The Netherlands is seeking clarification from the European Commission on a number of misguided European Union development projects. This is what the Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation, Ben Knapen, said in response to the critical report recently published by British think tank Open Europe.
The report cites examples such as a €500,000 project that provides teenagers in Burkina Faso with dance training. Mr Knapen wants to know more about this. ‘This strikes me as totally unnecessary. And that’s a shame, because EU development aid is very important, including for the Netherlands. And in fact, in the past ten years quality has been improving.’
Mr Knapen says that the report dovetails with Dutch criticism of the EU’s development policies. Effectiveness should be the main concern. The Netherlands wants the EU to focus more on infrastructure, energy and agriculture, since these are areas in which it brings added value. And the EU should be spending far less money on budget support to governments, unless they can be trusted to respect human rights. According to Mr Knapen, ‘Open Europe cites the criticism levelled by the Dutch government at EU budget support. Fortunately, Andris Piebalgs, the European Commissioner for Development, agrees with us on this issue.’