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Monthly Archives: January 2014

The efficiency of the PEGASE DFS mechanism was raised by ECA (European Court of Auditors) in paragraph 31, 40, 53, 75, 81 by discussing conditionality and the lack of performance indicators linked to PEGASE. As worded by the authors, “despite the requirements of the ENPI regulation, there is a lack of performance indicators which makes it difficult for the EEAS and the Commission to assess and demonstrate results” (paragraph 75, p33). Addressed by the ECA, the EEAS and the Commission acknowledged the necessity of recommendations (paragraph 81c, p63) in its reply to ECA, whereas in terms of conditionality it points to the Palestinian Authority, namely the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan and the Palestinian national development plan. These documents, argues the EEAS and the Commission, served as a basis for designing PEGASE and as such ‘it is a measure of conditionality’ (paragraph 31, p57 and paragraph 40, p58), even if ‘despite the requirements of the ENPI regulation, there is a lack of performance indicators which makes it difficult for the EEAS and the Commission to assess and demonstrate results’ (paragraph 40, p58). Reading these formulations it is not clear whether the existence of the documents is seen as ‘measure of conditionality’ or the content inside.

ECA (2013): European Union Direct Financial Support to the Palestinian Authority. Special Report 14/2013, http://www.eca.europa.eu/Lists/ECADocuments/SR13_14/SR13_14_EN.pdf

The European Union – the Commission and the member states – has provided more than 5.6 billion euro assistance to the Palestinian people since 1994 to support the dual objective of bringing about the two-state solution and ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since the split between the Hamas and the Fatah (2006-2007-2008), its largest programme in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS) has been PEGASE Direct Financial Support (DFS), which provided approximately €1 billion in funding from 2008 to 2012 programme by making a significant contribution to covering the PA’s salary bill. In Gaza, it literally meant ‘free money’ since civil servants have been basically received salary without even going to their workplaces.

A recent audit published in December by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) draws attention to the unsustainability of the DFS. It is needed, as noted by the authors of the report, to encourage “the PA to undertake more reforms, notably in relation to its civil service.” Since more than 70 percent of the total funding was meant to cover salaries and pensions in the WBGS for more than six years, the situation offers a new opportunity to reform the PNA. It is worthwhile to recall Tagdishi-Rad analysis which runs as follows: ‘blaming the recipient country’s domestic governance structures and economic policies for the ineffectiveness of aid provided a venue through which (…) donors could justify their continued presence and interventions in the developing world’ (Taghdisi-Rad 2011: 22). Putting aside the motives and justifications, it is even more interesting that “no performance indicators were included in the financing agreements for Pegase DFS, which makes it harder for the EEAS, the Commission and the Member States to assess the concrete results of the support.” (ECA 2013: 17). It is a question whether this generous handling of indicators applies elsewhere in the region from the perspective of the post-Arab Spring’s ‘more for more’ approach…

ECA (2013): European Union Direct Financial Support to the Palestinian Authority. Special Report 14/2013, http://www.eca.europa.eu/Lists/ECADocuments/SR13_14/SR13_14_EN.pdf

Taghdisi-Rad, S. (2011) The political economy of aid in Palestine: relief from conflict or development delayed? London: Routledge

The European Commission is committed to guarantee full transparency on the beneficiaries of funds – in line with the requirements of Article 35 of the Financial Regulations – regardless to the beneficiaries’ status. Two main sources of ‘EU money’ (those of the statistics) are the general EU (EC) budget and the European Development Fund.

Data available on the EU’s official website (financial transparency system, FTS) help us compare the size of ‘assistance’ committed to various countries (actually disbursed amounts can be found in the annual Financial Reports). Hereby, assistance is understood very broadly and contains all grants (and public procurements) that was or has been managed by the EU/EC. In addition to the official development assistance (ODA, channeled to developing countries), the term (‘assistance’) also covers grants channeled to beneficiaries within and outside the borders of the EU. There are three basic methods (channels) of implementation of external assistance: (i) centralized implementation (managed by EU authorities), (ii) decentralized implementation (by authorities in the recipient country) and (iii) joint management of funds in collaboration with an international organization. Taking a closer look at the first (i) category, the following data is available via FTS for the period 2007-2012 (data for 2013 will be available in the middle of 2014):

