EUROPE and COOPERATION... time to dare another policy

… the fear of saying no, inadequate strategies and the obsession with the “Réglement” … how to make ineffective a cooperation that could be efficient…


Foreword : I believe in Europe in the same way Blaise Pascal was ready to bet on the existence of God… but what a bet ! Europe is moving forward but lagging behind with regard to issues of development. At the same time, Europe is facing dramatically growing pressure from the nations of the world. In constructing a foreign policy adapted to Europe's challenges, the Commission should urgently change the spirit, strategies and methods of its approach to cooperation.



1 - CONSIDERING THE BACKGROUND … “action, … means men in the midst of circumstances …”*




He is the pillar of the new classless society modelled by the past century of technical and social progress. The European “petit bourgeois” however, is gnawed at by his ego-centrism and his fears. He has been anesthetised by decades of murderous marxist-inspired utopias. Now he suffers from a serious afffliction of “correct thinking” where values are not screened according to any reasonable judgment but simply applauded by the choir of intellectuals “à la mode” who swarm in the various European “Saint Germain des Prés”. According to them, the contemporary new man is endowed with rights; he is therefore afraid of losing them. And as he is not supposed to offer anything in exchange, he refuses to adapt himself to a changing world. He enthusiastically makes his all ready-made ideas, errors and nonsense of the day about poverty and development, nonsense that the politically and socially correct media, unions, associations and political parties keep on repeating over and over again, the same nonsense that politicians do not dare to question.

Neither Davos however , nor Porto Alegre is the right answer. The World bank and the International Monetary Fund avoid the real problems. The United States makes itself hated with its simple-minded policies while Europe has no policy at all. They have not yet realised that cooperation has to address the people whose expectations are too often deceived and should never be left to the local leaders whose bad governance requires a very strict and attentive coaching. Public interest and public finance management are not major concerns among the few families and clans who govern the partner countries.

The development process is not politically correct because reality is not . Trying to apprehend development through ideologies or charitable feelings is a dramatic mistake that leads inexorably, to failure and, eventually to chaos. Europe has not yet decided what it wants to be as an “emerging power”. It remains built upon a sort of liberal and non-interventionist beatitude, an anti-colonialist and ecologising attitude, devotion to human rights mixed with divinisation, nurtured with a strange mix of “laissez faire” flabbiness and technocratic rigidity that may lead it to miss its next rendez-vous with a changing world.

Points in question

The European “petit bourgeois” … alienation through “wrong thinking” and a panicky perception of “the other”

He is the “new man” of our modern classless society . He feels safe benefiting from the attainments of previous generations and he doesn't want to budge. Instead of facing challenges, he hides behind his usual “beta blockers”: unions, associations, political parties, all strongly united in their endless battle for social and economic conservatism …

“Germanopratinism” is an incurable illness that strikes Boulevard Saint Germain Parisian left bank politically correct intellectuals. They have forsaken their pilgrimages to Moscow, Beijing or Havana. Their new enthusiasm is the suffering “alter-world”. Intellectuals do not necessarily show a deep comprehension of the world but they easily latch on to ideas and “great causes” that are in the air. The “new man” per se, is endowed with rights, he is without duty or sense of responsibility. His faults are to be forgiven because he is society’s victim …As a result, there are a lot of “eccentrics à la mode” about but still very few geniuses at work !

Correct-thinking and intolerance : from compassion to repentance and forward, to thought-control … a disease of civilisation or simple whimsicality of rich people ?

The “petit bourgeois” is afraid . He feels the world is against him. The idea of change is totally alien to the public sector and blocks the minds of the young who are deliberately misled by political parties and unions’ activists. They all dream of comfortable civil servant jobs, they envy those richer than themselves whom they distinguish easily. They don't even see the genuine poor, those of the third world, who watch them from the neighbourhoods on the peripheries of their secured fortress.


Poverty and development : what are we talking about ?

