Yesterday, the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI) released a report on DFID’s oversight of EU aid. The report, based on a limited number of case studies in three recipient countries, found that both DFID and EU institutions could work more closely together in delivering aid, and that EU institutions’ monitoring and results frameworks should be strengthened.
EU aid is internationally recognised as high quality, including by DFID in its own Multilateral Aid Review. In comparative studies such as the Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA) index, developed by the Center for Global Development and the Brookings Institution’s Center for Global Economy and Development, aid from EU institutions to the world poorest consistently ranks among the most effective across a number of indicators. Thanks to EU aid, more than nine million children enrolled in primary education, more than five million were vaccinated against measlesand more than 31 million people were connected to drinking water between 2004 and 2009. In 2010, more than 150 million people receive EU humanitarian assistance.
There is, of course, always room for improvement. The ICAI has highlighted the important work that the EU still needs to do in strengthening co-ordination among EU institutions and in reinforcing its own performance management and results framework. These steps are essential in achieving and monitoring results, and for measuring value for money. The EU is aware of these weaknesses and over the past year has been taking steps address them:
the Lisbon Treaty’s obliges the EU’s development co-operation agencies to put poverty reduction at their heart;
the recently agreed EU Agenda for Change will strengthen co-ordination between EU and other donors, including DFID;
the EU will move to a new risk management system in 2013; and
the European Commission’s new Quality and Impact Directorate within DG DEVCO will also strengthen the EU’s results and monitoring framework to ensure that its aid projects are delivering results and value for money.
The UK government has been instrumental in securing these recent improvements in EU aid. We have confidence in the EU’s ability to implement these changes with DFID support. The ICAI report serves as a useful benchmark for both DFID and the EU in thinking about the best ways to do this. In implementing these reforms, and building on existing results, it will be important for the EU to be sufficiently funded. The EU aid budget – principally the Development Co-operation Instrument and the European Development Fund – should therefore be supported at the levels proposed by the European Commission during current negotiations of the next seven-year EU budget.
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