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The picture is far from being complete, but the number of projects managed by the EU/EC seem to have decreased significantly from 2010 to 2011, and further down to 2012 in all countries except for Israel and the PNA; even in these two cases their number decreased by ca 25% in 2012. The concentration of the money seems to have increased, especially in Egypt and Tunisia: while the number of projects (beneficiaries) decreased dramatically from 2010 to 2012 (from 129 to 26 in Egypt, 88 to 17 in Tunisia), the amount committed has remained the same (160-180 million euro/year in Egypt and ca 70 million/year in Tunisia). Jordan, Lebanon and the PNA seem to have received less both in financial terms and in terms of the number of beneficiaries between 2010 and 2012 (at least via this channel).

The message, conveyed by Taysir Khaled, a member of the PLO Executive Committee on a press conference in Ramallah says much more about the nature of aid(ing) than about the Palestinians’ negotiating positions. Repeating, again, Olav Stokke foreign aid is used as a ‘lever to promote objectives set by the donor whom and that the recipient would not otherwise have agreed to’ (Stokke 1995: 11-12). Political blackmailing is part of the aid experiment, not only in the Palestinian case. And this ‘feature’ is more relevant from the recipient’s perspective than for example, the length of roads paved or the number of schools built by donor money. Conditionality is about rejecting social values, norms and beliefs, the very being of the recipient.

The same logic would have applied to the EU-Israeli negotiations on Israel’s participation in Horizon 2020… if  the official explanation of the long-delayed agreement would not have gone as follows: ‘The negotiations were never about getting either side to subscribe to the other side’s principled positions, but about defining practical ways to allow Israel’s participation in an E.U. program governed by E.U. rules. This is what we succeeded to do’ (Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, the E.U. foreign commissioner, quoted by Science Magazin).

Adiv, Sterman (2014) ‘Kerry threatens to cut PA aid if no peace deal signed. Times of Israel, January 10, 2014  http://www.timesofisrael.com/kerry-threatened-to-cut-pa-aid-if-no-peace-deal-signed/

Cordis (2013) Israel will take part in Horizon 2020. December 2, 2013. http://cordis.europa.eu/news/rcn/36298_en.html

Rettman, A (2013) EU-Israel talks fail to agree on science funding. EU Observer, September 13, 2013. http://euobserver.com/foreign/121424

Stokke, O. ed (1995) Aid and political Conditionality. London: Frank Cass

Vogel, G (2013) European Union and Israel Reach Deal on Funding Program. Science Magazin, 27 November 2013, http://news.sciencemag.org/asiapacific/2013/11/european-union-and-israel-reach-deal-funding-program

There are too many aid beneficiaries in the recipient countries and there are two few initiatives listening to their views on foreign aid. Time to listen is a rare exception. Research results were in summarized in a book which was edited by, among others, Mary B. Anderson (also known for the ‘do no harm’ concept). Interviews were conducted in developing countries such as Afghanistan, Angola, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mali, Mindanao (Philippines), Myanmar/Burma, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thai-Burma border, Thailand, Timor-Leste, US Gulf Coast, and Zimbabwe.

Authors of the publication and the researchers (‘more than 400 Listening team members’) do believe in the merits of international assistance and do not recommend their book ‘for isolationists and cynics’ (p3). They interpret and evaluate their respondents’ views actively throughout the text warning the reader to avoid generalizations. “It is important to listen carefully to what people did and did not say. When people named dependency and powerlessness as impacts of international assistance, they were not claiming that their societies were in all respects increasingly dependent and powerless. When they noted that aid contributes to intergroup tensions, they did not claim that they inevitably would therefore go into conflict. When they noted their frustration and sense of disrespect from the processes of international assistance efforts, they did not say that all aspects of their lives were frustrated” runs the argument (Chapter 3, p31). However, reading the hundreds of opinions quoted in the book, most of them reveal frustration regardless to the topic (donor agendas and foreign policy goals, impacts of aid, reporting, participation/ownership, corruption, etc). The respondent’s views, experiences and perceptions, even if unintentionally, reminds to the critical arguments on the history, nature and implied disadvantages of foreign aid (see among others, Escobar 1994, Rist 2003, Bull and Bøås 2010). But unlike the post-developmentalist authors, the Time to listen initiative (the CDA project in general) encourages changes and transformation within the system: ‘the externally driven aid system’ should be replaced by a ‘collaborative aid system’ (p138; and Chapter 11, Conclusion) since “[p]eople want not to need international assistance … [people] want, therefore, from international assistance is a system that supports indigenous processes so that outside aid will be unnecessary” (p135). Well, first replace the word ‘people’ by ‘children’, ‘international assistance’ by ‘parents’, then delete the word ‘international’ and you will get pretty close to describe a parent-child relationship.

