06:05 am - Wednesday 21 November 2018

Risk-review of development assistance results‑oriented approach

By Amalawi - Fri Dec 18, 12:54 pm

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The EU dedicates substantial resources to assisting the development of the world’s poorest countries. The amounts scheduled to be made available for development and cooperation over the 2014-20 period are €19.6 million through the EU general budget, and €30.5 million for ACP countries through the European Development Fund.

To establish the credibility of development assistance, it is essential that the results achieved with these resources can be demonstrated. Recently, there has been renewed interest from both the European Parliament and the Council in shifting the focus of EU development and cooperation policies from activities to results. The European Court of Auditors therefore conducted a review to provide an overview of what the auditors consider to be the main risk areas related to a results-oriented approach for EU development and cooperation action. The review also illustrates the risks concerned on the basis of experience acquired through audits in the field of external action. The auditors identified nine key risk areas related to the preparation of an EU development and cooperation results framework:

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  • Inconsistent results-related terminology or failure to establish a clear logical chain between action, outputs, outcome and impact can be a source of confusion and undermine the assessment of what has been achieved.
  • Increased complexity due to the integration of cross-cutting issues in EU programmes represents a supplementary risk for the achievement and reporting of results.
  • Lack of harmonisation between development partners’ aid delivery instruments, results frameworks and accountability structures can generate inefficiencies and accountability gaps.
  • Weaknesses in evaluation and results reporting can prevent the feedback of relevant knowledge and lessons-learnt into reporting and decision making processes.
  • Lack of consolidated reports on or an overview of results achieved by EU aid can impair decision making and accountability.
  • Lack of sufficient, relevant, reliable and up-to-date data can significantly weaken the quality and reliability of reported results.
  • Focusing on budgetary outturn as an objective can be detrimental to sound financial management and the achievement of results.
  • Changes in the context of actions can undermine the achievement or sustainability of results, and make it difficult to assess the results achieved.
  • These risk areas had been correctly identified by the European Commission in a wide range of documents. Nevertheless, further actions remain to be taken in order to harness the full potential of initiatives for improved EU development and cooperation results. In order to mitigate the risks identified, the auditors make the following recommendations to the Commission:
  • Improve guidelines to ensure the consistent use of terminology regarding (outputs, outcomes, impacts) and, where relevant, to formulate SMART objectives and clear indicators for interventions at all levels.
  • Ensure that a clear link is established between actions and expected results, without omitting cross-cutting issues.
  • Improve information systems to be able to effectively consolidate and report on the results of its interventions.
  • Assess data availability and quality, and strive to have sufficient, relevant, reliable and up-to-date data on results achieved. This should be reflected in systems and guidelines.
  • Assess the risks inherent to its choice of a particular method of implementation when considering the expected results and before committing financial resources
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