Challenges for European Development Cooperation in 2015 and Beyond

Under the slogan “Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future” the year 2015 has been declared as the European Year for Development (2015EYD). The aim of the EYD2015 is to raise the awareness of European citizens for the interconnectedness of our world. Today, what happens in Europe has a direct influence on countries in Asia, Africa or Latin America and the other way around. In this context of globalisation, European citizens need to be involved in and sensitised about global challenges, such as poverty eradication, food security, climate change, democratic societies and gender equality. This conference was organised in the framework of the EYD2015 by the European Network of Political Foundations (ENoP) together with its Croatian member organisations Novo Društvo, Medunarodni Edukacijski Centar and Zaklada Hrvatskog Državnog Zavjeta. It aimed to bringing in the Croatian perspective on EU Development Cooperation and discussing the challenges linked to it together with Croatian experts and civil society representatives.

Panel 1: European Development Cooperation – Global challenges need global answers!


–    Natali Lulic Grozdanoski, Director of Global Development Policy, Development    Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance General Directorate for Multilateral Affairs and Global Issues Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs
–    Gordan Bosanac, CROSOL – Croatian Platform for International Citizen Solidarity
–    Dr. Višnja Samardžija, Institute for Development and International Relations
–    Rada Borić, Centre for Women’s Studies

Moderation: Karolina Lekaović, Novo Drustvo

Background on EYD2015: Under the slogan “Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future” the year 2015 has been declared as the European Year for Development (2015EYD). The aim of the EYD2015 is to raise the awareness of European citizens for the interconnectedness of our world. Today, what happens in Europe has a direct influence on countries in Asia, Africa or Latin America and the other way around. In this context of globalisation, European citizens need to be involved in and sensitised about global challenges, such as poverty eradication, food security, climate change, democratic societies and gender equality.

Panel 2: Migration – a global challenge to development policies


  • Viktor KoskaCenter for the Study of Ethnicity, Citizenship and Migration
  • Linde-Kee van Stokkum, MSF, ENoP Member (could not join due to flight cancellation)
  • Julija KranjecCenter for Peace Studies
  • Ana Milićević Pezelj, Union of Independent Trade Unions of Croatia                   

Moderation: Lovorka Marinović, Independent Consultant at CEE Network for Gender Issues

Background information: Being the world’s largest donor of development assistance, the European Union cooperates with partner-countries to build peace, democratic societies and respect for human rights. As a new member of the EU family, Croatia has shown commitment to contributing to the development assistance goals. To inform and engage EU citizens a strong and comprehensive narrative which underlines the universality of the challenges, we are facing and the solidarity and responsibility is needed. How can new EU Member States like Croatia and its civil society contribute to this new narrative during and after the EYD?

The conference started with a short introduction session by Karolina Leakvoić, Novo Drustvo. She presented to the audience the scope of work of ENoP and stressed the importance of the conference tackling development cooperation, especially in the Croatian context, as Croatia being a new EU member-state (MS). Lekaović also referred to the second conference panel which tackles the relation and implications of development cooperation policies on migration.

Panel 1: European Development Cooperation – Global challenges need global answers!

The speakers outlined the importance of official development assistance provided by the EU, as well as the need to keep the EU as a major development donor. However, they also stressed that some EU MS, especially the new ones, like Croatia, do not have sufficient financial potential to contribute to the same amount as to which the older/richer MS can do. It has been estimated that new EU MS should invest 0,33% in development. However, Croatia has only managed to invest 0,13% last year, but it is still a big achievement for the country compared to before its accession (when its contribution has been 3 times less).

The ODA goal of 0,7% should not be equally applied to old and new MSs. New MS should have a lower threshold for contributions. The focus should not always be based on financial contributions, but also on experience. Croatia can contribute a lot to development with its transitional experience. Focus could be on transfer on knowledge, learning how to manage refugees and displaced persons. Peaceful reintegration experience of Croatia will be very valuable. Croatia is also the only country in addition to Slovenia that has traditionally cooperated with developing countries before its accession to the EU.

In addition, it is of the utmost importance to strengthen the strand of gender equality, also envisaged by the MDGs. During the war in Croatia 80% of the refugees had been women and elderly people. In conflicts and wars, refugees are mainly women and children. In this regard, Croatia has a good experience in helping women in their psycho-sociological recovery. This could be a very beneficial experience to developing countries and counties dealing with refugees.

