Special Report No 32/2018: European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa: Flexible but lacking focus
I. Since January 2013, the Financial Regulation governing the EU budget has allowed the European Commission to create and administer European Union trust funds for external actions. These are multi-donor trust funds for emergency, post-emergency or thematic actions.
II. The European Union Emergency trust fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa (the ‘EUTF for Africa’) is aimed at fostering stability and helping to better manage migration by addressing the root causes of destabilisation, forced displacement and irregular migration. It was agreed at the Valletta Summit on Migration in November 2015. It supports activities in 26 countries across three regions of Africa (referred to as ‘windows’): the Sahel and Lake Chad, the Horn of Africa and North of Africa.
III. We examined whether the EUTF for Africa is well-designed and well-implemented. We conclude that the EUTF for Africa is a flexible tool, but considering the unprecedented challenges that it faces, its design should have been more focused. Compared to traditional instruments, the EUTF for Africa was faster in launching projects. It has, overall, managed to speed up the signing of contracts and making advance payments. However, projects face similar challenges as traditional instruments that delay their implementation.
IV. We found that the objectives of the EUTF for Africa are broad. This has allowed flexibility in terms of adapting the support to suit different and changing situations, but is less useful when it comes to steering action across the three windows and for measuring impact. The Commission has not comprehensively analysed and quantified the needs to be addressed by the trust fund, nor the means at its disposal. We also found that the strategic guidance provided to the managers of the three windows has not been specific enough, and the pooling of resources and capacities of donors is not yet sufficiently effective.
V. Concerning the implementation, we found that the procedures for selecting projects varied between the windows and that the criteria for assessing project proposals were not sufficiently clear or documented. Furthermore, the comparative advantage of funding projects through the EUTF for Africa was not always well explained.
VI. While the EUTF for Africa has adopted a common monitoring system, it is not yet operational and the three windows use different systems for monitoring performance. We found that project objectives were often not SMART and indicators used for measuring project performance lacked baselines. The audited projects were at an early phase of implementation but had started to produce outputs.
VII. The EUTF for Africa has contributed to the effort of decreasing the number of irregular migrants passing from Africa to Europe, but this contribution cannot be measured precisely.
VIII. Based on our audit, we make a number of recommendations, which should be implemented as soon as possible, given that the EUTF for Africa is expected to end in 2020. The Commission should:
- improve the quality of the objectives of the EUTF for Africa,
- revise the selection procedure for projects,
- take measures to speed up implementation,
- improve the monitoring of the EUTF for Africa.