European Union institutions

The European Union (EU) provided USD$16.5 billion in Official Development Assistance in 2017, according to the OECD. As a leader in global development, the EU is also increasingly a leader in putting aid transparency commitments into practice. In 2011, the EU committed to make its development aid finances and project information open and accessible to all as part of the Busan Partnership Agreement. This commitment was repeated in 2017 in the European Consensus for Development. This commitment was partly achieved by European institutions but not by all member states.

The European Commission (EC), based in Brussels, is the executive body of the EU. It develops and implements policies on aid and development. It is also a donor in its own right. The Commission has led the transparency and effectiveness agenda within the EU. An inter-service working group is made up of staff from four Commission departments. This supports the Commission and member states with the publication of IATI data, in line with the EU transparency guarantee.

Key EC Institutions included in the 2018 Aid Transparency Index (EC-NEAR, EC-ECHO, EC-DEVCO) ranked in the ‘good’ category.

The EU has made commitments to aid transparency including:

  • 2017 European Consensus on Development
    The commitment to transparency was renewed in June 2017 in the European Consensus for Development, which will shape development policy for next years. The transparency commitment is contained in paragraph 115 of the Consensus: “The EU and its Member States will continue to champion transparency, which should progressively cover the full range of development resources.
    They will develop tools to present and use development cooperation data more effectively to improve accountability processes and standards. They will support partner countries to link resources for development with results, by better linking the planning and budgeting processes.” 
    The Consensus also commits the EU institutions to publish data on trust funds (paragraph 80) and restates the EU’s commitment to the development effectiveness principles agreed at Busan in 2011 (paragraph 114). You can read our response to the consensus here.
  • 2011 EU Transparency Guarantee
    In November 2011, the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted a common position for Busan, incorporating the EU Transparency Guarantee. EU Institutions and member states agreed to publicly disclose all aid information in a common, standard format so that it can be accessed, shared and published.

Whilst these commitments are welcome, progress is uneven: some EU institutions and members are among the most transparent in the world, but others lag far behind. Our advocacy focus is on the largest bilateral donors and institutions, including the European Commission, France, Germany and the UK.

Agencies

EC-Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (EC-NEAR)

EC-NEAR is responsible for helping countries to join the EU and for relations with neighbouring countries. The agency manages the bulk of the EU’s financial and technical assistance to these countries. It first started publishing to IATI in 2013 and has made significant progress since appearing in the 2013 Aid Transparency Index, where it ranked in the ‘fair’ category. As in 2016, it remains in the ‘good’ category. We now call on DG NEAR to:

  • Make improvements to the publication of performance-related information.
  • Make further improvements to the publication of sub-national locations data.
  • Ensure the quality of its IATI publication, starting by regularly updating activity dates and statuses to reflect its development work on the ground.
  • To demonstrate the impact of transparency on development work, EC-NEAR should take responsibility to promote the use of the data they publish: internally, to promote coordination and effectiveness; and externally, to explore online and in-person feedback loops, including at country-level.

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EC - Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (EC-ECHO)

EC-ECHO is responsible for formulating EC humanitarian aid policy and implementing the EU’s humanitarian aid budget. It also coordinates the EU’s disaster response mechanism.

EC- ECHO consolidated its progress and remains in the ‘good category’. It is now leading the three EC agencies.. We now call on them to:

  • Prioritise the publication of performance-related information to include reviews and evaluations and results.
  • Improve its publication of disaggregated budgets and should start publishing sub-national location coordinates.
  • To demonstrate the impact of transparency on development work, EC-ECHO should take responsibility to promote the use of the data they publish: internally, to promote coordination and effectiveness; and externally, to explore online and in-person feedback loops, including at country-level.

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EC – Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (EC-DEVCO)

EC- DEVCO is responsible for formulating the EC’s development policy and for implementing EU development cooperation worldwide. The agency manages a number of financial instruments, most notably the Development Cooperation Instrument and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. While remaining in the ‘good’ category in the 2018 Index, DG DEVCO has fallen behind EC- NEAR and EC-ECHO. We therefore call on it to:

  • Prioritise the publication of comprehensive performance-related information. This should also include pre-project impact appraisals and reviews and evaluations.
  • Make improvements on information that is particularly valued by many data users, such as sub-national locations and implementers.
  • Ensure the quality of its IATI publication, starting by regularly updating activity dates and statuses to reflect its development work on the ground.
  • To demonstrate the impact of transparency on development work, EC-DEVCO should take responsibility to promote the use of the data they publish: internally, to promote coordination and effectiveness; and externally, to explore online and in-person feedback loops, including at country-level.

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European Investment Bank (EIB)

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the European Union’s bank, owned by its member states. It works with other EU institutions to support EU policy and provides lending, blended finance and technical advice for investment both within and outside the EU. As in 2016, the EIB remains in the ‘fair’ category. We therefore call on the EIB to:

  •  Focus on improving the comprehensiveness of its publication, in particular on financial and budgetary data as well as performance-related information.
  • Ensure the quality of its IATI, for example by using existing sector codes.
  • Consider further extending its transparency efforts to all private sector operations and share best practice with other DFIs.
  • Take responsibility to promote the use of the data they publish: internally, to promote coordination and effectiveness; and externally, to explore online and in-person feedback loops, including at country-level.

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Contact

Catherine Turner

Catherine Turner

Director of Advocacy

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