The first-ever EU trust fund, set up in Africa, can be counted as a “positive achievement”, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. The Bêkou EU trust fund for the Central African Republic has attracted aid, and most of its projects have delivered their expected outputs, although few additional donors have come forward. The fund also provides enhanced visibility for the EU in the region, say the auditors.
Launched in July 2014, the Bêkou fund was the first of its kind managed by the European Commission. Its donors are the EU, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland, who have pledged a total of €146 million to support the Central African Republic’s exit from crisis and its reconstruction.
The auditors assessed whether the fund’s establishment was justified, how well it was being managed and whether it was achieving its objectives. They found that the choice to set up the fund and its design were appropriate, even though there was neither a formal assessment of the choice of funding vehicle nor a comprehensive needs analysis. Management of the fund has not yet reached its full potential, say the auditors. While it has attracted aid and most projects have delivered their expected outputs, it has had only limited influence on coordination among stakeholders. Its procedures could be improved, and monitoring and evaluation are not yet fully developed.
“Bêkou means hope in the Sango language of the Central African Republic,” said Mrs Bettina Jakobsen, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “We hope very much that the fund can contribute towards building the foundations of a better future for the country.”
To help improve the design and management of the Bêkou fund and other EU trust funds, the auditors recommend that the European Commission should develop further guidance for the choice of aid vehicle and for needs analyses, in order to define the scope of trust funds. The Commission should also improve donor coordination, selection procedures and performance measurement.
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