Recommendations to the EU and national governments:

  • Be less financially demanding towards new MS (ODA 0.7%)
  • Instead, make use of their transitional and post-war experience: Croatia’s immediate war experience which can be used and shared with other countries engaged in conflict (keep solidarity alive)
  • Make use of Croatia’s experience with refugees and displaced persons, especially when it comes to psycho-sociological help to women
  • Inter-sectorial approach: women and girls need to be included in politics to help community creation and sustainability
  • Use the experience of war veterans
  • Encourage positive progress of MS in striving for the Development Agenda
  • Include a civic component in the institutions’ work; Civil society  should not only be perceived as a watchdog

Recommendations to Civil society:

  • CS should play an active role in foreign policy. It should help shape EU development policies.
  • Focus on armed conflicts should be strengthened
  • CSOs should be active on EU level
  • CSOs should promote the Development Agenda
  • Strengthen cooperation with citizens in the area of Former Yugoslavia
  • Encourage Croatian citizens to cooperate


EU needs to redefine its concepts on development cooperation in terms of:

  • Climate change, poverty eradication and sustainable development
  • Change of paradigm in development cooperation (EU survey on development assistance)
  • Increase the number of European citizens supporting development assistance

Panel 2: Migration – a global challenge to development policies

Population mobility has intensified in the past years and several types of migration can be identified:

  • Immigration
  • Emigration
  • Voluntary migration
  • Forced migration
  • Illegal migration

In addition, migration can also be divided into: short-term and multi-stage migration, as well as ethnical migration (which is not tackled within the EU programme documents).  In Croatia all the above mentioned types of migration have been and are faced today.

Today we are witnessing crisis in countries like Ukraine and Syria which is the main cause of ethnically motivated migration. EU is the first target for most migrants. Croatia in this regard can offer a lot in terms of experience. In the 90s Croatia had only 0,5% of foreigners living in the country, based on the country’s estimation, however the % calculated by the international community amounted to 70,5%. Where does this discrepancy come from? It comes from acknowledging the right to citizenship. For example, Croatians living abroad in Bosnia and Herzegovina were not seen as migrants and vice versa. Within Yugoslavia and following its collapse, the notion of migration was different than in the rest of Europe.

The other category of migrants that Croatia has faced is from ‘’outside’’, or the so called classical migration. With joining the EU Croatia has been confronted with a new dimension of migration, deriving from the fact that the country borders expanded and new categories of EU citizens were eligible to freely migrate in the country.

Having this various migration experience, the panelist have stressed that Croatia can help the EU tackling the issue in different aspects. In terms of development cooperation and migration, there should be a distinction between forced migration and financial migration. A difference between those migrants who should be protected and who leave the countries because they fear their lives, and those illegal migrants in order to improve their living standards. EU has to deal with illegal migration. MS have to work together to return these migrants in their origin countries and safety has to be provided.

Asylum-seekers and forced migration

The panelists stressed that in Croatia there is still only a selective and marginal discussion on migration. In the past years EU policies towards illegal migrants have not been in line with human values and rights. Policies of exclusion have been a practice. How can Syrian refugees be seen as illegal migrants? They should have a status of asylum seekers and not be put in detention centers. There are incidents where people are mistreated, many lose their lives which is where the criticism for these policies stems from.

Security policy budget for FRONTEX has increased from 2005 from 6,3 mln to more than 80 mln. The proclaimed austerity measures are valid for all other sectors, but this one. Since its accession to EU the number of asylum seekers has decreased 3 times for Croatia. What is the reason for that? The Dublin regulation is responsible. Asylum-seekers first reach Greece and Italy and they need to stay in these countries based on the Dublin regulation.

In terms of migrant integration, it is still difficult for Croatia to manage it due to several factors such as: religious practice; the right to enter university – no quota for immigrants; the lack of integration policy; the policy of fear – the prejudices against migrants – who are they, what diseases can they bring;,etc.

Humanitarian policies EU and Croatia need to regulate the issue of protection of migrants.

Recommendations to the EU and national governments:

  • Revision of the Dublin convention – burden-sharing of the migration influx between the EU member-states is essential!
  • Development of proper integration policy of migrants on EU and MS level
  • Awareness-raising in MS on migration and boosting acceptance among local population
  • Awareness-raising on the positive aspects of migration on development
  • Make sure that war migrants are not placed in detention centers
  • Resolve national problems related to educational, pension, employment systems in relation to migrants’ integration
  • Inclusion of CS
  • Create country-specific policies for migration, taking into account the experience, history, culture and presence/lack of xenophobic tendencies
  • Bi-later cooperation between MS

The fundamental problem about migration is that it is usually not managed well and there is no coherent policy related to it. We should perhaps look at positive examples of countries like the USA where the country is built based on migrants, and try to look at the added value of it, and the incentive for development, rather than as a threat to European security.