Myths and facts about EU budget and external cooperation
Currently, when EU institutions are working on the new financial framework 2014-2020, let's take a look how the EU budget makes Europe count in the world.
The added value of EU external assistance
Pursuing 28 separate foreign policies and external action, (i.e. EU plus Member States acting bilaterally) makes less and less sense in a globalised world; joining forces has become crucial. By acting jointly, the EU can weigh in as a single and more powerful actor on a range of issues where national action offers less impact and less scope. This also means that resources can be pooled and used together on a broad range of policies and instruments.
Acting together enables all Member States to benefit from the EU’s wide geographical representation in third countries which is unmatched by any individual Member State. Finally, the EU, in addressing specific challenges can make use of a wide range of instruments and measures which individual countries are often unable to match. The EU has long experience in mobilising long-term and predictable aid, which are both essential factors to achieve sustainability in development. It also maintains a high degree of neutrality and impartiality in delivering humanitarian assistance. The EU has a network of international agreements with partners and organizations all over the world, not matched by individual Member States, which gives to all of them influence in almost all fields of international relations. With 27 Member States acting within common policies and strategies, the EU alone has the critical weight to respond to global challenges, such as poverty reduction, climate change, managing migration and stability. The EU as a global player has a credibility and a neutrality which is unmatched by individual Member States when it comes to human rights, electoral observation, governance and crisis resolution.
Overall, the EU's comparative advantage over national action is based on its global field presence, its wide-ranging expertise, its supranational nature, its role as facilitator of coordination, and to the economies of scale.
The EU and its Member States provide more than half of global development assistance (56%). The EU is committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals on time by the end of 2015.
In the current economic context, it makes more sense than ever to improve the coordination of development aid to maximise the impact while avoiding duplicating efforts and losing money. Acting through the EU can actually save money for Member States which could add up to potential savings of up to €5 billion a year, according to a recent study (Aid Effectiveness: the Benefits of Going Ahead, 2011). Working with the EU is also cheaper. Administrative costs – estimated at 5.4% on the basis of 2009 data - are lower than the average administrative costs of the principal donors for bilateral aid. The administrative rules that apply are intended to make sure that EU taxpayers' money is properly spent, using strict criteria which can be monitored. The EU stands for transparency and good management.
Furthermore, development aid is an investment for all Europeans. Thanks to development cooperation, some issues can be tackled in advance and save money. By investing in developing countries we address issues such as migration, climate change, food security, piracy, sexual violence and many others. It is often far cheaper to eliminate the root causes of poverty than to deal with its symptoms further down the line.