Policy Memo no. 48, CRPE Coordinators: Dragoș Dinu, Alexandra Toderiţă
After joining the European Union, the EU countries are committed to becoming international development donors. This statute requires bilateral and multilateral assistance to developing states in economic development, strengthening democracy, rule of law etc.
In 2004 and 2007, six Central and Eastern European countries, including Romania, have assumed this role, once with their EU integration. Gradually, the need to strengthen the foreign policy tool, collaboration and synergies in projects implemented became obvious in the Eastern area, where the states of the Visegrad Group – Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia – are consolidating their status as donors.
In the “Official Development Assistance offered by new donor states in Central and Eastern Europe. A comparative approach of Visegrad countries, Romania and Bulgaria” report (currently only available in English), the Romanian Center for European Polices has studied the legal and procedural framework in which these countries provide development assistance.
The report identifies a number of common issues that affect the development and implementation of ODA policy in these countries (limited political support, poor coordination capacity, tend to finance specific actions with minor impact to the customer, reluctance to join forces with donors with similar profile in the region).
To address these shortcomings, the study proposes concrete ideas designed to support greater cooperation between the new Member States in this field:
1. ODA policy coordination is needed. Foreign Ministries of the new EU countries (Visegrad countries, Romania and Bulgaria can serve as a starting point) should engage in an extensive consultation process in achieving the medium-term ODA strategies. These consultations should be held separately from those of the EU and be focused on priority areas, beneficiary countries, types of intervention and ongoing projects.
2. Depending on previous experience and regional profile, the attribution of leadership of a country in a particular area of expertise would be useful. (e.g. – Slovakia on financial management, Romania on child protection etc.).
3. The countries taken into consideration should join forces and provide joint funding for large projects with significant impact. In this sense, performance indicators could be established (eg – each of the 6 states must contribute to at least one project with a total budget exceeding 1.5 million, implemented in partnership with at least 6 countries over a period of 2 years).
4. Exchange of experience and transfer of best practices is required between the new Member States in the management of ODA policy on topics such as medium-term care planning, the role of the implementing agency, embassy support, monitoring and evaluation of assistance provided.
The study is published in the “Enhancing the capacity of Visegrad states, Romania and Bulgaria to act as ODA donors in the Black Sea Region” project, funded by the German Marshall Fund, through the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation.