AID TRANSPARENCY ANALYSIS
EU institutions collectively are the third largest donor reporting to the DAC, spending over USD 18bn (approx. EUR 14bn) in Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2012. In December 2013, the European Parliament approved the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and in March 2014, it approved the financing instruments for implementing the EU’s external action. This framework translates the EU’s political priorities into financial terms and defines how the agreed amounts will be allocated in the field of external assistance, including development. The total amount agreed for external action comes to just over EUR 66.2bn (in current prices) for the period 2014–2020. A further EUR 30.5bn will be made available for cooperation with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries through the 11th European Development Fund over the same period, which is not part of the MFF.
DG DEVCO is considered to be the main implementing agency for EU external assistance, accounting for 75% of the EC’s ODA, however substantial flows and activities are managed by other departments. As in 2013, the 2014 Aid Transparency Index assesses the transparency of the four main EC departments managing EU external assistance: DG Enlargement, EuropeAid – Development and Cooperation (DG DEVCO), DG Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) and the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI). The other EU institution covered in the Index is the European Investment Bank (EIB), which plays an increasingly important role in implementing EU external assistance, as does the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) which is partly-owned by the EU and the EIB.
The EU’s commitments on aid transparency
The European Council agreed a common position for the High Level Forum (HLF) in Busan and prioritised more transparent development cooperation as a core area. The EC and EU Member States committed to the EU Transparency Guarantee, which means that the EU Institutions and EU Member States will publicly disclose all aid information in a common standard format so that it can be more easily accessed, shared and published. Further analysis of EU Member State performance in the 2014 ATI can be found in the EU Report.
The European Commission itself plays an important role within the EU on aid transparency, providing advice to Member States on fulfilling their commitments to the Busan common standard, of which IATI is a core component, and internationally within the framework of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) as part of its steering committee. In line with the Busan commitment the EC has rolled out IATI implementation across its main aid-spending departments, starting with DG DEVCO’s initial publication in October 2011, followed by DG Enlargement, ECHO and FPI’s publication in July 2013. The EC facilitates the EU-DEVFIN platform for enhancing ODA reporting capacity and systems to enable newer Member States to provide information on their development cooperation in accordance with the common standard. This has the potential to advance the aid transparency agenda further within Europe.
At the GPEDC High-Level Meeting in April 2014, the Commission launched its new data portal, the EU Aid Explorer. The portal presents information on global development and humanitarian aid flows as reported to a variety of organisations. The EC is currently in the process of developing a new results framework for the programming period 2014–2020. Following a pilot phase in 2014, the first publication of results is expected in early 2015 in the form of a new ‘Annual Development and Cooperation Report 2014’.
Of the four EC departments assessed in 2014, three have made significant improvements this year and are placed in the good category – DG DEVCO ranks 13th, DG Enlargement ranks 15th and FPI ranks 12th – while ECHO ranks 16th overall, missing out on being placed in the good category by 0.1%. These scores reflect the continuing progress within the EC towards implementing its broader aid transparency commitments. The four departments score similarly on many indicators, reflecting a degree of shared information systems and therefore similar technical and institutional challenges in making further improvements. Overall, there are six indicators which none of the departments score on, including MoUs, budget documents, budget ID, results, impact appraisals and conditions. Notably, DG DEVCO, DG Enlargement and FPI are the only organisations in the good category to not score on performance information (results, conditions and impact appraisals). At the time of data collection, the delays in the approval of the external action financing instruments for the period 2014–2020 impacted the EC’s programming process and ability to publish detailed forward-looking budgets and strategies.
ECHO publishes to IATI on a quarterly basis while DG DEVCO, DG Enlargement and FPI publish monthly. However, due to technical issues preventing the publication of files in the January – March 2014 period, DG DEVCO and FPI are considered to be quarterly publishers for the purposes of the Index (see page 13 of the technical paper for more details on how frequency is measured and taken into account for scoring purposes).
The EC is not currently a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and does not have observer status; however civil society networks and organisations worldwide have recently called for a commitment to OGP standards and processes by all EU institutions to ensure more open, participatory and accountable governance for EU citizens.
- The EC should continue to champion transparency, accountability and open data in international fora – including discussions on the post-2015 agenda – and within the EU, in particular by supporting Member State publication to IATI by 2015.
- It should continue to strengthen the transparency of its external assistance by ensuring that all departments managing EU external funding publish detailed, disaggregated information to IATI. It should also take steps to promote publication to IATI by its implementing partners.
- The EC should use IATI data in EU joint programming and coordination processes and promote the access and use of this information by others, including by improving the integration of IATI data in the EU Aid Explorer and supporting data use within partner countries.
- The EC’s new leadership should engage with the Open Government Partnership with a view towards eventual membership. This would be an opportunity to share best practice in open data and open government approaches and improve participation, accountability and legitimacy of the institution.