More and more often, European cooperation agencies foster collaboration and expertise-sharing to learn from each other. In this regard Jean Van Wetter, director of Enabel, met with Anna Terrón Cusí, director of FIIAPP to exchange views and practices.
or ‘International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies’, is not your classical cooperation agency. Its mandate is at the same time broader and narrower.
“FIIAPP was created some twenty years ago, when countries from Eastern Europe joined the European Union,” Anna Terrón Cusí the Director of FIIAPP, explains. “At the time, Spain was one of the latest countries to have joined the EU, and the newcomers were very interested to learn more about how our governments and administrations managed the transition. They asked us to share our expertise with them on how to proceed with the necessary reforms. FIIAPP was set up to that effect.”
“But our mandate is broader: we are charged with the task of facilitating public sector expertise exchanges between Spain and partner countries. Which means, we are active in Spain’s priority partner countries for cooperation, but also in the EU’s neighbouring countries. For example, we are currently engaged in programmes in Ukraine about public sector digitisation."
"We are also currently running the EUROsociAL+
programme in Chile, one of our partner countries, around constitutional change. We are advising on spaces for civil society on what could be useful to include in the new Constitution that’s being drafted.”
“As time went by, FIIAPP realised that it was more efficient to mobilise technical expertise from its own – Spanish - public sector,” explains Anna Terrón Cusí.
A conclusion that Enabel also shared. As a result, FIIAPP and Enabel actively seek expertise in various levels of government, administration, and public institutions.
“Indeed,” says Jean Van Wetter, CEO of Enabel, “it has been a few years we have been working as ‘enablers’, hence our name. We call this method ‘public-public partnerships. When one of our projects in a partner country feels it could benefit for matters related to the public sector, we reach out to Belgian ministries, administrations, or public institutions."
"We identify people with the right expertise that could valuably contribute to the project. They join the project team and bring their expertise, while we provide our knowledge of the local context, institutions and network.”
“Such peer-to-peer exchanges are a lot more efficient, as both parties work in the same area and share a common knowledge of their missions and challenges. We are constantly expanding our partnerships with ministries, institutions, public companies, and universities to be able to mobilise the most appropriate expertise and peer-to-peer relationships to achieve the objectives we set out with our local partners.”
“For example, port development is a priority for the Beninese government to increase their economic development. To this effect, we have asked experts from the Antwerp Port Authority to collaborate with the authorities in Cotonou to turn the port into an international commerce hub for West Africa.”
“In Burkina Faso, Belgian policemen are currently assisting the Burkinabe police in restoring the rule of law and reinforcing their ties to the local population. And the University of Gent and the Université Catholique de Louvain are cooperating with the University of Kisangani to update the protocols to take better care of victims of sexual violence and their families in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”