The EU must ensure its development policy transcends its current structural weaknesses, is clearly prioritized and not undermined by inconsistencies between trade, agriculture, fisheries and other policies, MEPs said in two resolutions adopted this week. The Parliament also gave its green light on Thursday for the EU to approve the International Food Assistance Convention,
MEPs broadly supported the Commission's "Agenda for change" communication on the future of EU development policy. They approved plans to concentrate EU aid on the most needy countries, but asked the Commission to negotiate a roadmap for gradually reducing assistance to middle-income ones.
They also advocated targeting EU assistance on a limited number of priorities to be identified with the beneficiary countries. Parliament also said an independent think tank should be set up to look at ways to harness the EU's political potential as the world's leading donor of development aid to better effect.
"We need an independent think-tank, administratively linked to the Commission, to provide us with the best possible reading of factors that will affect relations between nations," said Charles Goerens (ALDE, LU) after the resolution he had steered through Parliament was adopted on Tuesday by 540 votes to 36, with 65 abstentions.
Consistency in development action: more than a technical issue
The EU must use its powers to better coordinate and synchronise the development policies and programmes of its institutions and member states, MEPs stressed in a separate resolution on "Policy coherence for development" on Thursday, adopted by 561 votes to 47, with 51 abstentions.
Furthermore, ensuring that policymaking in different fields does not hamper development goals is primarily EU's political responsibility and not a technical issue, they stressed.
"It is in our own interest to bring all EU policies with an external impact seamlessly into line with the goals established for EU development policy", said rapporteur for the resolution Birgit Schnieber-Jastram (EPP, DE).
EP backs plan to step up fight against global hunger
Parliament also decided on Thursday, by show of hands, to approve the Food Assistance Convention. With this agreement, "the world started to take a closer look at how to ensure a more efficient response to the nutritional needs of vulnerable populations that goes beyond the mere provision of food aid", said rapporteur Nirj Deva (ECR, UK).
The convention, which includes new types of assistance, is intended to become a humanitarian tool that stimulates local production and provides long-term solutions to food insecurity.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolutions, Consent (Food Assistance Convention)