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Election platform series: Christian Democrats

More strategic perspective

by Christian Ruck
In a series of comments ahead of Germany’s general election in September, the development spokespersons of the parties representend in the Bundestag will elaborate their programmatic ideas this month. The start was made by Christian Ruck of the Christian Democrats. He argues that international development is crucial to Germany’s foreign engagement, and that international cooperation would benefit from a more forceful organisation and positioning of German development agencies. [ By Christian Ruck ]

The international community is facing ever more daunting challenges, including global financial and economic turmoil, climate change, food shortages, depleted natural environments and the erosion of biodiversity.

The set-up and the capacities of international organisations are overburdened by these challenges. Whereas these agencies ought to rise above performance as usual, all they do is multiply and grow fat. Special interests thwart the multilateral system, and its decision-making is time consuming. Coordination within the UN is non-transparent and inefficient, so international policy is typically made in small, informal circles.

Therefore, two things must be done:
– We have to stem further fragmentation, and make the entire international system leaner and more effective, and
– we have to redraft development policy in order to make it a core component of a coherent strategy to rise to all global challenges.

Germany has an important role to play in this arena. Our country is the second most important donor, and it is internationally considered an honest broker. We must make use of our potential to speed up the international process of negotiations and reform. In the architecture of international relations, developmental engagement is an important pillar. We need tangible initiatives – just consider internationally coordinated measures against bad governance or a plan to implement the „European Code of Conduct“ for the division of labour in international development. The way to prove competence and leadership is to get such initiatives started.

In order to allow German development agencies to shoulder such demanding tasks, their own set-up needs to be re-organised. The Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) must become stronger in terms of devising strategy, negotiating capacity and staff.

In a cooperative, cross-ministerial approach, the BMZ should make its knowledge of the developing world available to all government departments. Development policy is a core component of preventive security policy. In our „Security Strategy for Germany“, the CDU/CSU Faction in the Bundestag has already demanded that the Federal Security Council be strengthened by the establishment of a Permanent Secretariat for preventing crises and reacting to them. In this context, developmental programmes will be of the essence.

The institutional set-up of Germany’s overseas-development agencies should become a model for future negotiations. We need to streamline the agencies in structural as well as sectoral terms. Specialisation is required. Taking into account our experience and comparative advantages, we will have to become more decisive in choosing key sectors and key instruments that will allow our partners to assume responsibility for their own development.

Accordingly, we must finally reform the set-up of our agencies. A government run by us will therefore implement first the proposals made by the Bundesrechungshof, Germany’s federal audit office: in order to boost the BMZ’s steering capacity we will re-organise the ministry and make sure that it gets a stronger representation abroad.

Next, we intend to merge all German agencies of technical cooperation into a single body. On that basis, and by involving all relevant agencies under more intensive and compelling BMZ guidance, we will boost the coherence and effectiveness of Germany’s technical and financial cooperation. Moreover, we will commission research as requested by the federal auditors, and such expertise will provide a sound basis to decide whether further steps towards merging the agencies of financial and technical cooperation would make enough sense to tackle the serioius legal and organisational challenges involved.