane un paradosso per l’esigenza di dover combinare la riduzione della spesa pubblica e di rafforzare la politica estera e di cooperazione allo stesso tempo. Le risorse andrebbero razionalizzate: si tratta di spendere meglio focalizzandosi su priorità, tematiche e geografiche. Il nostro Paese per la sua storia e la sua posizione geopolitica ha una responsabilità geografica su mediterraneo e Africa. Per quanto riguarda il sistema di governance, lo scenario auspicato dal MAE è quello di un fondo unico per la democrazia e lo sviluppo, aperto a contributi dal settore privato e gestito da un comitato intergovernativo possibilmente con una agenzia tecnica.

Per Lapo Pistelli, responsabile esteri del Partito Democratico,  la priorità consiste nel metter in sicurezza l’impianto della riforma della  legge 49/87 entro il termine di questa legislatura. Questo lo scenario disegnato dal PD per modificare l’hardware della cooperazione: creazione di un fondo unico, una regia politica unitaria che sieda in Consiglio dei ministri per assicurare la coerenza delle politiche oggi frammentate tra i diversi attori, idealmente un ministro ma in tempo di tagli alle istituzioni pensare di portare a casa un ministro sembra fuori luogo. Una volta installato l’hardware sarà il software della politica e dell’economia a decidere quante risorse e la qualità.

Gennaro Migliore, responsabile esteri di SEL, si interroga se i tempi siano maturi per mettere in sicurezza l’hardware o ci sia la necessità di ridefinire il vocabolario della cooperazione, che preferisce chiamare “partenariato”. Non è convinto neanche sulla retorica dell’austerità “sono talmente scarse le risorse di questo capitolo di spesa che il loro incremento non modificherebbe di alcun che il problema economico del nostro paese, è un problema di volontà politica. Se si raddoppiassero le risorse gestite dalla DGCS , il bilancio dello stato non cambierebbe nemmeno del 1% bilancio dello stato”.

La voce che ha concluso il dibattito è stata quella della società civile con Egizia Petroccione (CINI/LINK/AOI/), che ha ribadito l’impegno delle organizzazioni italiane per la lotta alla povertà e per la lobby sulle istituzioni, con la richiesta di una nuova architettura istituzionale insieme a scelte precise favore del partenariato e concertazione, oltre che per maggiori di risorse pubbliche dedicate per la cooperazione.

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Towards the new partnership for effective development cooperation. Are donors leading by example?

May 21, first day of the last meeting of the Post Busan Interim Group. Delegates looked into key issues covering the size and the membership of the Steering Group, the role of the co chairs and global monitoring system. It was a very learning session relative to at least four key issues:

a)     the chair of the meeting and the many delegates stated that monitoring is not so important; the new Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation is rather about accountability though in the fashion of dialogue and knowledge sharing

b)     the peculiar status of the new donors is confirmed. The art 2 of the Busan declaration is now complemented by a new provision that reads that the new providers of development cooperation are not expected to participate in the global monitoring system proposed in this initial Partnership arrangement

c)     ministers are not supposed to focus on more than a handful of indicators. For these reason, the number of global indicators will kept to the very minimum and certain key issues such as fragmentation and Programmed Based Approaches may well be ditched

d)     enabling environment for CSOs (and the private sector too) needs to be refined and circumscribed into the development cooperation agenda only

In my personal math b+c means that donors in general are not very much at ease with targets and monitoring. But if donors are not committing, why partner countries should?

On the bright side, there were some gains in terms of representation of stakeholders: partner countries will have now 5 seats, provider of cooperation 3. The second day of the PBIG meeting will definitely be another learning opportunity.

ldf

2011: the Italian aid puzzling year.

The year 2011 will not pass unnoticed: Italy started with one of worst ODA performances among the DAC donors and ended up with a Development Minister in place for the first time ever. The cabinet post was created in the wake of a government change of guard from Berlusconi to Monti: it was a largely unexpected move for several good reasons, last but not least  the national dire economic situation. The Minster’s remit comprises more agendas (family policies, migration and integration, youth, and drug abuse control); but the focus on development cooperation marks a turning point.

Italian ODA performance was puzzling for at least another reason too: ODA levels went up from 0,15% to 0,19%. How could it possible that Italian aid moved up when Berlusconi Ministers were so prone to cutting ODA down? The Ministry of Foreign Affairs allocations plunged from about 700 ml euros in 2008 to nearly 90 million euro in 2011. The trick is not hard to explain once you look at the right things: 30% of 2011 bilateral aid is refugee costs, which increased by a factor of 100 due to the Arabic springs crisis. Also, don’t forget that another 36% is debt relief. Italian ODA is now heading for 0,12% of GDP in 2012 without new investments. This negative trend will not change and Italian ODA may reach 0,16% in 2015 according to the European Commission in the absence of a U turn

Italian ODA may be at the beginning of a transition period. By the end of 2011, a Minister in charge of development cooperation was appointed against all odds. It is a Minister without portfolio, which means that human and financial resources are still in the hands of the usual players: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance. In a most recent directive issued by the Prime Minister Monti (April 2012), it is clarified that the Development Minister is in charge of “setting the guidelines, promoting and coordinating” the activities of the Ministries which carry out development cooperation programmes; the Minister will pursue the “unity, the coherence and the effectiveness” of Italian development cooperation in general. This is a most welcome step but tensions between the Development Minister and the other players are still possible at this stage.