Development is not politically correct because reality is not … and it doesn't necessarily fit into the conventional view of things …

First, explain the basic issue : population is increasing and jobs are not following. The modern sector cannot cope with the situation and the informal sector is ignored … it is in this area however, that lives or survives the bulk of the populations of the developing countries …

The third world enters the competition…with us or against us ? or simply without us ? What comes first, export or internal market ? Is there going to be a Chinese bubble within some time ? Development is not Davos nor Porto Alegre, it is more difficult and less whimsical !


Ready made ideas, errors and nonsense about poverty and development … an impassioned and compassionate confusion

Don't mix development and “assistantialism ”….. passive beneficiary or responsible protagonist ? That is the question…

… and a lot of other bits of non-sense : colonialism and the excuse of “exploitation”, the debt that should be forgiven, the terms of exchange, the Common Agricultural Policy that ruins the poor countries, the mirages of political or press announcements …

Inaccurate feelings, semi-true facts or simple anxieties , systematically repeated, become dogmas or secular threats : the prophets of climate change after those of the Club de Rome, nuclear energy is ostracised, the GMO is chopped down, … beware worshipping ecological fundamentalism in place of the dictatorship of the proletariat !

The questionable assertions of economists, engineers or sociologists : the specialists’ standards, models and obsessions may be misleading when they draw conclusions from generalisations.


The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are very much criticised … but not always for their real faults

The IMF is brutal but its patients would not need its bitter medicines, if they managed better their public finances … the new role of the IMF…

The World Bank paradoxically, combines arrogance and laxism …. it often makes mistakes and shows excesses of enthusiasm for its temporarily well performing “liberal protégés” … the questionable concept of “export led growth” has misled generations of economists and leaders …. By the way, who cares about the internal market and the informal sector ?


The elephant and the ostrich … how a wrong policy can infuriate the people and comfort the elites in their “clientelism”

The primitive policy of the United States … disaster in the Middle-East, noxious proselytism of sects and religious groups, inflammatory geo-strategic initiatives in Asia and eastern Europe …

The volatile policy of the European Commission … the mild successes or failures in South America and in the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, a faltering policy in front of the israelo-palestinian issue, the “liberalising” complex of our Commissioners… and now (ultimate desertion of responsibility ?), the comfort of the “budgetary aid” within a decidedly “laisser-fairiste” cooperation trend …


The local elites and governance … why does it still fail ?

General interest and sound management of public finance are far from being first ranking priorities of the few families, clans or ethnic groups that hold political, economic and cultural power in the countries of the developing world… Corruption and mismanagement are the general rule… cultural and sociological reasons can explain but not justify this…

Wrong, crazy or corrupt choices of public policies , strategies and investment ruin people and plunge them into debt …

Development is not a question of money but of methods and confidence : public money is ill- spent while private investors do not trust their own country's legal, judiciary and institutional framework and send their money abroad .

In brief, the elites of the developing countries are not doing their work the way they should. They fail severely in their duty vis a vis their peoples and their countries …. This is the very reason why the ownership concept, a nice idea, becomes a dangerous whim when addressing the governing elites and the idea of founding cooperation on any responsibility or public interest feeling of the national level political leaders . The only level where an effective sense of solidarity and responsibility does exist is in communities or local groups. Only in these areas is it feasible, commendable and highly necessary to boost ownership processes. This will be discussed further on …




2 - THE IMMENSE SORROWS OF EUROPEAN COOPERATION …. “the most enchanting are desperate songs, I remember some that are immortal sobs”*

Summary (… errare humanum est, perseverare diabolicum…)


The past ten years of European Cooperation unveil the three major faults that the “Devil” apparently wants the Commission to persevere in.

