On a geographical basis, the European Community (EC) is programming its aid to Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) countries for the period 2008-2013 under the European Development Fund (EDF). It will set out the main priorities for funding towards these countries and regions with a budget of 22.8 billion Euros for the 5 year period. The overview of this budget describes the allocation by country and focal sector. The programming process will lead to the adoption of a new generation of Country and Region Strategy Papers (CSP/RSPs) for ACP countries. CSPs serve as the bases for development cooperation that spells out the rationale and main areas of intervention. As of January 2008, 43 out of the 77 countries have been signed.
The European Commission has also allocated another budget line through the Investing in People (IIP) which comes from the Development Cooperation Instrument. The IIP aims to support various areas on human development including health, gender equality, education and employment.
The EC has also prepared Governance Profiles for each ACP country as a programming tool and basis for the governance incentive tranche which could increase a country´s allocation by 35%.
It is therefore important for civil society actors to engage with the programming process as the resulting Strategy Papers will guide EC development policy towards the countries and regions concerned for the entire period. The programming process might also set the basis for joint programming by EU Member States.
A process called the Mid-term Review will also be undertaken by 2010 which evaluates the relevance and performance of the development cooperation and whereby civil society´s engagement continues to be significant.
The Cotonou Agreement (signed in 2000 between the European Union and 78 ACP countries) stipulates that civil society organisations are consulted in the programming process and that 15% of all funding in ACP countries is allocated to civil society organisations.
Therefore it is crucial that concerns of civil society organisations based in the country/region are considered in this process, and this process is crucial to see concerns reflected in the EC’s aid. This engagement will open greater possibilities that funds are allocated to priorities raised by them.