Administering EU Development Policy: Between Global Commitments and Vague Accountability Structures

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. Legal framework. – II.1. The hard law: the Cotonou Convention and EU Regulations: multilateral or unilateral? – II.2. Post legislative guidance and the real world of implementing EU assistance. – II.3. The European Investment Bank: what role for voluntary policies? – III. Court and EO practice: setting the limits of procedural discretion. – IV. Audit and development co-operation: a means to ensure political accountability. – V. Thinking outside the box: towards a broader accountability concept.

Abstract: The EU Treaties give voice to the strong global role that the EU asserts and illustrate how there would not seem to be many problems of a global scale that the EU would not like to contribute to solving. Managing development policy involves the translation of these extremely broad political objectives into individual projects that receive EU funding. In this process, fundamental political questions are frequently touched upon, and policy mistakes do take place. This Article discusses how the administrative procedures used to manage development policy contribute to establishing accountability. In EU documents, reference is frequently made to “ownership” by third countries involved. However, even though some elements of the packages build on negotiations with partners, in practice all key decisions relating to the allocation of money are unilateral EU decisions. “Ownership” in this context refers primarily to a wish that third country actors would embrace the EU agenda as its own and engage actively in its execution. The key challenges emerging from this discussion would seem to relate to unclear accountability relationships, in particular as regards the extraterritorial audience: the beneficiaries of EU assistance. In short, if you repeatedly declare that you plan to save the world, it just may happen that the world will wish to hold you accountable for that commitment.

Keywords: European Union – development policy – accountability – financial audit – participation – developing countries.

European Papers, Vol. 2, 2017, No 2, pp. 617-648
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/171

* Professor of International and European Law, UEF Law School, Academy of Finland Research Fellow, Visiting fellow, EUI Law department,


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