By Martin Banks - 24th April 2012
Five years on from the EU's last aid review, a major issue is the coordination of aid efforts across EU institutions
A new report says that European development aid programmes "risk suffering from poor institutional coordination".
This, it goes on to say, is despite "positive" improvements in EU aid over the last five years.
The report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was presented to MEPs in parliament on Tuesday.
Reaction was swift with Olivier Consolo, director of Concord, the European confederation of relief and development NGOs, welcoming improvements in EU assistance.
He said, "Overall, EU aid has improved in several key areas such as working more closely with partner countries, which is welcome.
"The EU also shows progress in establishing common standards and principles for development policy across 27 member states, which is no easy task."
The report also highlights what it calls "institutional problems" in coordinating overseas aid to poor and developing countries.
On this, Consolo is particularly critical of the role played by the EU's diplomatic service, headed by Catherine Ashton.
He said, "Five years on from the EU's last aid review, a major issue is the coordination of aid efforts across EU institutions.
"In particular, the EU's new foreign policy arm, the external action service, is failing to integrate development policy in its remit and clarify its role vis-à-vis the commission.
"It's important that the EU wastes no more time in getting its act together for the support it gives to millions in need."
Consolo also spoke about the EU's aid commitments, saying, "EU member states should follow the OECD's call to continue to push to meet commitments to give 0.7 per cent of their GNI to development aid with a clear roadmap to achieve the 2015 target.
"The financial crisis should not be used as an excuse to cull aid budgets, which would leave many in need without support."
Consolo also said that EU policy on aid should be "more coherent".
"At a time when the EU is looking to overhaul its agricultural, trade and energy policies, the report shows that the EU still needs to make its policies more coherent with development objectives."
Meanwhile, the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) has condemned Hungary on its alleged treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers.
It says, "While UNHCR welcomes recent steps by Hungary to improve the situation, including steps by the police to improve the complaints procedure in detention and investigate instances of brutality, urgent steps are required to bring the protection environment into line with international standards.
"The solution requires more than merely improved conditions of detention.
"UNHCR is urging wider changes to current policies which see the indiscriminate detention of asylum-seekers.
"Instead, people should be able to come forward and make their claims for asylum in a positive environment, without being discouraged, intimidated, treated like criminals and facing the severe stress of detention."