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Critically Assess The European Union's Role As The World's Largest Donor Of Development Assistance, Are There Any Ethical Obligations Attached To This Role?

4202 words - 17 pages

Historically, the European Union (EU hereafter) has from its very beginning at the signing of the Treaty of Rome given consideration to the provision of development assistance. Unfortunately, countries receiving development assistance have until recently done so more on the basis of historical ties than on the basis of need, originating from French and British colonial ties. Many of the seemingly laudable and altruistic aims of the Yaoundé and Lome conventions failed to materialise in practice. Consequently, Lome IV saw a more acute focus upon economic and political conditionality (Holland 2002:44). This study will focus on the EU's relations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states reflecting the EU's own priority in the ACP states as recipients of development assistance (over Latin America and Asia), and how the context of the 1990s affected this priority. There are several ethical factors that must be taken into account by any donor of development assistance especially in giving genuine and fair consideration to the needs of the recipient states whilst putting aside agendas of self-interest. Of particular interest is the notion of political conditionality, and the fact that some occasions the EU has operated a system of double standards. Ultimately, the EU patchwork of development assistance to developing nations has rendered the assistance less effective than it could have been. However, the Cotonou Agreement represents an opportunity for the EU to set an example to the world in the donation of development assistance, making sure the ethical standards are set for other donors to follow.The historical context of development aid in the EU reaches back to the Treaty of Rome negotiations. France's concern for its colonial territories is the main reason any concept of development assistance was included. Under article 131 of the treaty "association" was given to those countries that had close, dependent links on a member state. Despite the limitations of the provisions in the treaty these were still progressive for their time. The accession of Britain in 1973 meant a restructuring and widening of provisions to include Caribbean and Pacific states. The focus of development policy was firmly upon countries with which member states had historical ties. This accounts for the selectivity in the EU's development policy even up to the Lome III convention: the criteria for the states receiving assistance was built upon the historical ties to member states rather than the needs of the poorest ACP and non-ACP states. This rationale, which became entrenched at the very beginning of European integration, "has taken more than four decades to begin to unravel" (Holland 2002:27).The historical basis for the provision of development assistance as described above made for a very exclusive development policy by the EU, very much focusing on the ACP states. This also had the effect of lack of consideration for states in both Latin America and...

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