Vienna, 12 November 2004 - The OECD has given Austria a good testimonial for the successful reform of her development cooperation programme carried out over several years. The new Development Cooperation Act and the establishment of the Austrian Development Agency, which has been in charge of the implementation of all programmes and development projects since January 2004, are rated as especially positive. Furthermore, the report welcomes Austria's efforts to concentrate more on South-East Europe.
Best rating in 20 years
In its current review, the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) specifically praises the Austrian Development Cooperation for its successful setting of priorities, its forward-looking reforms and its comprehensive commitment to reducing poverty and achieving international development objectives. Furthermore, the improvements in the statistical recording of Austrian performance in this field were stressed in a positive light. For Ambassador Dr. Georg Lennkh, Head of Development Cooperation and Cooperation with Eastern Europe at the Foreign Ministry, the positive OECD report shows "that Austria is on the right road in terms of her Development Cooperation and Cooperation with Eastern Europe." This year's OECD review also marked a premiere as regards neighbourly relations: the Czech Republic became the first Eastern European country to participate in a review of the Austrian Development Cooperation, the aim being to give Austria's neighbour an opportunity to prepare for the OECD standards of development cooperation.
Good prospects for the future
The DAC report also paints a pleasing picture for the future of the Austrian Development Cooperation, the Austrian Federal Government having committed itself to the EU target of increasing the budget for development cooperation to 0.33% of gross national income by 2006. However, the report recommends that Austria define a clear strategy in order to achieve this budget target. "Long-term financial planning is necessary in order to organise the Austrian assistance more predictably", stated the authors of the DAC report, adding that in this context efforts must also be made to mobilise government support. According to the DAC report, the newly founded Austrian Development Agency offers new opportunities and challenges, strengthening the role of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in the coordination of all Austrian development activities. The auditors also stress that the Austrian support for the local civil societies is appreciated by the partner countries and encourages Austria to continue and intensify her dialogue with the partner governments too.
Strong commitment to South-East Europe
A point especially highlighted by the DAC is the Austrian commitment to the development of the countries in South-East Europe, bringing them closer to the EU. The auditors recommend that Austria further intensify her dialogue with the South-East European partner countries. "We will be glad to take up this suggestion by the OECD", said Ambassador Lennkh. "The Austrian Development Cooperation and Cooperation with Eastern Europe will further develop its strengths and make use of its comparative advantages, especially in its cooperation with the countries of South-East Europe."
Clear improvement as compared to the 1999 review
The last review of the Austrian Development Cooperation was performed by the DAC in 1999. Back then, the concentration of Austrian assistance on selected partner countries, the priority focus on cross-section topics and the decentralised project coordination by regional offices were rated as a successful strategy; however, in 1999 the DAC criticised the relatively high number of partner countries, the limited number of country and sector strategies and the personnel situation. "By founding the Austrian Development Agency and establishing the new Three-Year Programme for Austrian Development Policy, we were able to solve these problems", said Ambassador Lennkh. The OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) examines the official development cooperation activities of its members at regular intervals. By means of coordination and quality assurance, the government development assistance activities of the OECD member countries are to be harmonised and made more efficient. This year's review was performed by Finland and Germany, supported by employees of the DAC Secretariat.
Austria: DAC Peer Review. Main Findings and Recommendations.