Blog AnalysisEU Institutions

EuropeAid. An office not really exterior

European aid logo(B2 archive *) Created in early 2001, the EuropeAid cooperation office must gradually manage all European aid to the rest of the world. Neither external nor truly internal, this organization risks accumulating the disadvantages of both.

A new acronym in the Brussels Landerneau

A new acronym has appeared since January 1, 2001, in the small European world. EuropeAid was, in fact, created on December 21 by the European Commission to manage the majority of Community external aid. A necessity for the commissioner in charge of humanitarian aid, the Dane Poul Nielson: “ We must at all costs increase the effectiveness of our development cooperation on a global scale."

The European budget = 1/10th of the global development aid budget

The European Commission today provides more than 10% of all official development assistance in the world, or 9,6 billion euros (more than 60 billion francs). This represents a total greater than the loans granted by the World Bank under preferential conditions. We therefore need, specifies the commissioner, “ increase the capacity of our administration to work in a more coherent manner ».

The appearance of an external agency

This new organization thus strangely resembles an external agency. EuropeAid is in fact an administrative structure, external to the administration of the European Commission, which has vertical competence over a defined policy. She can control the entire development project cycle, from the identification of projects to the monitoring of their implementation and their evaluation. European aid today covers very varied areas: reconstruction after a conflict, strengthening democratic institutions, macro-economic aid, monitoring the proper functioning of elections, mine clearance and human rights. man who require continuity in action.

Important, technical and financial tasks

Gradually, EuropeAid will thus become responsible for the technical and financial aspects of most of the European Union's external assistance programmes, such as TACIS (republics of the former USSR) and MEDA (Mediterranean) or the European development which covers most African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP group) countries. Only the programs intended for other European countries (Phare for Central Europe, Cara for the Balkans) continue to be managed directly by the European Commission.

…but not really an autonomous agency

EuropeAid is not really an agency, however, as it operates directly under the authority of the European Commission. Its Board of Directors is chaired by the Commissioner responsible for external relations, the Englishman Chris Patten and its general administrator is none other than Commissioner Poul Nielson, Commissioners Gunter Verheugen (enlargement), Pascal Lamy (trade) and Pedro Solbes Mira (economy) being also members of this council. And, to fulfill these missions, EuropeAid should have a total staff of 2001 people by the end of 1, mainly from the external relations service (former DG I and DG VIII), around half of whom will work in the delegations. .

Objective: deconcentrate, decentralize

The fact remains that one of the main characteristics of this structure is the deconcentration, even the decentralization of important responsibilities. “ Everything that can be better managed and decided on the spot should not be managed or decided in Brussels » is the opinion of the Prodi cabinet. This transfer takes place in two directions. On the one hand, the 128 delegations that the European Commission has around the world will be entrusted with new responsibilities (budgetary skills, technical expertise and necessary personnel) in a process known as “deconcentration”. On the other hand, the beneficiary States will have the management of certain programs.

Financial control requirements

These changes respond to the requirements of the Court of Auditors “, we estimate at Chris Patten. The budgetary surveillance body has, in fact, on several occasions, in numerous reports, criticized both the slowness and the extreme centralization of European aid, particularly in developing countries and in European countries from the east. It remains to be seen whether this reform could remedy these remarks. And above all, if it does not risk attracting new remonstrances, particularly from the point of view of financial monitoring and control.

(*° article published in La Tribune April 2001

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).