Interview with Claire Godfrey, Head of Policy and Campaigns at BOND. Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development.
Interview by Alexandre Mortelette and Antoniya Argirova.
1. What will be, in your opinion, the impact of Brexit on European development policy?
The answer to this very much depends on what kind of relationship the UK establishes on development cooperation. Based on what we have heard so far from the government, it’s likely that UK will prioritise future cooperation with the EU in areas like security, migration, and humanitarian response, which is consistent with the UK’s proposed security partnership with the EU. Our hope would be that the UK retains the role it has traditionally played in establishing international partnerships and networks on programming, policy and advocacy. Without this, the UK faces losing their influence and position, as well as the other benefits of working with partners in the EU such as building on expertise and furthering impact, as well as avoiding duplication.
2. The UK is the second largest recipient of EU aid to civil society organisations (CSOs). How will the Brexit affect CSOs in the United Kingdom? Are there already any existing consequences?
Organisations are already diversifying their funding sources or shifting their EU fundraising operations out of the UK or establishing new operations in EU countries. UK organisations have traditionally played leading roles in established international partnerships and networks on programming, policy and advocacy, but they now face losing their influence and position, as well as the other benefits of working with partners in the EU and beyond.
3. What are your demands and recommandations concerning UK development NGOs?
Our priority is that any future UK trade, agricultural, tax, investment and aid policies should leave the world’s poorest and most marginalised better off than at present or, at a minimum, no worse off than under current arrangements.
4. Is there a debate in the UK regarding the impact of Brexit on international development? Has the civil society in the UK been able to give its input to policy makers?
There are a group of Bond members who have been working through what the implications will be on their programming.
5. In the Brexit context, what means are at your disposal to help protecting the UK development sector?
Bond has the ability to convene a large number and diverse range of NGOs so we can gather intelligence and find out what the very real consequences of a no deal Brexit could be and we are working to pass this on to Department for International Development to ensure this is taken into consideration.
6. Bond is member of Concord Europe, the European NGO confederation for relief and development. How do you see your role in this platform after the Brexit?
I think this role will be more important than ever. We need to ensure that the UK civil society continues to have a voice and presence at an EU level so we continue to ensure that aid and development prioritises helping people and isn’t increasing used for domestic purposes.