The revision of the European Consensus on Development: What’s at stake?

Last week, SOLIDAR participated in two exchanges of views on the revision of the European Consensus on Development. On 12 October, a meeting with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) was hosted by the European Parliament co-rapporteurs on the issue, Norbert Neuser (S&D Group) and Bodgan Wenta (EPP), and on 19 October, a consultation was hosted by the European Commission’s DEVCO Director General Mr. Stefano Manservisi.

Adopted in 2006, the Consensus is a policy statement made jointly by the three main EU institutions (Commission, Parliament and Council) that commits the EU to eradicating poverty and building a fairer and more stable world. It identifies shared values, goals, principles and commitments which the Commission and EU governments will implement in their development policies: reducing poverty; respect for human rights, democracy, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, good governance, gender equality, solidarity and social justice; and nationally-led development based on national strategies (developed in collaboration with NGOs) and domestic resources. It also emphasises the EU governments’ commitment to increase their Official Development Assistance to 0.7 % of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2015.

 Since its adoption in 2006, there have been some fundamental changes in the global framework for sustainable development. The main one has been the adoption, in September 2015, of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an ambitious blueprint that is universal (i.e. not only for developing countries), covers the three dimensions of sustainability (economic, social, and environmental) and promotes inter-sectoral implementation.

These changes need to be reflected in EU development policy and this is why this year the European Commission launched the process to revise the Consensus. Nevertheless in the current political context, the risk is high that the revision will be used by some EU governments to link development aid to migration control, security objectives, and/or foreign policy needs.

Taking this into account, at last week’s consultations SOLIDAR – along with CONCORD and the SDG Watch Europe – reiterated, among others, the need for the EU to ensure that:

The respect and the promotion of human rights – including Economic Social and Cultural Rights – remains a central common value of EU development cooperation policy in line with the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy adopted in July 2015;

The Consensus keeps its focus on development cooperation policy goals (i.e. eradicate poverty and fight inequality). Therefore, development funding should not be used for migration management, to counterpart readmission agreements, for border control, for security purposes and/or to subsidise the private sector;

The European Parliament improves its scrutiny on development funding and ensures Policy Coherence for Development;

The revised Consensus reflects the spirit and the principles of the 2030 Agenda: leave no one behind, respect planetary boundaries, and gender equality.

 Above all, the Revised Consensus should deliver a long term vision that should not be compromised by short terms political agendas but should become a development policy all Europeans can be proud of!

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