To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the mandate of the European Development Fund Committee is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if she will list the items currently under its consideration; if she will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if she will make a statement.
The European Development Fund Committee (EDF) examines community aid for development co-operation in the ACP countries and the overseas countries and territories (OCT). EU-ACP co-operation is now governed by the Cotonou Agreement, signed in June 2000. The Cotonou Agreement's main objectives are the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty and the gradual integration of ACP countries into the global economy, while adhering to the aims of sustainable development.
Article 21 of the Cotonou Agreement establishes the role of the EDF Committee. The Committee's tasks cover:
(a) programming of community aid and programming reviews in particular focusing on country and regional strategies, including identification of projects and programmes;
(b) participation in the decision-making process relating to financing from the European Development Fund; and
(c) monitoring the implementation of community aid, including sectoral aspects, cross-cutting issues, and the functioning of field-level co-ordination.
The Committee also examines the consistency and complementarity between EC aid and aid from the member states. In order to ensure transparency and consistency between co-operation operations and improve complementarity between community actions and member states' own bilateral programmes.
In the past 12 months the Committee has met nine times. The United Kingdom is represented by officials from the Department for International Development. Travel costs for DFID officials to attend meetings of the Committee are met by the European Commission. Other costs incurred for attending this Committee totalled £2,800 in the past 12 months.
Together with member states, the commission is currently conducting a review to bring existing legislation on the conduct of comitology committees into line with Council Decision 1999/468/EC, to
"simplify the requirements for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission".
As an obligation to this decision, the Commission undertook to publish an annual report on the working of committees. The first report was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses on
As part of the review process, the UK Government have encouraged the Commission to produce and maintain an electronic database of every comitology committee, its agendas and recent actions, to be accessible through its website.