2 April 2018
SDG Knowledge Weekly: European Sustainable Development Policy and the Next EU Budget
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The German Development Institute (DIE) and European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) released multiple papers on European budget reform and opportunities under the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

A meeting of the Caribbean Forum of African Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) Council of Ministers discussed a future ACP-EU Partnership agreement.

A report by the European Court of Auditors reviewed EU co-financed public private partnerships (PPPs), finding limited benefits and widespread shortcomings.

Last week saw significant press coverage of the next EU budget, as well as Europe’s progress on the SDGs and cross-regional impacts. This week’s brief reviews recent thought leadership on the budget, meetings and reports on development cooperation, and progress on child-related SDG indicators.

The German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) released multiple analyses on European development policy under the next EU budget. A briefing paper titled, ‘EU Budget Reform: Opportunities and Challenges for Global Sustainable Development,’ explores the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which regulates EU spending. The current MFF covers the period from 2014-2020, and is divided into six headings, on 1) smart and inclusive growth, 2) sustainable growth, 3) security and citizenship, 4) ‘Global Europe,’ 5) administration and 6) compensations. The DIE paper notes that the principles of the 2030 Agenda should be embedded within the EU budget, such that it is more strongly focused on disadvantaged groups and the region’s environmental footprint, which the authors indicate can “bolster public support for Europe.” They also call for assigning each of the 17 SDGs to one of the six headings of the MFF, and for having the next MFF—proposals for which are due to be reviewed on 2 May 2018—set guidelines for sustainable procurement (as called for in SDG target 12.7).

A second DIE briefing paper titled, ‘From Damage Control to Sustainable Development: European Development Policy under the Next EU Budget,’ examines the “Global Europe” Heading under the MFF, the bulk of which is reserved for development cooperation. The authors note that in recent years, fragmentation of financing instruments and failure to make clear strategy choices has led to the insertion of EU member States’ individual interests around migration and security. To address this, the brief calls for the establishment of a clearer direction in terms of the volume of finance, thematic choices, recipients of EU funding and the overarching architecture of Heading 4.

Also on the MFF, the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) previously released a brief titled, ‘The Dynamics of EU Budget Negotiations for External Action: Towards a ‘single’ instrument?’ The brief explores challenges facing the next budget negotiations, examining the reconciliation of managerial, political, development-led, financially-led and strategy-driven approaches. The authors also review political dynamics at play and their implications for the next budget, including the risks and benefits of a single financing instrument, and scenarios for how such an instrument might be deployed in practice. A blog answering key questions around the design, form and management of a single instrument was released this month. An earlier ECDPM paper containing initial reflections for the coming budget is available, while an ECDPM blog on EU actions and policies vis-à-vis the SDGs, published in February 2018, is also available.

The budget negotiations are taking place against the background of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, which many fear will reduce financial resources available for sustainable development in the next MFF. On the UK’s SDG implementation efforts at home, Ruth Fuller describes the pros and pitfalls of the government’s recently released Single Departmental Plans on Bond’s blog. In the face of diverse funding needs by developing economies, ECDPM examines the EU’s engagement with middle income countries (MICs) and more advanced developing countries (MADCs). Mariella Di Ciommo and Meritxell Sayós Monràs note that these countries are critical to global achievement of the 2030 Agenda, and describe how a tailored approach, as mentioned in ‘The New European Consensus on Development,’ could augment the EU’s current toolbox in the context of a likely-shrinking post-2020 budget.

On EU policy as it relates to African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States, a meeting of the Caribbean Forum of African Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) Council of Ministers was convened in Saint Kitts and Nevis from 26-27 March 2018. The meeting discussed the successor to the Cotonou Agreement, which establishes a comprehensive partnership in areas of development cooperation, political cooperation and trade, but is due to expire in 2020. The original agreement makes reference to the European Development Fund (EDF), which provides ACP States with development aid separately from the MFF, with its own rules and procedures. The Council’s final statement recognizes the changing global context and highlights the importance of integrating the next agreement with the 2030 Agenda, Paris Agreement on climate change, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development. Opening remarks by the Honorable Mark Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, outline the objectives of and rationale behind the special meeting. An ECDPM publication released in January also describes options and choices in negotiation of a future ACP-EU Partnership agreement.

On public private partnerships (PPPs), the European Court of Auditors released a special report, titled, ‘Public Private Partnerships in the EU: Widespread shortcomings and limited benefits.’ The auditors’ observations of 12 EU co-financed PPPs highlight that projects examined did enable faster policy implementation and had the potential to set high standards in operation and maintenance. However, procuring PPPs can both limit competition and lead to delays in the early implementation stages, in part due to the need to negotiate contractual aspects that otherwise would not factor into the traditional procurement process. The report concludes that audited PPP projects were not necessarily effective in realizing their potential benefits, in part due to delays and cost increases, and ultimately finding that, “the institutional and legal framework is not yet adequate for EU supported PPP projects.” An official press release and a reaction blog by Eurodad, which welcomes the report, is also available.

Separately, a plethora of recent events focused on EU policies around sustainable finance, investment and development cooperation:

  • The European Commission (EC) hosted the High-Level Conference on Financing Sustainable Growth in Brussels, Belgium, on 22 March 2018.
  • Organized by Climate Action and the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI), the 2018 Sustainable Investment Forum Europe was convened on 13 March 2018, in Paris, France, under the theme, ‘Financing Innovation for a Low Carbon Future.’
  • The EC’s high-level multi-stakeholder platform on the SDGs held its first meeting on 10 January 2018, in Brussels, Belgium.

Additional issues of the SDG Knowledge Weekly can be found here.

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