On 10 November 2020, German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Anna Cavazzini of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“The EU created the Trust Fund for Peace in Colombia to support the implementation of the Peace Agreement of 2016, which focuses on rural development and the reintegration of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) fighters. With regard to rural development in Colombia, the EU supports the implementation of Territorially Focused Development Plans (PDETs). However, there is concern that the new Future Zones initiative (Zonas Futuro), created by the Colombian Government to implement its defence policy, coincide with PDET areas. It is therefore possible that EU funds intended for promoting peace are instead being used for defence and militarisation policies.
1. Is the Commission aware of this situation and does it have monitoring and control mechanisms in place to ensure that EU funds for promoting peace in Colombia are not used for other purposes, such as defence policies?
2. Can the Commission explain the process for the impact assessment and evaluation of the Trust Fund in 2019, which led to the decision to prolong the fund for another four years? Stakeholders thought that the process significantly lacked transparency.
3. What will the Commission do to ensure that these processes become more transparent and inclusive in the future?”
On 29 January 2021, International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The Commission is aware of the Colombian Government’s Policy ‘Zonas Futuro’ and of their overlap, in some areas, with the Territorially Focused Development Plans.
The EU Trust Fund (EUTF), intended to support PDETs, is not used for defence and military purposes, as all funds supporting PDETs are channeled through civil society organisations, EU Member States agencies and the United Nations (UN).
All these implementing partners maintain a regular dialogue with the EU Delegation in Bogota and report every three months in detail on their ongoing actions on the ground, in line with an agreed results-based action plan.
The EUTF Team in Bogota regularly collects information from all projects and uploads it on the EUTF website in full transparency. Consolidated reports are presented to the EUTF Board during its annual meeting.
In 2019, the EUTF Board evaluated the results positively and requested unanimously an extension of the EUTF for up to 4 years. On 15 December 2020, the Commission, following consultation of the European Parliament and the Council, decided to extend the duration of the EUTF only until 2021.
All EUTFs are implemented in accordance with the Financial Regulation in order to ensure the transparent use of EU funds and economic resources. Members of the European Parliament are regularly invited as observers to the meetings of the EUTF Board and the Operational Committee. EUTFs produce monthly implementation reports, annual reports and working documents to the European Parliament and Council.
EUTF Colombia also publishes quarterly reports on the results achieved. Final evaluations of EUTF projects will assess more in depth results and collect best practices. These evaluations will be consolidated and presented to the EUTF Board and published on the EUTF website.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/colombia-banana-plantation-bananas-4931474/