Brussels, Belgium | Today is an important day for the European Development Cooperation system. The Conclusions approved by the Council of the EU are a major step in defining the EU’S new path for its international cooperation for development. All 27 Ministers of Development Cooperation and Foreign Affairs have agreed on highlighting the mobilisation of public sector expertise and placing it at the core of the European Union’s external action. This approach has been fostered by the Practitioners’ Network, a platform for European Development Cooperation organisations which Enabel is part of.
Public sector expertise is a form of international technical cooperation that mobilises expertise from EU Member States and promotes peer-to-peer knowledge exchange and international institutional partnerships. The EU Council recognises this way of cooperation is a major tool to strengthen international partnerships, promote European values and standards, and achieve sustainable development.
“Mobilising Belgian public expertise is at the core of Enabel’s action. We do so not only to valorise and promote Belgian expertise, but more importantly to bring added value to our partner countries,” says Jean Van Wetter, CEO of Enabel. “We mobilised the expertise and knowledge of Belgium’s federal Public service for Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment to prepare new Belgian climate projects in the Sahel. Ghent University and the Université Catholique de Louvain cooperate with the University of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to improve the protocols for hosting and caring for victims of sexual violence. And the Belgian federal police trains the police forces of Burkina Faso and Benin to improve security and to restore trust with the population.”
Public sector expertise is not breaking news. EU Member States and the European Commission have been promoting it for years. Yet, it´s time now to scale up the use of public sector expertise. The EU’s partner countries want to exchange on how we do what we do. Public sector expertise allows us to work hand in hand and support the transformation of public systems.
How can we do this? Together, as a team. TEAM EUROPE. European Development Cooperation organisations have already been working together through the Practitioners’ Network. Today the EU Council confirms it is the right way to go. This is the result of the work done by a group of members of the Practitioners’ Network jointly with the European Commission. The role of specialised Member State organisations, such as Enabel in Belgium is key to promote public sector expertise and assure this expertise is guided towards sustainable development results (SDGs).
What´s next? It is up to the European Commission, Member States and their development organisations to jointly take over the helm and shape these ideas into actual results. An Action Plan is needed to overcome the challenges ahead. How can we effectively promote abroad the European way of delivering? How can we work better together? Which should be the priorities for the years to come? The Practitioners’ Network can be the platform to build this together and to improve public systems at the service of people and the planet.