The European Commission:
The Future of Mine Action From A Donor’s Perspective
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An interview with Daniela
Dicorrado-Andreoni, Principal Administrator of the European Commission,
highlights the goals of the European Commission and the role and future
of donor funding.
By Margaret S. Busé, Editor
Margaret Busè (MB): What is the current policy
for the European Commission (EC) when it comes to funding mine action?
Daniela Dicorrado-Andreoni (DA): The EC is a
very unique body. It is an executive body that launches and carries out
processes of legislation. The EC community competence manages a large part
of the budget of the European Union. The budget for landmines is under the
community pillar, therefore under commission responsibility. The legal basis
of this budget is a specific APL regulation, which was initiated as a
follow-up to Ottawa.
In 1996, in the wake of the Ottawa process, the European Parliament created,
on its own initiative, an APL budget line. Before then, demining was done by
the commission through development or rehabilitation projects. Demining was
considered a prerequisite for other major policies. Mine action was not
considered for its own specificity and did not benefit from tailor-made
policies and measures. Since July 2001, this gap has been bridged; a legal
instrument and a reinforced budget will thus allow the European Union to
play a stronger role. The Ottawa process has the merit to establish a target
and ambition and therefore to coagulate the wheels of all the States’
Parties and donors and integrating institutions towards one common goal.
We think that now the moment is ripe to focus on the mine-affected countries
and to make efforts to empower the local authorities to properly manage
their mine problems (e.g., to make their own plan, develop their own program
and establish their own priorities).
MB: Do you encourage countries to develop and
establish their own priorities through the setting up of Mine Action Centers
(MAC), or do they have a centralized body to help them with their decision
making process for that specific country? Can you take it from a broader
perspective that an organization like the UN or the EC can give them the
parameters to follow similar to the Organization of American States (OAS)
and South America?
DA: I would say both ways and neither way,
because each country really needs a specific recipe sometimes. You can have
some basic building blocks, that can be a priority, but it should be avoided
to have institutions governing the infrastructure development. What we would
like to provide is best practices and know-how in capacity to manage mine
action in response to bottom-up-defined needs. Good practices do not
necessarily imply the build-up of institutions. It is possible to have lean
structures with high-impact skills. We want to avoid supporting cathedrals
in the desert, institutions set up for the sake of establishing long-term
ventures. Therefore, MACs, yes, if these mean flexible capacity aimed at
getting rid as quickly as possible of the problem. The donors are keen to
make the approach to mine action more efficient and measurable. We would
like to help a wider distribution of information creation and management
capabilities. This aim will be pursued in cooperation with international
players like the UN, the U.S. and Canada on the basis of the priorities
defined at local level. In this process of empowerment, the international
donors must act like facilitators.
I would like to propose a “hands-off” process whereby you provide all
ingredients that are necessary for the mine action program to run properly
and provide the financial aid that can support the best practices for each
mine action field. Donors can provide the financial aid to let the countries
create their instrument by themselves and to tell the donors, “This is the
situation, our needs, and you can help us in these areas.” Measurement of
the operations and related Performance Indicators is another area where the
commission wants to play a leading role. Assessment systems are being
elaborated in order to provide the donors with a clear understanding of how
the money has been used and if the money has been used properly.
MB: How do you show donors that the money is
used properly? How can that be measured completely? We do know that if
certain amounts of farmland are cleared that’s put back to productivity –
you can have a measurable item to show to donors, but what about if it’s
just something as simple as an access road or water access or something
that’s not so measurable in terms of economic benefit but improves the
quality of life?
DA: Impact Assessment Surveys are based on a
number of indicators that allow both the local decision-makers and the
donors to identify how the priorities have been set in the country. The
indicators are of different natures: humanitarian, political,
security-related, economic, social, educational, etc. Donors can evaluate
whether the priorities selected by the beneficiary countries appeal to their
In parallel, further parameters are under investigation to measure the
performance of a variety of mine action on the ground. The EC has launched a
feasibility study that should soon result in a report. It is premature to
talk about this.
MB: Is it possible to get donors interested in
funding an area where there’s still instability?
DA: Well, as far as the European Community or
the European Union is concerned, we are more and more committed to
post-conflict measures and in-conflict prevention. However, the safety of
the humanitarian operators is always a key concern of the donors.
MB: Do you think the funding priorities have
changed in the last five years? You mentioned that now donors are very
interested in funding capacity building or mine action towards capacity
DA: In the past, the European Community has
spent an incredible amount of money for demining, but without a rationale.
We have only a few years ahead of us to “eradicate” APL. Financial resources
will not increase. We can only increase efficiency and improve the use of
limited resources. Donors’ coordination at local level is one of the
challenges we are faced with if we want to make a quantum leap in efficiency
and rational use of resources. It might be useful to have some regional
After years of “mine action practice,” lessons have been learned. I think
that the culture of mine action is changing. The Kosovo example is a leading
light. Its example should be followed in other mine-affected regions of the
MB: What is ahead for the EC for funding mine
action? Are there specific funding goals?
DA: The EC is preparing a Multi-annual Strategy
for Mine Action 2002-2004 and a related Multi-annual Programming. This
strategy has been closely coordinated with the UN and the U.S. and takes
into consideration the portfolio of possible cooperation activities between
the EC and Canada. The Strategy further foresees a budgetary envelope of
40 million (EUR) per year for mine action.
MB: Do you expect donor funding to change?
DA: I have some concerns on the continued
funding level of a few donors, but in general, I do not expect any visible
drop before the Mine Ban Treaty revision conference.
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