On the last weekend of September our initiative organized its first virtual seminar in cooperation with the regional office of the Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation for Freedom in Rheinland-Pfalz/Hesse. During the three days from the 25.09. – 27.09 we dealt with the concept of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) through the example of the European fisheries policy in West Africa. The PCD concept was already included in the Maastricht treaties of the EU and seeks to ensure that non-development policies (as for example international trade agreements, foreign direct investment, migration policies, technology transfers and environmental policies) are consistent with a government’s international development objectives. Today, the relevance of this concept is acknowledged on the international institutional level, as for example by the OECD and considered in the Millennium Development Goals as well as in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations.
Our seminar started on Friday, the 25th of September, with a virtual tour through the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) led by Tom Pätz. During the tour we gained an insight into the history of the German Development Cooperation and the BMZ´s current fields of work as well as a first glance into the basic concepts of PCD.
The webinar was followed by a talk from Prof. Dirk-Jan Koch, who is a professor for Development Cooperation and International Trade at the Radboud University in the Netherlands and a policy officer to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He shed light onto the PCD concept with the help of the Commitment to Development Index, which was developed by the Center for Global Development. It was especially interesting to discuss Germany’s scores in detail, focusing on possible areas of improvement. For example, and contrarily to the participants‘ expectations, Germany performs rather poorly in the „Technology“ category which could be understood as a consequence of low technological transfer due to strict pattern policies in Germany. In addition, Mr. Koch highlighted tax incentives for Research & Development as well as scientific collaborations with lower-income countries as two areas that need improvement in order to achieve more coherence.
On Saturday, we focused on the impacts of European fisheries agreements with West Africa, which can be seen as a clear example for incoherence in policies. Papa Gora Ndiaye, Executive Secretary/Coordinator of the Network on Fisheries Policies in West Africa (REPAO), presented the problems related to the fishery agreements for fish stocks and fishers in Senegal. Mr. Ndiaye pleads for more policy coherence in fisheries policies on a regional level in Africa and for more coherence between EPAs and SPFAs.
Thereupon Cecilia Hammarlund, policy officer at the Swedish Institute for Food and Agricultural Economics, presented her findings on the effects of European fishery agreements on West African fish exports. She and her research partner found out in an empirical research paper that fish exports of African countries actually decrease when a fishery agreement becomes „inactive“ or is cancelled. The negative effects of an agreement becoming inactive seem to be caused by the cancelling of the compensation payments that the EU pays for the right to fish on African coasts.This would mean that fishery agreements between the EU and African countries are beneficial in terms of increasing exports and therefore create potential increase in welfare (if we assume that a proper distribution and efficient allocation of the new financial resources take place). Certainly, these agreements should be well designed in order to guarantee a sustainable use of fish resources and a long-run welfare increase. At the same time good institutions in the African partner countries are needed in order to assure a redistribution of the income and that the increase in exports does not endanger food safety.
Moreover, we learned during the seminar that West Africa is one of the most overfished areas in the world, which poses an ecological as well as an economic problem for Africa. Compensation payments from fishery agreements are a significant portion of several African governmental budgets (as for example in Mauretania). This could mean that the governments in the partner countries have an extra incentive to prolong fishery agreements with the EU. Also, the topic of overfishing and fishery agreements is gaining in relevance since fish stocks are likely to decrease due to climate change.
Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to dive into all these topics deeper, but hopefully they will be touched upon again in forthcoming seminars of our initiative.
Finally, we were curious about the practical implications and the implementation of PCD at a political level. It was a natural fit that Dr. Christoph Hoffmann, member of the German parliament and spokesperson for development policy of the FDP fraction, was available to discuss with us about these topics. He had just returned from Mali some days before, and happily shared his first-hand account of German development cooperation and development politics in the Bundestag. In the discussion, we did not only debate how policy coherence can be attained or improved, but also touched upon various subjects such as the EU’s role in development cooperation, the importance of good governance promotion, speculation on food markets, migrational flows and certainly about the consequences of the current Covid-19 pandemic on developing countries.
Overall, we and all participants were very satisfied with our first fully virtual seminar. It was especially intriguing to be able to invite and discuss with very diverse speakers from four different countries and two continents.
Thank you very much to the regional office of the Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation for Freedom in Rheinland-Pfalz/Hesse, our speakers Mr. Pätz, Mr. Koch, Mr. Ndiaye, Ms. Hammarlund and Mr. Hoffmann and all the seminar participants for making this seminar possible.
Emilie, Oliver, Katharina and Belén