The Launch Event of the European Report on Development (ERD) in Germany organized jointly by EADI, EDC 2020 and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development took place on 10 November 2009 in Bonn. The presentation of the report was opened by Ingrid Hoven, Director-General of the Ministry.
After a short welcome and introduction of the panelists, she passed over to Francoise Moreau, Acting Director for EU Development Policy: Horizontal Issues in DG Development. Ms Moreau introduced the initiative of the ERD and its objectives which consist of bringing together academics, researchers and policy-makers and to harmonising European development research and policy. She also explained the choice of fragility as the main topic of the first ERD saying that fragility, being a major obstacle to development and one of the most pressing issue to tackle in development and security policy, has become a very important point on the EU agenda.
Giorgia Giovanetti, Scientific Director of the European Report on Development spoke about the content of the ERD in the context of the financial crisis which affected developing countries despite their low financial integration. She also explained the definition of fragility and some common characteristics of fragile states, which the ERD team used for operational purposes. Ms Giovanetti also highlighted the importance of building up state resilience which is crucial in overcoming fragility and stressed that we need to respond to crises in fragile states while solving long-term weaknesses.
A member of ERD Team, Simone Bertoli, explained structural and historical reasons for state fragility. He focused on colonialism as a principal cause for many difficulties which still prevail in fragile states and suggested that this is another argument to call for a common European engagement towards fragility.
The floor was then open to the discussants, and Ulrich Hiemenz, Director in the Center for Development Research criticized the report for being too general. In his view, there are many different reasons for state fragility such as environmental or geographical etc, and the ERD should have addressed that issue by distinguishing different types of fragile states. One of the criticisms made by Jörn Grävingholt, from German Development Institute (DIE), was that the ERD does not give detailed evaluation of EU policy. In his opinion, we need this to make better policy recommendations for the future. Both discussants agreed that there is still more research to be done.
After the presentation there was also time for the comments and questions from the audience. Some questions raised included the topic of the next report and the cooperation of the ERD research team. Amongst many comments from the audience, some included calls for more coherence in Europe and more recommendations on better governance for Africa.
Ingrid Hoven thanked all the participants and concluded that we still need more research and more investment in research institutions in Africa.
The European Report on Development is the result of a joint initiative supported by the European Commission and several Member States (Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden, UK) with the aim to globally promote a European perspective on development issues, on the basis of knowledge excellence, innovation and building of common ground between the European research community and policy-makers. The European Report on Development will be published on a yearly basis.
This year’s European Report on Development was written by the ERD team at the European University Insitute in Florence deals with the complex and multidimensional issue of “fragility” with a specific focus on the African continent. Today more than ever, with the succession of crises that have acted as magnifiers of fragility and vulnerability, overcoming fragility is an increasingly important priority in European development policies. It is also a key challenge for European security strategy. Read more about the report.