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Why the European Parliament elections matter for international development

Written by Mikaela Gavas, Simon Maxwell


Elections to the European Parliament will take place in May this year. Yet, an oddity of the European elections is that they are out of synch with the main policy and budgetary processes of the EU:  

·         The Multiannual Financial Framework was approved at the end of 2013, appropriating funds and shaping detailed allocations for the period 2014 to 2020.

·         Detailed policy will be shaped by the Regulations covering different instruments, relating to the same period, and mostly in the final stages of approval.

·         From an aid perspective, country programming is well underway, which means that the strategic priorities and sectoral aid spending up until 2020 will be fixed even before the elections take place.

·         The Foreign Affairs Council of Member States, meeting in December 2013, agreed the future policy on financing development and on policy coherence for development, and laid down markers for the Commission’s future work on results frameworks in aid spending.

·         Work is well underway on the EU’s position for the climate change talks and on its comprehensive approach – linking development, defence and diplomacy – in conflicts like those besetting parts of sub-Saharan Africa.


Does this suggest that the role of the new Parliament is limited; that all that is left is the job of holding the executive to account for the implementation of decisions taken by others? Have the Parliament’s guns been spiked?


This blog argues that rather than being powerless, the new Members of the European Parliament have an opportunity to exert influence in various subtle ways. It also sets out a series of questions on international development that can be asked of all political party manifestos.