Evaluation of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) drafted

Draft Evaluation Report on External Financing Instruments – 11th European Development Fund (EDF), download from https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/draft-evaluation-report-external-financing-instruments-11th-european-development-fund-edf_en

A Consortium led by DAI carried out an external performance review of the European Development Fund (EDF). It examines the fitness for purpose of EDF11 as an instrument for development cooperation. The EDF focuses on economic, social and human development as well as regional cooperation and integration and is one of nine External Financing Instruments (EFIs) of the European Union (EU). The draft is published for consultations.

Summary of main conclusions

The EDF faces pressure to tackle an increasing number of demands, some of which can be difficult to align with the EDF’s core values/founding principles of “poverty eradication” and “partnership” with ACP countries. There is a tension between what the EDF was designed to do and what it is expected to do today – with the EDF being asked to deliver on several other EU agendas which are overriding the development agenda. The EDF11 has accommodated some of these new priorities, but there is a real threat that EDF will be pushed into responding to agendas that distance it from its primary objective of poverty alleviation, which are difficult to reconcile with the EDF’s core values and compromise what it does well. Resolving this tension should be a key priority.

As an instrument the EDF has served well, and continues to serve well. It has provided an anchor in a fast-changing environment through its seven-year planning horizon, its continued support and alignment to national needs. The downside of this steadfastness is the rigidity of the EDF, which is insufficiently able to accommodate changes within the seven-year timeframe.

The EDF11 brought an increased attention to complementarities in planning, and project design processes are likely to limit duplications and increase coordination across instruments and cooperation mechanisms. However, complementarity of EU actions remains challenging, particularly for centrally managed budget lines. The EDF does not consistently establish solid synergies across national, regional and intra-ACP cooperation.

The EDF has a unique acknowledged added value that goes beyond its unmatched size, use of different aid modalities and geographical spread. It promotes EU values, tackles issues at supranational level, is neutral and reliable. It has not made the most of its potential position in the (iii) aid landscape and has tended to use a one-size-fits-all approach that has not sufficiently taken account of the specificities of some of its partner countries and territories. It has also failed to make further progress on partnership principles or to widen these to include non-state actors.

Efficiency measures under EDF11 have produced some changes that are likely to alleviate the administrative burden and strengthen the instrument’s financial performance. These changes have had implications for support to CSOs and have seen the EDF becoming increasingly a cooperation administrator and less a hands-on player. This is likely to have a negative impact on the effectiveness of dialogue, EU leadership at country level, quality assurance, accountability and visibility. Limitations in monitoring and evaluation systems are seriously constraining the EDF’s ability to report on effectiveness, and hence its accountability and lesson learning capacities. This is the result of a lack of results orientation and limited capacities. In addition, evaluation arrangements are at times very limited, particularly for regional and intra-ACP cooperation.

Flags

Recommendations

R 1: Restore the spirit of Cotonou’s partnership principle by instituting a democratic ownership of

R 2: Focus efforts on increasing accountability for results

R 3: Introduce more flexibility for EDF programmes to be adapted to needs

R 4: Base programming on a political economy analysis and keep programming choices at country level

R 5: Improve sustainability of EU support

R 6: Ensure the coherence of EDF tools and implementation modalities with the instrument’s core values and principles

R 7: Strengthen the effectiveness of regional and intra-ACP cooperation

R 8: Conduct a structured review of the impact of the various programming, implementation and monitoring changes under the EDF11 and take corrective action where necessary

R 9: Ensure complementarity and synergies of EDF and DCI programmes by entrusting the management of all projects and programmes to EUDs

R 10: Increase transparency and improve clarity of the role of different actors in the programming and project cycle for the EDF

R 11: Increase the impact of the administrative and financial simplification process while preventing negative spill-overs attention to improving systems in a manner that remains user-friendly and efficient.

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