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EU Member States' real plans revealed?

15 December 2016
Caught on camera: Meeting notes* reveal EU Member States plans to ‘hijack’ new Sustainable Development Fund

Do these meeting notes* reveal EU Member States real motives behind the new European Fund for Sustainable Development?

Just days after EU Member States adopted their official position on the proposed European Fund for Sustainable Development, these meeting notes* appear to reveal their true objectives.

In a handwritten document* which states that “the devil is in the detail”, stopping irregular migration to Europe is highlighted as one of the principle objectives of the Fund, which forms the first pillar of the External Investment Plan.

Officially, the Fund aims to “tackle the root causes of irregular migration”.

The revelation comes as EU leaders meet at a summit in Brussels, where a discussion of the External Investment Plan is on the agenda.

Some of the larger Member States appear to be pushing the increased emphasis on migration control. Promoting European private sector interests in partner countries is also outlined as one of the Fund’s “unofficial” objectives.

Meanwhile, safeguards on issues such as respect for human rights, environmental protection, and transparency and accountability are “not priority” – “CSR [corporate social responsibility] sufficient”, according to the document*.

It seems that not all Member States are on the same page, however, with the notes* revealing concerns from some about the push for “less for less” and the “hijacking” of the development agenda.

These concerns are shared by civil society organisations, who have voiced fears that this is the latest in a long-line of policies and instruments being repurposed to reflect Member States self-interest.

Alexandra Makaroff, Plan International’s EU Representative, said the notes* reveal “the rather misguided motives” of EU Member States and Institutions.

“The objective of this fund should be obvious from its name – it is the European Fund for Sustainable Development.

“But Member States seem to be missing the point. They seem to be more concerned with halting irregular migration to Europe on the one hand, and the promotion of European private investments abroad on the other hand.”

What the European Parliament will make of the proposal remains to be seen. The assembly has co-legislative power with the Council, and MEPs are currently in the midst of deciding their position.

They will be expected to adopt a strong position which puts sustainable development and poverty eradication at the heart of the proposal, rather than on a par with migration control, as its name suggests.

Makaroff is calling on the Parliament to be a strong ally. “The European Parliament can still push back on the Council’s position. They must insist that this Fund is, first and foremost, an instrument to promote sustainable development – not a foreign policy instrument.”

Negotiations will kick off in earnest in the New Year, with final adoption expected at the May Foreign Affairs Council. Makaroff is optimistic about the outcome.

“We fully expect to push back the Council’s position and succeed in putting poverty reduction at the heart of the European Fund for Sustainable Development – not the EU’s own self-interests.”

Editor's notes

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* DISCLAIMER: These notes are fake. They are not associated with any particular EU Member State or Institution. However, the contents are illustrative both the position Member States have adopted and the concerns expressed by civil society organisations about the underlying motives and rationale behind the European Fund for Sustainable Development. These concerns have already been shared with all relevant EU institutions.