A European development policy with clear added value

EU aid policy has developed in recent years in line with new treaties, and not least the European Parliament's growing influence on politics. Sweden has a long tradition of development aid and development policy and can therefore contribute a great deal of knowledge and experience when designing European development policy.

As early as 2005, EU member states undertook to achieve the UN target of allocating at least 2015% of GNI to development aid by 0.7. Sweden, which raised its own development assistance budget significantly with the change of government in 2006 and which has since set aside at least 1% of GNI in the annual state budget, is setting a good example and can therefore credibly work to ensure that other EU countries live up to their commitments.

EU aid policy has developed in recent years in line with new treaties, and not least the European Parliament's growing influence on politics. When I started working as an adviser to the members of the EPP Group in Parliament's Development Committee in the early 2000s, the committee's criticism of EU aid was very much that it was too little results - oriented. Annual reports from the European Commission contained detailed figures on how much aid had been paid to various programs and countries, but it was almost impossible to read what results had been achieved or even to see how much had gone to sectors such as health and safety. healthcare.

As the level of development assistance increases, in Sweden and in the EU, the responsibility for achieving clear results also increases. At least as important as increasing aid is to ensure that it is used as efficiently as possible and reaches those who need it most. At least as important as redistributing some of the world's resources through aid is helping developing countries to create growth and prosperity themselves.

Gradually, and in part through pressure from the European Parliament, EU aid has become more results-oriented and the Commission's feedback has improved. In order to be further streamlined, the EU's cohesion policy must be better implemented so that all policy areas contribute to or at least do not counteract development policy. The UN Millennium Development Goals have been an important instrument for a more goal-oriented policy for all its member states and have also served as a strong driving force for larger and better global aid efforts. Now both the EU and Sweden must play key roles when these goals are to be further developed after 2015.

But aid is never in itself sufficient to develop a country, but can only act as a catalyst and as an amplifier of other policies. Long-term development cooperation requires efforts that go far beyond traditional development assistance. Democracy assistance, conflict prevention measures, refugee reception and assistance, environmental efforts and trade promotion are examples of areas where the EU can and should play an important role in the outside world and especially in developing countries as peace, democracy but also social, economic and environmentally sustainable development are necessary conditions for these countries to create security, growth and welfare. There are also initiatives that address the root causes of refugee flows and thus contribute to fewer people being forced to flee their country in order to survive.

Traditional development assistance statically looked at the roles of donors and beneficiaries. A long-term development policy must instead be designed as a partnership where the goals are achieved through a continuous political dialogue that includes fundamental principles such as good governance, openness, democratic institutions, respect for human rights, the rule of law and social security.

EU democracy support will include election observation, anti-corruption support and transparent financial governance systems and assistance to a vibrant civil society. EU development cooperation will also assist the partner countries' economic reforms through, among other things, support for market development, infrastructure and trade, deepened regional integration, development and diversification of raw material products and the promotion of a favorable business environment. Collaboration between public and private actors should also be stimulated. With regard to trade, the EU must make it clear that this is not a hidden agenda for creating new markets for European products, but the stated aim must be to make partner countries better on the world market and, not least, to reduce the often high tariff walls. between developing countries themselves. It is a fact that countries that have opened up their trade have developed much faster than countries that have been characterized by protectionism. The EU must also be a driving force in the fight against tax evasion, which means greater outflows for developing countries than the inflow from all global aid.

Sweden has a long tradition of development aid and development policy and can therefore contribute a great deal of knowledge and experience (of both successes and setbacks) when shaping European development policy. The EU is represented in virtually all developing countries in the world and can and should play a coordinating role on the ground for member states' assistance. Through synergy effects and a common approach to development goals, EU aid can contribute to greater determination and long-termism, which in turn leads to a more credible and visible policy. It is also what is required to show responsibility as the world's largest donor. The European Parliament and its Members have an important role to play in reviewing the implementation of EU development policy and, in dialogue with the European Commission, constantly seeking ways to make it more targeted and effective.

When Swedish MEPs' activity in development issues has been evaluated by CONCORD Sweden, Christian Democrat members have ended up at the top both in 2009 and now in 2014. In Sweden, the Christian Democrats have been the driving force behind the one percent goal in government cooperation and it has now been maintained for two terms. There is thus no doubt that these issues are central to the party and that it is a commitment that will be renewed after the elections to both the European Parliament and the Swedish Parliament.

Jesper Haglund,

Political Adviser, EPP Group in the European Parliament
Candidate (KD) in the European elections, seat 39

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

Do you also want to write a debate article for Uttvecklingsmagasinet? Contact us at

Share this: