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European Aid Coordination in Africa: Is the Commission Calling the Tune?

Chapter in book
Authors Sarah Delputte
Fredrik Söderbaum
Published in Stefan Gänzle, Davina Makhan & Sven Grimm (eds.), The European Union and Global Development: An ‘Enlightened Superpower’ in the Making?
Pages 37-56
ISBN 9780230319677
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Place of publication Basingstoke
Publication year 2012
Published at Gothenburg Centre for Globalization and Development (GCGD)
School of Global Studies
Pages 37-56
Language en
Subject categories Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies), Globalization Studies


Although there is much rhetoric about that the EU is the world’s biggest aid player, its role as an “actor” in the field of development is ambiguous and sometimes even counterproductive. While, on the one hand, the EU plays a instrumental role in the international policy discussion in multilateral fora and on global development policy (e.g. Paris Agenda on Aid Effectiveness, Millennium Development Goals, poverty reduction programmes, budget support etc.), on the other hand, the EU often fails to act as one ‘on the ground’ in the developing countries. In fact, in contrast to its official policy the EU is not a unified actor or a functioning aid coordination mechanism, at least when focus is placed on development cooperation in Africa. In practice the European Commission often acts as “the 28th” member state, conducting its own aid policies, rather than serving as the hub for donor coordination within the EU as a whole. The much talked about European Consensus on Development Policy is, as one donor official in an EU member state put it, “ice thin.” Although a functionalist perspective underpins much of the policy debate and official proclamations of how EU policy should look, it does not, however, explain the general lack of European donor coordination occurring on the ground, where it is really needed. This chapter shows that the EU’s largely ineffective coordination strategies in Africa have not been primarily driven by a concern to increase aid effectiveness according to a functional logic, but are instead driven by two alternative explanations, namely ‘identity’ and ‘bureaucratic politics’. When policies are driven by identity and bureaucratic politics rather than by functional objectives, the opportunities for compromise and for reaching common ground are reduced.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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