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A prestigious research organiztion has criticized the European Union's foreign aid policy. In a report out Thursday the European Council on Foreign Relatons, ECFR, says the EU breaks its promises and is still using outdated models for its new aid programs. It also blames turf wars among member countries for further inefficiencies.
The hard-hitting report says the EU needs to seriously rethink how it implements its foreign aid policy.
The EU sees itself as an influential civilian power, but the study finds mixed results.
The EU has, collectively, the largest aid budget in the world. But the report says that budget is not being spent wisely, largely because of outdated practices and rivalries between some of its 27 member countries.
One of the study's authors, Daniel Korski, says too many EU members are good at making promises, but not at keeping them. "EU states have all committed to making a certain number of police officers and civilian experts available for EC missions, yet when the EU collectively decides to launch a mission it gets very hard to staff that mission. So while the EU theoretically has all these police officers and civilian experts on the books, it cannot fill the positions in its missions. That is clearly a case of EU states breaking the promise that they have given each other," he said.
Korski says the EU is still using outdated models. The program used in the Balkans was considered a success, he said, but the report finds the so-called Bosnia Template just didn't translate to many other areas, including regions in Africa.
Korski says turf wars between the European Commission and the European Council weaken the aid program. That's not the only issue. How individual states approach missions can be a problem too. "They tend to favor the missions that are close to their heart, horse-trading that goes on which may be useful, but which is really very problematic, very dangerous theaters," he said.
The report says the EU is just not fully utilising its capabilities. Korski argues Europe needs to be more committed to its civilian responsibities and afford them the same effort as its military capabilities.
The authors say they hope this report will be viewed as an opportunity for the EU to reconsider its foreign aid policy.
There's been no response yet to the study from the EU headquarters in Brussels.