The first one is the confusing intellectual blend about the concept of partnership . The great idea of ownership is indeed, the basis of any “autonomisation” process with regards to activities and socio-economic agents at the local level in the developing countries. On the other hand, it is a counter-productive and somewhat dangerous whim when one tries to enforce it in the course of dealing with national governing elites who have little notion of public interest and good “governance”. The principles of co-decision and co-direction regarding orientation and management of aid are thus the only foundations for a responsible partnership i-e a partnership that escapes both the neo-colonialist tutelage and the inconsistency of assistantialism. The Commission once practiced these management principles successfully in Latin America and Asia; it wrongly decided to drop them at the turn of the millennium, getting rid at the same time of its essential share of power and responsibility in the management of its aid.

The second fault is an astonishing lack of definition in strategic matters . The Commission indeed, in the same way as the World Bank and many others, tends nowadays to favour the so-called “modern sector” while neglecting the “informal sector”. The latter however, is the area where 60 to 80 % of the population of the developing world earns its living while the former creates scarce employment (but it is the favourite, and easier, playground for the economists). Beyond that, urban poverty remains practically ignored although it is the real challenge for the next decades ! The approaches of most cooperation instruments are inadequate : they talk very much about “the beneficiaries” instead of promoting “responsible partners”. And what about the so-called “sector approaches” and “budgetary aid” ? Their mis-management by ill-prepared elites unaware of the public interest, can only contribute to developing the vicious circle of laxism, assistance and dependence… the exact opposite of what is wanted !

The third fault is the incomprehensible indecision of the Commission regarding the reform of the cooperation management framework including the various “règlements” and financial control. These are the principle causes of cooperation's inefficiency. Procedural abuses block the projects, destroy the development dynamics, de-motivate the “beneficiaries” as well as the civil servants, put in question the credibility of the Union’s foreign policy…and despite all this, appear unable to prevent mis-use of the funds as the global system does not allow an in-depth control of the decisions made… precisely the area where the really big errors and embezzlements do occur.


Points in question


A bit of history … and some anecdotes

My own adventures with the Commission … the necessary and sufficient experience of the Commission itself, its various instruments and over 60 developing countries, in crisis or torn by war…

From the discovery of America down to bureaucratic fossilisation

The routine of cooperation and its three main faults .


First fault : inadequate use of the partnership concept … how the Commission got rid of its share of responsibility

The co-direction system was achieving a responsible partnership through an immediate and shared control of power and responsibilities with regard to strategies and daily operation of its projects. The Commission gave this up on the ground that local leaders should “appropriate” the projects. That is indeed, what they did but not exactly in the way expected ! The Commission as a result, felt obliged to strengthen its control procedures. The inadequacy of these progressively undermined the projects' efficiency without granting in exchange any real control of the major errors and instances of mismanagement or corruption.

The utopian notion of “appropriation” by the governing elites and the Commission’s temptation to evade its responsibilities reach a peak when the choice of experts is progressively “nationalised” at the expense of minimal independence of judgment and quality of proposals. At the same time the extension of the “budgetary aid” process grants de facto, the local leaders with management responsibility through a confusing “Règlement” and a straight-jacketing financial control.

Vagueness also reigns in the definition of the countries' strategies and aid programming . Most often these are a nice compilation from heaps of other documents that are usually as long and costly to elaborate as they are non-operational.


Second fault : conceptual confusion and an astonishing lack of creativity in the strategies and approaches of the development issues

A “non-policy” along the stream … the Commission obstinately keeps talking about “beneficiaries” when and in the areas where it should be promoting responsible and active partners .

Large public works are very attractive to some people and groups whose real interests and priorities are not always that clear... no matter, people and cooperation will pay !

Growth of the sole “modern sector” cannot tackle the issue of employment … and even less when it is reduced to export activities only. Private money flees out of the developing country as long as there is no reliable legal, judiciary and institutional framework.