It can be said that Italy is used to living just a few metres from a fatal precipice; the current economic crunch complemented with a credibility crisis of the political system is just the latest in a long series of critical situations. The Italian ODA system is no exception: Berlusconi’s government between 2008 and 2011 was about to deal a final blow to Italian aid by reducing resources severely and, in doing so, placing Italy in the lot of the worst performers. The main challenge is now to give new credibility to Italy as a development actor. The appointment of a Development Minister is an encouraging start which needs to be supported with fresh resources and a comprehensive aid system reform. In this regard, the most recent three-year financial perspectives document (april 2012) commits Italy to re-aligning with internationally agreed targets though in absence of a clearly indefinable timeline.

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Re-defining the CSO camp in the post Busan development landscape

CSOs for effective development are hard at work to shape  their own future. The development landscape will change  in the next few months: not only will a global multistakeholder partnership emerge by the end of June (according to post Busan clock) but also the CSO camp is very likely to evolve.

The goal is, in fact, to launch new partnership for effective development by the end of the year that will bring together a wide range of nongovernmental players, from development NGOs to Trade Unions, from feminist groups to faith based networks. Early discussions on a new CSO alliance started in Busan to take stock of the changing development environment. A more comprehensive direction of travel was agreed on in a first global meeting in Cebu (the Philippines) at the of February. A meeting of an ad hoc working group met this week in Amsterdam. A draft reference paper will be available in  few weeks’s time.

The new thing about this CSO partnership for effective development is that different streams of work will come together. The  agendas taken care of by BetterAid and the Open Forum for CSOs’ Effectiveness will merge.  The Partnership  will comprise different pillars: the implementation of the Busan outcome document as well as of the Istanbul principles and the Siem Reap consensus. The founding block of this new coalition will be the national level which will be supported by regional and global initiatives.

For this Partnership to be up to the task, it will take commitment and resources  from all constituencies. Applying the principles of transparency and effectiveness in the day to day life will be the task of the global governance body where all groups  will be represented.

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Aid and development effectiveness – the new Global partnership slowly takes shape.

5th April. The clock of the post Busan process doesn’t stop moving towards the game end. The second PBIG meeting just finished toady. The third and last one will take place in Rome on May 21 and 22; the final act is planned to take place in Paris at the UNESCO headquarters on June 28th and 29th. With less than 12 weeks to go there are still many important details that need to be sorted out to the place the new Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation on the right track.

On governance, it may seem the OECD secretariat is a position to come up with a proposal on the ministerial meetings (periodicity, membership and functions) that can be endorsed by most governments. CSOs, through BetterAid, maintain reservations especially when it comes to the absence of a provision that can elevate the ministerial meetings to a fora where peer learning and agreements on best practices can be accommodated.

Today’s discussions also focused on the profile of the Steering group members. The debate subject was the need to balance representation issues with personal leadership and capacity ones; the need to keep the Steering group light and efficient versus the necessity to make it politically representative enough so as to generate the traction required. This sort of tension reflects how hard it is to stay true to the resolution that Busan should give life to a partnership that is “new, inclusive and representative”. If these fundamental features are not reflected at the level of the group that will steer the entire process, the new architecture will fall short of keeping its promises.

PBIG members made a step towards an agreement on global monitoring. There are seven priority areas that will monitored in the future: inclusive ownership, accountability, predictability, gender, transparency, results and capacity building. There is appetite for keeping the number of indicators as small as possible, in the range of ten. Whoever works with numbers knows pretty well that the more aggregate that data is, the more information you are likely to loose and the accuracy of your assessments is at risk. A small group ‑ including Rwanda, Honduras, Bangladesh and BetterAid – will draft a proposal in time for the next PBIG meeting.

But the pictures is larger than the seven areas. The DAC secretariat has been asked to come up with a comprehensive list of commitments from the Busan Outcome Document. But “if and when they will be monitored is a different issue”. Also, Paris and Accra assessment should still apply to DAC members. Last but not least the role of the South South cooperation providers is less certain than ever. So, in reality monitoring may look like a puzzle. How this system will work at local level is still to be addressed.

Lastly, a consolidated proposal for the supporting committee will be made available next week from the UNDP/OECD. We will soon know more about the real power house of the new architecture.

Ldf

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Post Busan. Do they really want ministers on board?

5th April – The post Busan process has come to its second key moment with the PBIG (the Post Busan Interim Group) coming together in Paris this week. The first round of discussions took place yesterday, April 4th, to address the basic features of the governance structures of the new Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. In February, I highlighted that the whole thing was getting too light. One may now say that it is evolving from light to transparent.

In fact, one of the major political resolutions that everyone in Busan seemed to agree with was that the implementation of Paris and Accra was not progressing as needed due to lack of political steer. The process was too technical and ministers were not keen to be involved. Yesterday, the prevailing option in the PBIG meeting was the ministers will meet every two years. Can you please tell me how you can get ministers on board this way? I can guess that ministers won’t be happy to be called in just to put a stamp on something that will be cooked in someone else’s kitchen.

The issues of the role of South South cooperation providers came up yesterday when the size and membership of the Steering group was discussed. The issue at hand is whether or not they will keep the special observer status in the future, which may allow them to influence the process without taking commitments. ldf

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