Anderson, M. B. et al (2012): Time to Listen. Hearing People on the Receiving End of International Aid. Cambridge, MA: CDA Collaborative Learning Projects http://www.cdacollaborative.org/media/60478/Time-to-Listen-Book.pdf

Escobar, A. (1994): Encountering Development: the making and unmaking of the third world. Princeton University Press

Rist, G (2003): The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith, London: Zed Books, 2003

Bull, B. and Bøås, M. (2010), International Development. Vol IV. Sage Library of International Relations

‘All that happened thanks to financial and other assistance from Arab regimes loyal to the US, in the hope that this Islamic input would keep Arab society free of socialist ideas and progressive projects that called for emancipation in all spheres, beginning with liberation from Western influence and extending to the unleashing of the creative energies in society’ argues Sahar Khalifeh, a Palestinian, Arab writer. The word ‘all’ refers not only to the return of mandatory veiling for women in the Islamic world but, in more general terms, it also applies to rise of the politically motivated Islamic organizations being interested in exerting ideological influence over the others. As long as the West is seen to be responsible for the gradual emerging of political Islamism (in particular Salafism) since the early 1970s and is held responsible for supporting oppressive and authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa (anywhere within its sphere of interest) simultaneously, it seems to be uneasy for cooperating with it. Any potential cooperation is difficult, even if ‘the socialists, the liberals and the pro-feminists are today closer to this West in [their] thinking and in [their] democratic and scholarly attitudes – [they are closer to the] West that plotted against the peoples of the Third World and their interests’ (Khalifeh 2011).

The question on the necessity of cooperation with the West is less and less philosophical due to the fact that the West – the EU in particular – has been interested in revising former foreign and aid policies and is overly in favour of supporting transition to democracy, at least in those sixteen countries lying in its close neighbourhood. Official documents describing the EU’s new approaches since the ‘Arab Spring’ take some sort of implicit responsibility for the mistakes committed in the past – ‘Recent events and the results of the review have shown that the EU support to political reforms in the neighbouring countries has met with limited results’ (COM 2011b: 1) – whereas the EU explicitly calls for cooperation in forms of mutual accountability, shared commitment and compliance with conditions set in order to promote democracy, human rights and good governance in its neighbourhood. Moderate people being interested in politics living in the MENA as well as in the wider EU neighbourhood have chance to choose between (i) siding with their own fellows, community, religious and political leadership by likely betraying democratic values, or (ii) cooperating with the West, EU included, in promoting democracy and human rights – by risking their own lives and challenging (questioning) the legitimacy of their own community. The choice is much less about democracy and co: it is purely about opting for the self (over the other) or for the other (over the self), which will explain (the lack of) success in the longer run.

COM (2011a) A Partnership for Democracy and Shared Responsibility with the Southern Mediterranean. Joint Communication to the European Council, the European Parliament, the Council, The European  Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. March 8, 2011, Brussels: European Commission

COM (2011b) A new response to a changing Neighbourhood. Joint Communication to the Parliament, the Council, The European  Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. May 25, 2011, Brussels: European Commission

Khalifeh, Sahar (2011): Who is Hidden Beneath the Burqa? An Appeal to the West. Qantara.de, Goethe Institute. http://en.qantara.de/content/who-is-hidden-beneath-the-burqa-an-appeal-to-the-west