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Foreign Affairs Council for Development

Volume 611: debated on Thursday 26 May 2016

My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Baroness Verma) has made the following statement:

On 12 May, I attended the Foreign Affairs Council for Development in Brussels. The meeting was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini. She also hosted a joint lunch with the Afghan Minister of Finance, Eklil Hakimi, which discussed the preparations for the upcoming Brussels conference on Afghanistan, in September this year. A provisional report of the meeting and conclusions adopted will be deposited in the Library of the House for the convenience of members.

Revision of the European Consensus of Development in light of the 2030 agenda

The Council discussed the prospects of updating the 2005 European Consensus on Development—the EU’s overarching development strategy. Discussion of a new European Consensus on Development in light of Agenda 2030 focused on the links between development policy and the areas of security, humanitarian, migration. I led calls for a long-term approach, with our commitment to 0.7% and the “Beyond Aid” agenda at the heart of implementation. Also discussed was the need for modernised, innovative financial instruments, with general support for a greater role for the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Trade, private sector and sustainable development

Council conclusions on global value chains, which the UK had strongly supported, were adopted with agreement on the integral role of the private sector and trade for sustainable development. The garment initiative was held up by Development Commissioner Mimica as a good example of a multi-stakeholder and the “policy coherence for development” approach. I highlighted the UK’s promotion of the involvement of the private sector in sustainable development in recent years, and argued that it is clear that to achieve the 2030 Vision for sustainable development more investment capital is needed from the private sector.

Afghanistan conference

Discussions were held on the forthcoming Brussels conference on Afghanistan, and Council conclusions on this subject were adopted with the UK’s full support. The Brussels conference on Afghanistan in October 2016 is a key opportunity for the international community to reaffirm their ongoing commitment to Afghanistan’s security and development. During the lunchtime session, Afghan Finance Minister Hakimi presented the Afghan National Unity Government’s new national development strategy to the Council.

Joint programming

Council conclusions on joint programming were agreed, which stated that the approach will remain voluntary. I emphasised the point that local context is key when discussing the suitability of a particular programme. Consideration of this should drive decisions, and joint programming should complement, not replace, bilateral relationships and programmes. This view was echoed by a number of other member states and supported by the Council conclusions.

Migration and development

Council conclusions on forced displacement were agreed by the Council. More broadly on the subject of migration, Commissioner Mimica said that the emergency trust fund for Africa agreed at the Valetta summit in November 2015 was an important tool, and urged member states to support and contribute to it. I set out the UK’s support for the trust fund, but called for greater consistency in its operation, as well as an ongoing commitment to strong oversight. I also noted that the EIB could play a key role in responding to the causes of the migration crisis.

Preparation of the World Humanitarian summit

Conclusions were adopted by the Council concerning preparations for the World Humanitarian summit, which took place from 23-24 May in Istanbul. It was the first global summit on humanitarian issues, and it came at a time of unprecedented need. The Council were agreed that the summit would be an important opportunity to take ambitious and practical steps that will drive real change on the ground.

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