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Press release

EU foreign policy spending must be better targeted and scrutinised by Parliament

External relations - 10-07-2012 - 18:25
Committee : Foreign Affairs
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EU foreign policy spending after 2013 must reflect the EU's political ambitions and be resource-efficient, effective and democratically accountable, said foreign affairs committee MEPs on Monday and Tuesday in votes on geographic and thematic funds for the EU's external action.

"The financing instruments for 2014-2020 are key tools for the promotion of the Union's objectives and values in the world, based on democracy, the rule of law and human rights. The European Parliament does not want to be involved in their micro-management. However, as co-legislator for these instruments and as budgetary authority, it will insist on democratic control of their implementation and on the same rights as the other legislator, the Council"," said Elmar Brok (EPP, DE), chair of the foreign affairs committee and rapporteur for the regulation on common rules for the implementation of the EU's external financing instruments.

The committee adopted amendments to proposals for various financing instruments and mandated the respective rapporteurs to start negotiations with the Council after the summer. The foreign affairs Council adopted a partial general position on the package on 25 June.

Measurable objectives and involvement of civil society

The instruments should deliver visible results on the ground in order to achieve objectives agreed at political level, MEPs say, adding that they need to be prepared, implemented, monitored and assessed in a transparent and inclusive way on the basis of clear and measurable indicators.

MEPs stress that the partner countries should be involved at national, regional and local level and at every stage of the programming and they say special attention should be paid to involving civil society.

They highlight the need for greater coordination between the different financing instruments and with other EU external action budget lines, member state programmes and other international donors in order to avoid overlaps and increase efficiency.

The Commission should draft the strategic programming documents

The committee also says it is essential that Parliament and the Council delegate power to the Commission for preparing all the strategic programming documents. This would allow flexibility while ensuring democratic legitimacy and transparency, they argue, since Parliament and the Council will retain control over the documents.

Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA)

Kristian Vigenin (S&D, BG), the rapporteur for the IPA, said: "To improve the transparency and visibility of the Union's assistance, the Commission should measure the progress of the enlargement countries with clear performance indicators and include IPA assistance impact assessments in its country-specific annual progress reports." 

MEPs emphasize the issue of refugees and displaced persons, the need for inclusive economic and social development and job creation and the importance of increasing local ownership. Well-performing countries should benefit from a performance reserve worth up to 5% of the overall funding allocations, they suggest.

European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI)

Eduard Kukan (EPP, SK), the rapporteur for the ENI, said: “It is crucial to build this instrument around the principles of "differentiation" and "more for more". Partnership with societies is equally central. Altogether, these principles should create incentives for supporting democracy-oriented reforms in our neighbourhood."

MEPs ask the Commission to give clearer assessments of neighbourhood countries' progress with reforms in the annual country reports and to allow for the possible revision of funding levels on this basis. Civil society groups should also be strengthened to scrutinise public policies and play a full part in the democratisation process, they add.

Partnership Instrument (PI)

The rapporteur for the PI, Mario Mauro (EPP, IT), said: "The Partnership Instrument, although a new tool, will play a key role in the EU's external action. We must build it on the basis of the EU's strategic interests and open it to all countries in which the EU has a significant interest.

MEPs underline the need for a thorough re-evaluation of existing "strategic partnerships" and stress that the PI should also support effective multilateralism, allowing for key partner countries to take up the Europe 2020 goals, namely through the G7, G8, and G20 frameworks..

Instrument for Stability (IfS)

Franziska Brantner (Greens/EFA, DE), author of the report on the IfS, said: "The change of the instrument's name from "Stability" to "Stability and Peace" demonstrates its new direction: After the Arab Spring, the EU can no longer pursue stability irrespective of its price, but instead must become a determined global actor for peace and promote security of its citizens."

MEPs strengthened Parliament's political control and the role of civil society in peace-building and conflict prevention and pressed for gender equality and respect for human rights in the field of counter-terrorism.

European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR)

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE, DE), rapporteur for the EIDHR, said: “The EIDHR is a complementary instrument, which should be used where no other instrument can act for democracy and human rights promotion. We need to strengthen its reactivity and flexibility to deal with urgent cases and take advantage of its independence from the consent of third countries' authorities.”

MEPs also insist that the EU delegations, which should play a key role in EIDHR implementation, require more specialized staff to carry out their tasks of human rights and democracy support.

Note to editors: the development committee has the lead on the Development Cooperation Instrument and is scheduled to vote on it in September.

In the chair: Elmar Brok (EPP, ED), followed by Andrey Kovatchev (EPP, BG)

REF.: 20120709IPR48494