Today in Luxembourg, the European Investment Bank (EIB), Agence française de développement (AFD) and KfW Entwicklungsbank (KfW) concluded an agreement designed to strengthen their cooperation in the Mediterranean countries and African, Caribbean and Pacific States in which they operate. The agreement builds on their long experience of working together and is based on shared objectives. It also represents a milestone in the partnership policy promoted by the EIB in recent months aimed at coordinating the efforts of all European development players within a formal but pragmatic framework.

Almost half the funds made available to assist poor or emerging countries comes from the European Union and its Member States, making them the world's leading aid providers. However, European aid is too often fragmented and does not achieve the recognition that it deserves. As a result, it does not carry sufficient weight in the international forums in which the main lines of the fight against poverty and development aid policy are discussed.

With this agreement, the EIB, AFD and KfW are undertaking to ensure more rational use of their resources and respective skills. In practical terms, the three institutions will promote co-financing arrangements, the pooling of resources - at both the project appraisal and monitoring stages - and the sharing of services such as their networks of external offices. They will also strive for greater information-sharing and cooperation on the various aid issues. Lastly, they will foster staff exchanges in a sign of their mutual respect for each other's work.

The agreement is open to all specialised European institutions wishing to participate in this effort to create greater synergies between public development aid agencies, which constitutes moreover an obligation to the institutions' stakeholders (the shareholders and Europe's taxpayers) as well as to the beneficiary partner countries, for whom aid must be as uncomplicated and effective as possible. The November EIB workshop on the harmonisation of procurement procedures in the Mediterranean region, to which the AFD and KfW actively contributed, also formed part of this effort.

Today's establishment of shared, coordinated responsibility between the EIB and its main bilateral partners marks another step on the road towards a stronger and higher profile European development aid system.