Annual report on EC aid reviews progress towards better delivery

The European Commission disbursed € 8.5 billion in aid during 2007, representing 9% of total Community expenditures, according to the recently released annual report on EC aid. Top regions for EC assistance were Sub-Saharan Africa (33%), Asia (17%), and Europe (16%); and 23% of aid was given through budget support. In its review of the results of the year’s evaluations of EC aid, the report notes several major positive impacts e.g. on the social sectors in India, economic stability in Jordan and Mozambique, the water sector in Jordan, food security in Mozambique, and economic integration in Central America. However, there is a lack of sustainability in implementation strategies, as ensuring ownership by partner country stakeholders receives insufficient attention. Recurrent weaknesses in efficiency are reported to be due to delays in implementation, lack of flexibility and cumbersome procedures which also limit the effectiveness of Commission actions.

While the high quality of projects within some sectors (such as rural development) is recognized, there is often a poor impact on sectoral policy of partner countries. An impressive increase in aid expenditures has been realised, but at the risk of compromising the quality of the interventions. Good results regarding devolution, especially when delegations are flexible enough to adapt to the specific context, are counterbalanced by overly fragmented visions and insufficient coordination among sectors in delegations. The Commission has a particular value added in its regional programming; however, the linkage between national and regional programmes is often weak.

Drawing upon on the EC’s Results Oriented Monitoring system, the report concludes that relevance has increased as devolution has led to projects that respond better to local needs. However, problems with predictability of funds hinder both efficiency and the achievement of results (effectiveness). Ex-post monitoring has demonstrated that, in general, lessons are not being applied. Although most projects have detailed reporting systems, there are very few cases of projects that systematically record their positive and negative experiences with a view to identifying the most appropriate guidance. This lack of capacity to identify and acknowledge how success has been achieved means that the same errors are continuously repeated. In 2008, the EC will work on developing a system for better collecting and disseminating transferable lessons and best practices.
Full report: