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Oxfam International welcomes the commitment the EU has shown recently to improving its institutions for crisis management and post-conflict reconstruction. However, one key area of weakness in EU policy and practice has not been addressed in the recent proposals for institutional and policy development. In its work in South Eastern Europe, the EU has failed consistently to develop links with local organisations below government level, and to include local actors in the process of policy making and implementation. This has seriously limited the effectiveness of EU assistance to promote stability, security and equitable economic growth in the region. This paper examines the EU’s work in South Eastern Europe since the end of the Kosovo war and the establishment of the Stability Pact in June 1999. It sets out why the EU’s failure to form constructive partnerships with people in the region has limited the effectiveness of its aid. It then proposes specific recommendations for the EU’s work in the region. We hope that the paper will provide a useful contribution to the development of EU institutions in future, leading to a more effective and efficient use of EU aid in South Eastern Europe and elsewhere in the world.

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