Dear Secretary of State,

Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP
Secretary of State for International Development
Department for International Development
1 Palace Street
3 April 2006
Dear Secretary of State,
We are writing to you ahead of the General Affairs and External Relations Council on
10-11 April, and at a crucial stage in negotiations on resource allocation within the next
Financial Perspective, to highlight some relevant concerns. Our partners across Europe
are expressing these concerns simultaneously to their Governments.
On the Financial Perspectives, we ask you to continue to push for more funds to be
allocated for development and humanitarian aid in the negotiations for resource
allocation under Heading 4. We are also writing to the Foreign Secretary on this matter.
In 2005, the UK, with the other 24 EU Member States, made a series of welcome
commitments, embodied in the ‘European Consensus for Development’. Furthermore,
the UK Government has recently reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that the
commitments are turned into action (Gleneagles Implementation Plan for Africa February
2006 Update, and Implementation of Gleneagles, March 2006). These decisions anchor
the EU’s responsibility to honour its commitments in the allocation of resources to
development cooperation.
Regrettably, however, negotiations on the allocation of resources between the external
actions financing instruments tell a different story. The Development instrument,
designed to deliver on the EU’s pledges towards achieving the Millennium Development
Goals and eradicating global poverty, has the lowest growth rate out of all EU external
actions. As well as sending a signal to the rest of the world that development
cooperation is not a priority for the EU, this is inconsistent with the 2005 commitments
and with the Council agreement on the Financial Perspectives 2007-2013, under the UK
Presidency. This agreement stipulated that “the Union should ensure that the relevant
conclusions of the Council (GAERC) of 21-22 November 2005 on EU official
development assistance are taken into account in allocating such assistance between
beneficiary countries.”
We do not underestimate the importance and challenges of reaching Member State
agreement on the future financing of EU external actions. We are clear however that the
current proposed level of funding and the growth rates of EC development and
humanitarian budgets would undermine the achievements already won on development
in 2005, and in particular reduce Europe’s capacity to play its role in reaching the
Millennium Development Goals and ending global poverty. The European Community
should be adequately funded to continue its important role as a global aid donor.
In addition, for these development commitments to be met, the Financial Perspectives
must establish an instrument for development cooperation targeting only those countries
in need of development assistance and based solely on Article 179 of the EU Treaty.
Concerning the April GAERC, we ask you to support the establishment of a strong
monitoring mechanism for the objectives and indicators of the Paris Declaration on Aid
Effectiveness, and to support increased EU aid coordination and the adoption of
concrete measures and targets to improve the effectiveness of development aid. We
also ask you to use your influence to build support for the work programme on policy
coherence amongst other member states EU Member States.
Furthermore, we would like to stress that the negotiations on the 10th European
Development Fund should be conducted in a transparent manner. In particular the
Commission should make public its proposals on aid allocation criteria and aid
programming so that these may be subject to dialogue with concerned actors, including
recipients. This is crucial in order to respect the fundamental principles of national
ownership of development policies and of civil society participation (including of the
poorest and most marginalised groups such as older people, people with disabilities,
ethnic minorities and those discriminated against on the basis of descent) in the setting
of development priorities.
Finally, with regard to the forthcoming review of the negotiations of Economic
Partnership Agreement (EPAs), we urge you to take all possible steps to ensure that it is
full and comprehensive, and that the review process respects the Cotonou Agreement’s
commitments on the participation of both ACP and EU non-state actors and civil society.
The EPA review should provide for a reality check on current achievements and
expectations in relation to the sustainable development objectives enshrined in the
Cotonou Agreement.
We hope that you will support our concerns and will assert the above points in Council
discussions. We wish you a successful Council meeting and look forward to hearing
from you.
Kind regards,
Richard Bennett,
General Secretary,
On behalf of:
Andrew Scott
Barbara Stocking
Caroline Harper
Charles Badenoch
Chris Bain
David Ould
Daleep Mukarji
Graham Bennett
Jane C Salmonson
Matthew Frost
Patricia Hindmarsh
Paul Eavis
Richard Miller
Stephen Turner
Todd Petersen
Acting Chief Executive
Chief Executive
Chief Executive
Executive Director
Chief Executive
Director External Relations
Deputy Director
Chief Executive
Practical Action
Sightsavers International
World Vision UK
Anti-Slavery International
Christian Aid
One World Action
Mercy Corps
Marie Stopes International
ActionAid UK
HelpAge International
Gareth Thomas, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International
Nick Dyer, Head of the EU Department, Department for International