With six months left before the deadline, the EU is still negotiating both its multi-annual budget as well as the EDF for 2014-2020. TheEquation EC has indicated that it intends to further strengthen the focus of the EDF on the poorest countries, but has revealed few details of how it intends to do this.

This background paper by Mira Markova, explores the possible approaches the EC could take to determine the 11th EDF aid allocations; their respective implications for the future of development cooperation with the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states; and the changing levels of development assistance to high-income and upper-middle-income countries (more commonly referred to as differentiation).

Mikaela Gavas wrote a commentary on Owen Barder’s article on the Centre for Global Development’s ‘Commitment to Development Index’ (CDI), which was published in Europe’s World. She argues that ‘the CDI could arguably be more proactive in raising awareness of the EU’s and its member states’ track record, and in stimulating greater debate on the specific policies needed to bring about change’.

The European Commission proposed policy of ‘differentiation’ aims to recalibrate aid and development cooperation in middle-incoUrbanisation%20in%20Asia_jpgme countries. The policy responds directly to recent changes in global poverty and wealth patterns, economic flows and geopolitical realities. In an increasingly heterogeneous development landscape, the EU has initiated a multifaceted approach in an effort to ‘differentiate’ between the diverging needs and capacities of developing countries.

Differentiation is a key feature of the EU’s new development strategy, An Agenda for Change, and will shape the future of EU development cooperation over its multi-year budget period that will run from 2014 to 2020 (European Commission, 2011a). The policy will determine the allocation of EU development aid to developing countries, shape decisions on the type of modalities used and the sector focus in middle-income countries, and will ultimately change the EU’s relations with these countries.

In a recent background note , Sian Herbert provides an overview of the state of play of negotiations on differentiation, with a focus on the Development Cooperation Instrument and the European Development Fund.

Read the paper here.

In his latest blog, Simon Maxwell asks whether the EU can deliver joined-up thinking and action in international development. He recommends eight changes which should be recommended by the review of the EU’s external affairs currently underway. Read the blog here.

The EU first aLifting women out of povertyrticulated its policy commitment to gender equality in development cooperation in 1995, following the Beijing UN Women’s Conference, and has redefined it several times since.

A growing awareness of the gap between EU policy and practice on gender equality on the part of several Member States led the European Commission to draft an operational framework to strengthen implementation: the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development (Gender Action Plan). The EU recognised that, despite progress over recent decades, women and girls continue to make up the large majority of the world’s poorest, and women are underrepresented in governments and decision-making bodies, have fewer opportunities and receive lower pay than men in labour and financial markets. There was also concern that the financial and economic crisis could hamper progress already achieved towards gender equality. The Gender Action Plan was included as an Annex to the 2010 Council Conclusions on the MDGs, raising its profile and linking gender equality firmly, if narrowly, to achievement of the MDGs.

In a recent EDCSP research report, Helen O’Connell focuses on the implementation of the Gender Action Plan. The paper explores what has been achieved, identifies challenges and proposes a series of actions to accelerate progress. It also assesses the extent to which the Action Plan remains up to date and, in particular, the extent to which it includes a central economic perspective.

Read the paper here.

The need for greater differentiation between partner countries and the extent to which middle-income countries (MICs) should continue to receive EU aid have become contentious issues in the EU’s ongoing process of modernising EU development policy. While there is wide acknowledgement that a changing development landscape requires donor agencies to better adapt their approaches to the varying levels of development of partner countries (‘differentiation’), there seems to be less agreement on the nature of these changes and how exactly the EU should respond to them.

Svea Koch and Siân Herbert examine this dilemma in a blog.

Simon Maxwell and Mikaela Gavas analyse the Conclusions regarding the new EU development policy, ‘Agenda for Change’, published by the EU Foreign Affairs Council  in October 2011. They ask what has been gained and lost in the process, and whether it is now possible to see what kind of settlement will be reached when the Multi-Annual Financial Framework for 2014-20 is agreed. Read their opinion here.

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