EU flag_destroyed schoolThe European Commission published its Communication on post-2015, ‘A decent life for all: from vision to collective action’, in June 2014. The EU Council is expected to agree ‘Conclusions’ in December. When the previous Communication was published in February 2013, our advice to the Council was to limit their Conclusions to six words: ‘thank you very much, we agree’. Read Simon Maxwell’s opinion on the June Communication and advice for the Italian presidency here.

In a major forthcoming report for the new EU leadership, the European Think Tanks Group (ETTG) makes the case for joined-up thinking across the institutions and policies of the EU to address five global challenges: climate change; poverty and inequality; trade and financial policy; conflict and security and democracy and human rights.

Read more here.

With elections for the European Parliament looming, we collected some key facts on the EU’s aid programme. Here are 10 things to know about EU aidLargest aid donor! Use these graphics to find out about its size, importance and spending priorities.

In May 2014, European Parliament elections will be held across Europe. Our latest paper addresses the growing awareness that tEU radical righthe next European Parliament may contain a large contingent of anti-Europe radical right parties. At the domestic level, the reality is that 21 out of the 28 EU member states have a radical right party in their political system but only in nine countries have those parties gained in popularity since 2005. Nevertheless, at the European level, radical right parties could see an almost 50% increase in their number of seats. This increase could result in a stronger influence over European decision-making, with implications for reduced aid budgets, aid tied to national interests and potentially a threat to the EU aid programme. Read the working paper here.

VotingElections to the European Parliament will take place in May this year. Yet, an oddity of the European elections is that they are out of synch with the main policy and budgetary processes of the EU. Does this suggest that the role of the new Parliament is limited; that all that is left is the job of holding the executive to account for the implementation of decisions taken by others? Have the Parliament’s guns been spiked?

In this blog, Simon Maxwell and Mikaela Gavas argue that rather than being powerless, the new MEPs have an opportunity to exert influence in various subtle ways.  They also set out a series of questions on international development that can be asked of all political party manifestos.

Read the recent manifestos from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), the Socialists & Democrats (PES) and the European People’s Party (EPP), and our summary of the 2009 manifestos, which highlights the areas of consensus and points of contention.

The European Commission issued a call for contributions to their proposed communication on ‘Strengthening the role of the private sector in achieving inclusive and sustainable growth in developing countries’. The Issue Paper touches on some of the most relevant topics in private sector development. It addresses key questions such as finance, skills training, green growth and support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as important follow-on issues such as inclusive business and the private sector as a delivery channel. According to ODI experts, however, the paper would benefit from a greater focus on the business regulatory environment, which the authors believe should be a key component of any private sector strategy. Read ODI’s submission here.

New build EthiopiaMost developing countries face a chronic deficit of infrastructure constraining economic growth rates, leaving the world’s most vulnerable communities without access to basic services and hampering attempts to achieve broad-based poverty reduction. While over £500 billion is currently invested in infrastructure every year, it has been suggested that annual infrastructure spending will need to more than double by 2020 to meet the development requirements for infrastructure. However, public finance is insufficient and private finance too volatile to bring financing up to the level required. Blended finance enables infrastructure projects to be financed that would otherwise be too costly for a single donor.

In this unique guide to ‘Blended Finance for Infrastructure and Low-Carbon Development’ written for the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Mikaela Gavas, Annalisa Prizzon and Shakira Mustaphawe provide an overview of both the theory and practice of blended finance. It examines the types of financial instruments used in blending, the rationale for the use of blending and how the European Union and the International Finance Corporation, two of the biggest players in infrastructure, have defined, structured and operationalized blending. It also assesses six challenges associated with blended finance. The guide concludes by identifying critical questions donors and Development Finance Institutions could consider when assessing the opportunity of a blended finance package.

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