Policy Coherence for Development: still some way to go

11-05-2015

Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) has become an EU legal obligation, after years of slow progress. PCD aims to incorporate development concerns in non-aid policies in order to minimise contradictions, and if possible, create synergies between policies. However, despite a reiterated political commitment and reinforcement of the institutional framework to follow up on PCD, scepticism prevails outside the Commission on the feasibility of achieving PCD. Difficult-to-reconcile objectives, and the differing values and institutional cultures underpinning development policy and other policies, make PCD a challenge. Particular questioning surrounds EU trade policy, where PCD-related measures in favour of developing countries look marginal in an overall EU strategy prioritising its economic and security interests. In food-security related agricultural and fisheries policies, criticism is less strong, taking into account the gradual elimination of export subsidies that have long been the focus of criticism by some NGOs, and the recent reform of fisheries agreements. In the migration and climate change policy areas, ambiguities in EU policies remain, in spite of development-friendly rhetoric. As for the security and development nexus, inter-institutional tensions add to the overall difficulties in coordinating these legally heterogeneous fields, making the achievement of PCD a minor issue compared to overall problems of coherence and coordination. The question some raise is whether this quest for PCD will not, in the end, result mostly in the instrumentalisation of development policy, which would be used to compensate for EU hard economic and security goals rather than to alter them. The European Parliament's pragmatic approach aims to strengthen PCD implementation tools, in particular by proposing an EU arbitration mechanism and a complaints system, in order to remedy possible inconsistencies between policies.

Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) has become an EU legal obligation, after years of slow progress. PCD aims to incorporate development concerns in non-aid policies in order to minimise contradictions, and if possible, create synergies between policies. However, despite a reiterated political commitment and reinforcement of the institutional framework to follow up on PCD, scepticism prevails outside the Commission on the feasibility of achieving PCD. Difficult-to-reconcile objectives, and the differing values and institutional cultures underpinning development policy and other policies, make PCD a challenge. Particular questioning surrounds EU trade policy, where PCD-related measures in favour of developing countries look marginal in an overall EU strategy prioritising its economic and security interests. In food-security related agricultural and fisheries policies, criticism is less strong, taking into account the gradual elimination of export subsidies that have long been the focus of criticism by some NGOs, and the recent reform of fisheries agreements. In the migration and climate change policy areas, ambiguities in EU policies remain, in spite of development-friendly rhetoric. As for the security and development nexus, inter-institutional tensions add to the overall difficulties in coordinating these legally heterogeneous fields, making the achievement of PCD a minor issue compared to overall problems of coherence and coordination. The question some raise is whether this quest for PCD will not, in the end, result mostly in the instrumentalisation of development policy, which would be used to compensate for EU hard economic and security goals rather than to alter them. The European Parliament's pragmatic approach aims to strengthen PCD implementation tools, in particular by proposing an EU arbitration mechanism and a complaints system, in order to remedy possible inconsistencies between policies.