CONCORD, the European NGO Confederation for Relief and Development, published two documents on the European external actions.
The Reader 2012 is helping tool for EU Standard Contract Management. It is based on the March 2011 update of EuropeAid’s 2010 Practical Guide (PRAG) for external actions. This reader was compiled in 2012 and based on outcomes of regular meetings with the European Commission’s Development and Cooperation Office EuropeAid – DEVCO.
While the core report has been formally endorsed by EuropeAid’s unit R3 in May 2012, the annexes haven’t and are indicative.
The Reader is an important tool for NGOs and EU officials to interpret the complex rules of the European Commission. Indeed, it provides a clear explanation on all articles in the 2010 Practical Guide (March 2011 update). The Reader is conceived as a concrete instrument that should help CONCORD members and other NGOs to better address different contractual issues concerning the implementation of grant contracts. Meanwhile, we remind you that the final interpretation of the rules always falls within the mandate of the European Commission and EU Delegations.
Available here with annexes.
The report finds that:
• EU Delegations lack transparency and predictability in handling call for proposals, which creates barriers for CSOs to access EC funding.
• Efficiency of development aid projects delivered by CSOs is hampered by serious delays in approvals by EU Delegations through all phases of the project
• Useful monitoring activities led by EU Delegations of development projects are diminished by limited preparation and a lack of feedback towards CSOs.
Transparency and predictability are serious concerns:
“There’s a real need for EU Delegations to ensure maximum predictability, transparency and accountability in the programming, selection and award of funds processes. A way to this would be for example to ensure timely and systematic consultation with CSOs in EC programmes planning; to standardly use the restricted procedure for all calls for proposals; and to give a comprehensive feedback on the reasons why a proposal was rejected. This would take out some of the mystery around how to access EC funding. ” Says Nils Rocklin from CONCORD member Handicap International.
Efficiency of EU Delegations’ work with CSOs in the field can be improved:
“CSOs are still detracted from their main purpose of delivering development aid by an excessive administrative burden and serious delays in grant management issues by EU Delegations. This is increased by the inconsistency and restrictive approach to the interpretation of the Standard Contract requirements by Delegation staff. The EC should develop a “Code of Good Practice” to provide a consistent interpretation and encourage flexibility wherever it brings simplification.” Says Nils Rocklin from CONCORD member Handicap International.