European Think-Tanks Group sends Open Letter to EU Commission

Press Release of 10 May 2010

Earlier this year, four of Europe’s leading think-tanks – German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE) and the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) – joined forces to build the “European Think-Tanks Group”. In the first undertaking of its kind, more than 25 researchers published a collaborative report “New Challenges, New Beginnings”, calling for new impetus to tackle today's global challenges.

Now the European Think-Tanks Group has published an Open Letter to the European Commission, namely to Commission President José Manuel Barroso, High Representative Catherine Ashton and the Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs.

In the letter, they urge the EU to take appropriate action for development to be able to play its essential role in shaping more coherent EU global action, within the context of the agreement reached on the functioning of the European External Action Service (EEAS) amongst Foreign Affairs Ministers in the Council on 26 April 2010. For this purpose, they encourage the EU to address four main challenges.

  1. First, ensure that the EEAS is properly staffed on the development side. This means a Director General responsible for development, supported by his or her own strategic policy staff and with authority over the development units transferred into the EAS from other parts of the Commission. The Director General should be fully responsible for results-oriented planning and for taking the necessary measures to ensure policy coherence for development (PCD);
  2. Second, protect the capacity of the Development Commissioner and of the institutions he or she manages. In particular, EuropeAid will need the breadth and depth to manage a €11 billion aid programme. It is not now and should not become simply a mechanical administration for delivery of decisions taken elsewhere;
  3. Third, preserve the participation of developing countries themselves in setting frameworks and programming development cooperation. Programming mandates must not become the exclusive preserve of EEAS officials, even those in the development wing. Instead, the EEAS, DG Development and EuropeAid should work together to embed policy and programming as close to the field as possible; and should make full use in all countries of the type of partnership pioneered in ACP countries; and
  4. Fourth, put in place appropriate accountability to the European Parliament, engaging both the foreign affairs and development committees, along with others dealing with trade, environment and other items linked to policy coherence.

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The Institute in Brief:

The German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) is one of the leading Think Tanks for development policy world-wide. It is based in the UN City of Bonn. DIE builds bridges between theory and practice and works within international research networks. The key to DIE’s success is its institutional independence, which is guaranteed by the Institute’s founding statute. Since its founding in 1964, DIE has based its work on the interplay between Research, Consulting and Training. These three areas complement each other and are the factors responsible for the Institute’s distinctive profile.
Every Monday, the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) comments the latest news and trends of development policy in The Current Column.
The German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) is headed by Imme Scholz (Acting Director). DIE is member of the Johannes-Rau-Forschungsgemeinschaft.