Development funds must be devoted to economic and social progress and should not be used to stem the flows of migrants and asylum seekers – development MEPs warn in a non-binding resolution on the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), adopted Tuesday. The Commission needs to ensure greater democratic scrutiny and member states must live up to their financial commitments, they add.
MEPs have a range of grave concerns about the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), created to address the root causes of migration in fragile partner states by pooling together EU and member states’ resources.
“The ideas behind the Trust Fund – to pool together more resources, to act with flexibility – are good, but problems remain the same. States fail to deliver on their pledges and there is also the risk of diverting development funds. Moreover, flexibility without planning is likely to generate a lack of transparency and a non-effective use of resources. A more stringent involvement of the EP can help to give an answer to some of these problems”, Ignazio Corrao (EFDD, IT) the rapporteur of the report said before the vote.
Respect the rules
MEPs disagree with the Trust Fund’s policy of not focussing exclusively on such objectives, even though the EU’s contribution mostly comes from development budget. Development aid should not be used to stem the flows of migrants and asylum, it must enhance economic, human and social development, conflict prevention, state-building, good governance and the promotion of the rule of law in partner countries, they warn.
Use fresh money
MEPs regret that member states’ contributions are far from official commitments and urge them to honour their pledges. They propose that the EU’s ability to respond to crisis effectively is built in the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and suggest that the European Parliament only agrees to such future initiatives if this is reflected in the 2016 mid-term review of the MFF.
Don’t forget the poorest
The report notes that development assistance to least developed countries declined for the second year in 2014 and asks member states to make sure that aid is not diverted away from the poorest. It is essential that NGOs and international organizations are also strongly involved in all phases of the EUTF, the text says.
Report to Parliament
MEPs call on the Commission to enhance the transparency around the Fund and to systematically monitor how the money is spent. They note that the Parliament was not involved in the setup of the initiative and insist that the Commission briefs the Parliament in detail at least once every six months.
The report was adopted by 19 votes to 0 with 4 abstentions.
The EU Trust Fund for Africa was launched at the Valletta Summit on Migration in November 2015 to foster stability in twenty-three countries across three regions (the Horn of Africa; the Sahel and Lake Chad basin; North Africa) by addressing the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement. It is intended to be a development tool pooling together resources from different donors to promote economic opportunities, social development and regional security. The EU’s contribution amounts to EUR 1.8 billion and the Commission can also draw on additional funds from member states and other contributors for the same amount.