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A European Approach to Public Technical Assistance

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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

A European Approach to Public Technical Assistance

What is Public Technical Assistance and how should it incorporate the requirements of the Aid Effectiveness Agenda? The European Network of Implementing Development Agencies, EUNIDA, offers some answers to these questions. An important point in the debate on aid effectiveness is the improvement of the quality of technical cooperation and the need to ensure a demand driven approach for all operations, as highlighted in recent reports from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Court of Auditors. As a response to this debate, the Operational Framework on Aid Effectiveness of the Council of the European Union and especially the Backbone Strategy aim to put into practice the commitments of the Paris Declaration and subsequent Accra Agenda for Action (AAA), with a special emphasis on technical cooperation reform.
 In this framework they highlight public expertise and its role in technical assistance programmes that aim to foster democratic governance.
Public Technical Assistance Explained
Public Technical Assistance is identified as a technical cooperation mechanism that contributes to effectiveness. But, what is public technical assistance? Why is it particularly relevant? And what added value does it bring to European cooperation?  Public Technical Assistance, referring to Technical Cooperation and not just the personnel involved, is a capacity building instrument based on the transfer of expertise and exchange of experiences among equals with the aim of strengthening public institutions to help ensure good governance, social cohesion and sustainable human development. This is usually provided through technical cooperation mechanisms such as institutional twinning and exchange of experiences among equals that deliver the added value of building capacity to form the basis for future technical cooperation mechanisms, including triangular cooperation and south-south cooperation.  Therefore, Public Technical Assistance goes much further than the provision of experts only. It includes a wide scope of modalities, such as the design of methodologies, sectoral know-how, management tools, training courses, network activities, etc. which can be used to strengthen the local and national structures.  Crucial to the success of this process is to foster real country leadership free from any procedural obstacles placed there by the donor and the wider development community, which calls for donors to find a new and improved strategic approach while country leadership growths.

Source: European Commission