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Practical European cooperation

European non-government organisations – mediators and advisers


Effective and independent non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in EU member states and in developing countries are a major building brick in the economic and social development of countries receiving assistance. The Commission and the Council agree with this. A recent decision of the Council on involving non-state actors in EU development policy paves the way for NGOs in developing countries to be the focus of support in future. In 2000, the African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP states) too undertook to involve non-state actors to a greater extent in the general development policy of the EU under the provisions of the Cotonou Agreement.

The EU has to date supported various NGOs within the scope of smaller-scale activities and initiatives. NGOs also have access to food and emergency aid funds of the EU and to funds from other sectors such as the environment, health or human rights.

The promotion of European non-governmental organisations in developing countries and of education work in the field of development policy has a long tradition in Europe. In 2006, around 177 million euros were made available for this purpose, and were used to finance 269 projects worldwide, while another 30 million euros went to financing education and PR work in Europe.

In Brussels, the interests of NGOs are represented by the European NGO Confederation for Relief and Development (CONCORD), which was founded in early 2003. This European network is the major contact for the European Commission as regards development-policy concerns of NGOs. The European Union actively supports the establishment of networks of this sort.

Food aid programme

Food ready for distribution. Copyright: EU / Paul WebberFood aid plays an important role in saving lives and alleviating hunger in acute crises triggered by conflicts or natural disasters. But caution is needed here. Under certain circumstances, food aid can distort local markets and price structures and reduce the incentive for indigenous farmers to produce food themselves.

Food aid cannot replace long-term food security efforts, but it can complement them in emergencies. For this reason, the EU has modified its policy on food aid. Assistance is incorporated in long-term poverty reduction strategies and concepts to strengthen agricultural production in order to encourage the affected regions to become self-sufficient. Wherever food aid is necessary, food is purchased in neighbouring regions, if possible, in order to strengthen the agricultural sector and markets there. An early warning system is also being set up in order to identify famine at an early stage and to enable appropriate steps to be taken.

Under the provisions of the international Food Aid Convention (FAC), the EU member states and the Commission of the EU agreed in 1999 to supply 1.32 million metric tons of grain or comparable products to developing countries. They also provide 130 million euros for food aid. In 2007, the EU financed worldwide humanitarian measures worth a total of 768 million euros.

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Contact

CONCORD Secretariat

10 Square Ambiorix
1000 Brussels, Belgium
Phone: +32 / 2 / 7 43 87 60
Fax: +32 / 2 / 7 32 19 34

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