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Catalonia earmarks 15.7 million euros for cooperation grants

The Government’s main priorities are the refugee crisis, Middle East and Central America


04 August 2017 03:35 PM


Helle Kettner | Barcelona

Catalonia is known internationally for its cooperation and its activity in different networks in the area of cooperation. From this perspective, according to the Minister of Institutional Affairs and Relations and the Exterior and Transparency, Raül Romeva, “the Government’s aim is to increase this international presence and empower the sector itself,” he said at the presentation in Barcelona of the provisional figures for 2017 for cooperation projects and programs earlier this week.

The Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation (ACCD) has earmarked 15.7 million euros for subsidies to 77 international cooperation projects and programs run by NGOs in 2017. The funds will go in particular to refugees and the Middle East, which account for 3.3 million euros for seven projects and programs, with another 3.5 million euros going to 11 programs and projects in Central America.

  • "There is a big difference between having a cooperation department or agency and carrying out cooperation policies”

    Raül Romeva · Minister of Institutional Affairs and Relations and the Exterior and Transparency

A cooperation agency is not the same as cooperation work

For Catalonia, the work of cooperation is not just about having a cooperation agency or department, said the minister. At the presentation, Romeva stressed that there is “a big difference between having a cooperation department or agency and carrying out cooperation policies”. According to the minister, it is important to bear in mind that the agency is actually just an instrument and that “it is the government and all of its departments that coordinate, channel and promote the cooperation”. “It is the work of the whole country when we carry out cooperation policies,” he said.

This year’s grants are good news for the cooperation sector. After five years of cuts, the budget is back to “a similar level as in 2011”, said the ACCD head, Manel Vila. “Of course you can always argue that it is not enough, but it allows us to set a trend towards recovery,” the minister added. The budget reaches a total of 30.2 million euros this year, which is more than double the 14 million from 2014.  

Six pilllars of public cooperation

Public cooperation policies are based on six fundamental pillars. The first is to give support to the sector, which Catalonia does by participating in programs and projects all over the world. According to Romeva, the aim is to “empower the sector and therefore the NGOs and the people working in the field”. Secondly, public cooperation policies aim at promoting Catalonia’s presence in international networks. Also, the policies aim at speeding up the reaction to emergency situations: the minister stressed the need for “maximum flexibility so as to answer the needs.” However, he also emphasized the importance of not putting structural problems aside: “We cannot work at the pace of CNN and move from emergency to emergency, but nor can we be held back by administrative rigidity either, as it makes it difficult to react to the needs,” he said.

Promoting government agreements with other countries is another of the pillars in public policies. According to Romeva, “it is important to seek bilateral agreements with governments, both in other European countries so as to carry out projects in third places or directly in countries that are carrying out different projects or programs in their own territory.” Romeva emphasized the importance of this way of working, as it “allows for helping out countries in different fields, such as health or law, for instance”.

A further pillar is to commit to coordination and collaboration. “Both coordination and collaboration are very important. Sometimes the lack of coordination means that the projects or programs do not have the expected effect,” the minister said. And he added that the idea is to work on coordination, “both between institutions and in the sector as a whole.”

The last pillar is to promote the consistency of public policies. Policy consistency is important to Catalonia “both in the broader sense of the word, but also in multiyear projects and programs,” the minister said. And he added that this means that they can “be effective by acting on the spot in a mid and long-term perspective”.  This is what can “make the difference, not only in the way we organize the activities here, but also on how we organize and develop the programs in the fields,” he concluded.

Geographical priority areas

The Catalan Government’s geographical areas of priority are refugees and the Middle East (3,300,287 euros), with Morocco (1,058,533 euros) also a priority “because of the historical bilateral links between the two countries,” the minister said. In Africa, two of the most important areas are “Senegal (1,368,964 euros) and Mozambique (1,739,461 euros) with the health hub we are developing there,” Romeva said. Furthermore, in Central America (3,506,425 euros) projects and programs focusing on urban violence are being developed in Honduras and El Salvador. Further south, in Colombia (2,038,693 euros), there are projects and programs dealing with the effects and consequences of the war.

Long term programs

Although the NGOs present more yearlong projects (122 in 2017) than multiyear programs (37), the foreign minister and the head of the ADDC are confident that this trend can be turned around. “We have to have a mid or long-term multiyear perspective to transform and deal with the causes, instead of limiting ourselves to alleviating the problems. We want to break with the logic of a single NGO project and go further to develop a multiyear program with diverse actors coordinating with each other,” said the minister. “Cooperation rather than competition between actors is what will be rewarded,” he insisted.


  • Foreign Affairs minister at the presentation of Catalan international cooperation 2017 (by Helle Kettner)

  • Foreign Affairs minister at the presentation of Catalan international cooperation 2017 (by Helle Kettner)