Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE) calls for the European budget for foreign affairs to become more transparent and efficient. With a broad majority in favour of her report, the European Parliament today sent a clear message. It comes ahead of the new Commission proposal for the budget after 2020 that will be presented on May 2nd. Under the current budget the EU spends close to 100 billion euros on external relations.
Schaake: "It is essential that Europe continues to support political reforms, human rights and journalists under pressure, anywhere in the world. Yet there is currently a complete lack of overview and feedback about how and where this money is spent. To ascertain whether funds actually reach those in need we need the European Commission to provide much more clarity."
Schaake wants the Commission to create a database that includes all foreign policy spending. This should be accompanied by regular evaluations and audits. In addition, the European Commission, EEAS and EU delegations in third countries need to step up to break through the silo approach that is currently preventing closer cooperation.
Schaake: "The European Commission cannot answer a simple question. How much money is spent in which country and why. This is incomprehensible. We are talking about enormous amounts that need to be spent carefully. The Commission now has its work cut out for it: the creation of one, clear and transparent database that is easily accessible for everyone."
Schaake also wants the European Commission to attach clear objectives and conditions to the organisations, projects and countries to which money is disbursed.
"In order to assess spending, evaluation mechanisms need to be an integral part of the EU's external relations budget. This is essential if we want to further improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the money we spend. In addition, such mechanisms would also us to regularly check whether countries and organisations still adhere to our conditions. We cannot allow authoritarian leaders such as Erdogan dictate the beneficiaries of EU funds intended for civil society organisations in Turkey.
Not just migration management
The European Commission on May 2nd will present new proposals on the future of the EU's external relations budget. Schaake emphasises that money intended to promote human rights, democracy and rule of law abroad needs to be safeguarded and clearly earmarked. She wants to prevent the Commission from using funds intended for these objectives for migration management.
Schaake: "We cannot let short term objectives dictate our foreign policy. Increased flexibility is necessary to deal with crises. But in in the long haul, our goals should be to actually improve human rights and the rule of law in the countries around us. The Parliament is still waiting to hear from the Commission how it is planning to achieve this."