The real challenge is to boost and organise the huge informal sector from which activity the largest part of the population makes its living… This is the core of the development issue, the basis upon which the internal market will develop … The problem is that the Commission bars itself from this sector because it fails to correctly master the right approaches which, no doubt, are difficult and demanding…

Strategic vision indeed, is not a major strong point of the Commission : the instruments called “micro-projects” and “food security” for instance, do not fit the objectives sought for… and the “sector approaches” open a dangerous path towards “budgetary aid” in which questionable management by local leaders, paradoxically, reinforces the vicious circle of assistance and dependence … the only hope is that a sudden illumination will enlighten the elites in matters of government !

While in the mean-time urban development is practically ignored

The co-financing approach with the NGOs is somewhat more innovative … most often, the NGOs know how to do but lacks the means, the Commission has the means but doesn't know how… or doesn't want to know !


Third fault : the management framework is poor … but it is maintained lest everything could collapse !

Structures are being stirred within the same operating framework … and nothing moves ! the management system itself is the problem … and in the meantime, the regulating goes on !

“Réglement” and financial control have become the most efficient causes of cooperation inefficiency : enforcement of procedures takes precedence over results … and nobody dares to reform.

We are close to deadlock : administrative issues delay action by months or years and block the development dynamics, reducing dramatically the rate of efficiency of the projects and activities for over a decade.

The civil servants as a consequence, loose faith : among them, there are good ones and bad ones but the “Réglement” paralyses them all ! … and their bosses are afraid of changing the way things are done…

The civil servant and the consultant, a strange pair obliged to move at a faltering pace … consultants disturb the routine when they escape the framework …

The abuse of the logical framework method : a tool that could be useful as should be the financial control, were they used for what they are and not as screens to hide behind !


Why does all this matter ? The answer is that some billions of euros are at stake every year as well as the expectations of hundreds of million of individuals and the credibility of the Union’s foreign policy with regard to three quarters of the countries of the world ! The situation is both simple and dramatic....




3 - REACT OR DISAPPEAR AS THE WORLD GOES ON MOVING … “arise quickly, o longed-for tempests...”*



Faced with these vital challenges, we must react against the surrounding mediocrity. This means that the European “petit bourgeois” has to get rid of his fantasies, stop feeling guilty and re-build his self-confidence, if he wants to participate in or lead the movement. Journalists and media, please help him to overcome his fears instead of shutting him inside them ! The world is not his enemy : neither the Chinese nor the immigrants nor Muslim fundamentalism nor frantic claims for Asian values, will wipe him out. He simply has to accept that the world is changing, otherwise he will have to suffer changes imposed by others on him !

The Commission has to take back the shares of power and responsibility it dropped on bad pretexts. Co-decision in choices and co-direction in action are the only principles that can help in establishing a responsible partnership, free of both the undesired neo-colonialist tutelage and the undesirable laxism of assistantialism.

The absolute priority is to help the masses of the informal sector move forward into an effective process of autonomous development. For this, it is mandatory to get rid of the assistantialist attitude that maintains communities and countries in the vicious circle of dependence and clientelism. In relation with the “modern sector” of enterprises and public administration, cooperation will not really work until the elites are “accompanied” with a strict severity on the road towards good government. Leaving cooperation to their whims and voracity must definitely be avoided.

The Commission therefore, will have to change its methods : generalising the co-decision and co-direction systems, re-building the “règlements” getting rid of the infertile procedures and placing the high authorities of the Commission in front of their tremendous responsibilities through evaluation of their results and capacities. Finally, combat the methodological sclerosis that threatens the Delegations in their respective microcosms, through adequate systems of intellectual airing and improvement of methods.


Points in question


The outcome is vital and mediocrity is no longer acceptable

The time has come for a change of approach and methods …. assistance versus autonomy, passive beneficiary vs responsible actor, … help the poor to commit themselves and develop their own dynamics on their own…


If it gets rid of its fantasies and its fears … Europe will overcome any challenge in the world

Rebuild self-confidence and stop feeling guilty … respect from others calls for self-respect ...

