A new opinion released by the European Court of Auditors on the European Commission’s proposed new international aid instrument cautions that the programme must focus on results.
Under the Commission’s proposal, several EU action programmes will be merged together into the Neighbourhood, Developmental and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), due to take effect in 2021 with €89.2 billion funding over a seven-year period. The wide-ranging international aid instrument will incorporate 12 aid programmes currently in existence, most prominently the European Development Fund, which provides development aid to African, Caribbean and Pacific regions.
The NDICI was designed to streamline and simplify the legislative framework and administrative burden of the aid process, while according Member States a degree of flexibility in the event of unanticipated crises. The international aid instrument will comprise all forms of development funding, including grants, trust funds, budget support and debt relief.
The Court of Auditors has warned the European Commission that the consistency and effectiveness of its international aid instrument will be largely dependent on the reliability of its implementation and management. Auditors called on the Commission and the European Parliament to take performance- and results-based approaches to allocating international aid, adding that results must be monitored based on achievable key performance indicators.
Hannu Takkula, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the opinion, said: “The Commission’s ambitious proposal for the new external actions instrument goes in the right direction and reduces gaps and overlaps. Bringing the European Development Fund into the EU budget will improve democratic oversight of EU development aid by the European Parliament, which will gain budgetary and legislative power over the fund.”
Auditors made further suggestions that the proposal for an overarching international aid instrument make provisions to temper budget flexibility with a greater degree of accountability from Member States to manage the direction of funding. It was also recommended that the proposal make explicit reference to the EU’s objectives of gender equality and combating climate change.