Poland will lead the EU Presidency for the next six months, being the fourth former communist country to hold the EU presidency, after Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Poland has announced that its development cooperation agenda will focus on strengthening and developing the partnership with neighborhood countries and will push forward the Eastern Partnership.
In times when aid effectiveness is on the spotlight, this approach could challenge the monopoly over development policy held by Western European countries (a policy rutted in colonial legacies) and bring a breath of fresh air. On the other hand, it could redirect the attention from the least developed countries that do not meet the geographical criteria (such as Sub Saharan Africa).
The “Polish Presidency” puts the peaceful democratization process (education, media, freedom of expression, and civil society) at the top of the agenda, which is only natural in the context of the “Arab Spring”. It also only comes natural to a state like Poland, which achieved a healthy state of democratization after the fall of its communist regime and was beneficiary of aid itself.
Similarly, the transition to democracy experience is often pushed forward by new “EU Member States” from “Eastern Europe” as a competitive advantage on the development cooperation “market”. This experience could be materialized if a “new financial instrument” is set-up to assist the democratization process in “Middle East” and “North Africa” (MENA) and if the Western donors recognize their legitimacy as actors of change in international development.
Meanwhile, the new EU member states (that became new donors) are confronting with old mentalities: the shift from being assisted to becoming donor countries is hard to swallow in times of financial hardship.
Foreign Policy Romania
UK Representation to the EU