Have a reasonable vision of the world movement : the emergence of China and other countries, immigration, Islamist fundamentalism or frantic claims for Asian values, does not necessarily mean the death toll for our civilisation !

Old Europe has a vast experience and all the necessary advantages . It needs only to recover and accommodate the cultural “fundamentals” that once, made its strength … this “revolution” is perhaps underway and France seems to be catching up … will it take the lead ?

In such conditions, shouldn’t the European “petit bourgeois” recover from his paranoia ? … Journalists and media, prove that Dante was wrong, help him recover hope and stop flattering his self-centred gloom !


Coaching the elites on the path of good government … a partnership that is no longer a comedy … an end to “laisser-faire”, a beginning to “co-operation” !

Cooperation is not a due, it cannot be taken for granted and deserves an effort, it is based on trust and mutual respect… A genuine partnership is the only possible pedagogical tool for the elites on their way towards the practise of sound government.

Co-decision in choices and co-direction in action … the Commission has to take back the share of power and responsibility it has abandoned on bad pretexts…

Misgovernment or partnership control ? It is a simple equation : misgovernment by elites is the general rule in the developing countries, … It is impossible however to bar people from the aid they need, … For that reason, it is obligatory to control its use efficiently. Co-direction is then the only alternative to the assistantialist “laissez-faire” on one hand, the neo-colonialist “tutelle” on the other hand. In front of this evidence, the Commission, the World Bank and the donors as a whole, have to change their approach and stop dreaming about eventual spontaneous governmental self-improvement.


Choose the right target, select correct priorities and efficient policies through adequate institutional set-ups

The aid issue is not quantitative, the methods have to change …

First, agree on policies and fix the conditions of the “partnership contract” … but remain firm on fulfilment or terminate the deal …

The informal sector is “the” priority … get rid of the “gift” policy and stop the vicious circle of “assistance-dependence”, the operational objective is to propel the mass of families and groups in a vast movement towards technical and financial autonomy … the approaches do exist, they have to be put firmly at the core of cooperation policies …

Local development dynamics will afterwards emerge and consolidate, merging in a global participatory approach for all partners of the informal sector and the local authorities including the decentralised governmental units that are deemed to fix the norms in each specific sector …

And what about the “modern” sector ? Enterprises and public administration will not really be able to perform in the developing countries until the elites are effectively willing to set up and to respect a reliable legal, judiciary and institutional framework. In the mean-time, the elites should be duly “accompanied” on the path towards good government, avoiding that cooperation be left to their whims and voracity.


Unbolt the management system, give the participants the freedom to march forward … billions are at stake and also the credibility of cooperation

An efficient management control would be nice, increased results would be better !

Fully reshuffle the various “réglements” passing them all through “value analysis” methods … and from these keep only what is useful !

Extend everywhere the co-direction system that materialises the co-responsibility of the two co-operating partners … only chance for teaching good governmental methods to local leaders.

Evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the policies , strategies and programmes … and beyond the units management, evaluate the managers in charge of the various Commissariats and General Directions where lie the powers to make decisions and the final responsibility… the higher the level, the higher the responsibility !

Reduce the risks of methodological sclerosis the Delegations are prone to within their microcosms by creating networks that favour innovation and diffusion of the best approaches and methods.



CONCLUSION …. “will Europe finally decide, to remain Europe…” ? *

The first goal of cooperation as a pillar of European foreign policy is to ensure Europe's role among world powers and to strengthen its capacity to accompany and eventually lead the changing world…

The second is to help the partner countries on their way towards an autonomous and responsible development … Failing to do so efficiently, the inadequacies of local elites and the “benign neglect” of the donors, could plunge the States into anarchy and the world into insecurity…

In seeking a respectable foreign policy, let us begin by putting our cooperation policies on the right track ! Forward and courage, gentlemen Commissioners and General Directors, it is hard work but it is your duty and your responsibility … do not fear !


* In the titles, quotations from Charles de Gaulle, Lamartine and Chateaubriand