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Re-shaping Global Development: will Europe Lead?





The Report of the Independent Vision Group on European Development Cooperation was published on 6 May. It can be viewed here. A summary is below. The Report has also been introduced in an article by Margaret Jay and me in OpenDemocracy, 'How to stop Christopher Columbus turning in his grave'.

The Independent Vision Group is chaired by Baroness Margaret Jay. Other members are:

Thijs Berman


Member of the European Parliament since 2004, belonging to the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.  Head of the Dutch Delegation of the S-D Group. He was the Rapporteur in the European Parliament, leading work on the Regulation covering the Development Cooperation instrument for the period 2014-20.

Bengt Braun


Vice-chair, Bonnier AB. Former President & CEO of Bonnier AB and former Chair and now Senior Ambassador of World Association of Newspapers.

Baroness Margaret Jay


Former Cabinet Minister, UK. Former Chair of the Overseas Development Institute. Founder Director of the National Aids Trust

Filip Kaczmarek


Member of the European Parliament since 2004, belonging to the European People's Party. Since 2009 he has been an EPP coordinator in the Development Committee and ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. He was an EP rapporteur on the post-2015 development framework and represented the EP as a Head of the Delegation to UNGA's Special Event
to follow up efforts made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Louka Katseli


Professor of International Economics and Development at the Department of Economics of the National Kapodistrian University of Athens (1987-present). She has served as Greece’s Minister of Labor and Social Security (2010–2011), Minister of Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping (2009–2010) and a member of the Hellenic Parliament (2007-2012). She has served as Director of the OECDOrganisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Development Centre (2003-2007), member and vice-president of the UN Committee for Development Policy (1996–1999) and Director of the Centre for Planning and Economic Research (1983-1986). She has been elected President of a new party in Greece, “The Social Pact”.

Simon Maxwell


Former Director, Overseas Development Institute (1997-2009). Worked overseas for ten years, in Kenya, India and Bolivia, and for fifteen years at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. Member, World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Poverty and Sustainable Development. Former President of the Development Studies Association of the UK and Ireland.

Dirk Messner


Director, German Development Institute, Co-Director of the Centre for Advanced Studies on Global Cooperation Research at the University Duisburg-Essen, Co-Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU)

Ana Palacio


Former Member of the European Parliament (1994-2002). She was Minister of Foreign Affairs (2002-2004) and Senior Vice-President and General Counsel of the World Bank (2006 – 2008).

Laurence Tubiana


Director, Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales, Paris, and Professor at the School of International Affairs of Sciences Po, Paris. She chairs the Board of the Agence Francaise de Développement.

Kevin Watkins


Executive Director, Overseas Development Institute, London. He was Head of Research at Oxfam UK and from 2004-2008 Director of the United Nations Development Programme Human Development Report.


Special thanks to:

Mikaela Gavas


Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute, London, UK


In this paper we make an argument about the global role of the European Union (EU), especially in its relations with the developing world. These are a source of strength for Europe and a major determinant of our own future welfare and resilience. The EUEuropean Union needs a new beginning which recognises the reality of mutual inter-dependence and the benefits of more effective and global collective action.

Europe is making only a slow and tentative recovery from the financial crisis, and is fearful of external risks - economic, environmental and political. This is reflected in worries about migration, conflict and trade, all of which distort domestic policies in several countries. There is also concern that Europe will carry a large share of the responsibility for curbing carbon emissions.

However, a more positive attitude is justified. Just as developing countries can achieve sustainable development when the external environment is favourable, so can countries in the EU. Growth in developing countries creates markets. Inclusive development promotes human security. The strengthening of institutions in developing countries increases the probability that the environment will be well-managed. A more cohesive and cooperative international community decreases the contagion of conflict, the spread of disease or the disruption caused by financial crises. Migration from developing countries, suitably managed, brings to Europe the benefit of skills, innovation and entrepreneurship.

This suggests a new approach to international development. The moment is right, as a new global framework is being designed for the period after 2015, a successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals.

Poverty reduction in the poorest countries remains the core priority. However, there are fewer such countries and they are more likely to be characterised by conflict or state fragility. There are only 36 countries on the World Bank’s list of low income countries, and the number is falling steadily. At the same time, new priorities have emerged, like rising inequality, financial instability and climate change, which are cross-country in nature and affect rich and middle income as well as poor countries. The focus of development cooperation is beginning to shift - from targeted poverty programmes to addressing the global problems which affect us all.

We see three of these global problems confronting the world in the coming decades.

First, the challenge of building a world economy which creates livelihoods for all – an inclusive globalisation which allows people everywhere to fulfil their aspirations.

Second, the challenge of sustainability, dealing with climate change, but also protecting water supplies, air quality, oceans, forests and biodiversity.

Third, the challenge of security, in the broadest sense: whether tackling violence in all its forms, building defences against natural disasters, or protecting populations from financial, food or fuel shocks that undermine welfare and reverse progress.

These are priorities shared with emerging economies, which have become the motor of global growth, as well as significant players in global institutions. The growing importance of the G20 illustrates the change in global dynamics. The role of India, China and other large developing countries has been pivotal in the UN climate talks. At the same time, countries like China, India, Brazil, Turkey, and those in the Gulf have become important aid donors.

New partnerships must be central. For countries in Europe, joint action within the context of the European Union provides an opportunity – not necessarily the only opportunity – to amplify influence and use it more effectively. But benign outcomes are not pre-determined. The EUEuropean Union can make positive contributions. It has taken initiatives across a range of policy areas, from trade to foreign policy, and its aid programmes score well in international comparisons. However, it will need to re-think and re-organise to make sure it is relevant for the future.

The time is right to re-think. In 2014, European citizens will elect a new European Parliament, and the Parliament in turn will approve a new leadership team, including the President of the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. In 2015, the world will be asked to agree global goals to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, and will face a make-or-break moment for the climate at the UN talks in Paris.


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