Discussions on the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), one of the three pillars of the European External Investment Plan (EIP), continue apace.
This key legislative proposal intends to scale-up private and public investment and enhance economic prospects in the EU neighbourhood and Africa, as a mean to contribute to sustainable development. Yet whether it lives up to this promise remains to be seen...
An instrument of foreign policy?
The framing and rationale for the EIP seems to be tied to a particularly negative formulation of and understanding of migration (as a negative phenomenon to be stopped at all costs) as well as a potentially flawed understanding of the interaction between development and migration. As such, the EIP risks being seen more as an instrument of EU foreign policy than as a development instrument.
No guarantee of decent and green jobs
More fundamentally, the proposal seem to make some challenging and perhaps unsubstantiated claims assuming a necessary link between investment, job creation, growth, and development. Investment and economic growth do not automatically lead to human or social development, nor is there any automatic guarantee that the jobs created could actually provide a decent living and resilient future prospects for the local people. It is especially difficult to establish such links in fragile states.
The EIP does not contain sufficient commitment or safeguards to ensure decent and ‘green’ work for those who need it most, nor does it adequately reflect international climate objectives to align financial flows with low-greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development.
More thinking and learning is needed to ensure that the EFSD can deliver genuine and sustainable long-term human and social development within planetary boundaries and that it is targeted at the people and places that most need it.
Becoming a pro-poor instrument
The European Parliament is currently discussing its position on the instrument. It therefore has an important role to play in ensuring that the EFSD doesn’t serve European migration control policies and short-term foreign policy objectives.
This instrument has the potential to become a strategic pro-poor instrument, supporting local micro-, small- and medium-sized entreprises, targeting areas which can help achieve sustainable development outcome.
Members of the European Parliament must raise their voice and agree on a strong common position, where the EIP, and EFSD, contribute to sustainable, inclusive economies and decent job creation with a particular focus on gender equality and empowerment of women and youth.