Claire Booth

When voters in the UK decided to leave the EU, the British Council pledged to respect the will of the electorate and strive towards a healthy and collaborative relationship with Europe moving forward.

Holding the current presidency of the Practitioners' Network* of European development co-operation organisations, the British Council led a positive declaration in November 2016 that committed all members to a more effective strategic partnership alongside improved engagement with one another and the EU.

The declaration came in response to growing European challenges that require multilateral solutions, such as migration. However, it also responds to the British Council conclusions on stepping up Joint Programming, adopted on 12 May 2016. This acknowledged the benefits of European partners working together and called on the European Commission and the European External Action Service to encourage the voluntary joint implementation initiatives of EU Member States.

The British Council conclusions are also a positive reflection of the EU’s desire to prioritise working with European organisations.

Currently, the EU gives a significant proportion of its budget to international organisations. It is argued, however, that for the EU to achieve its own development policy objectives, it should predominantly use European expertise, particularly in cases where European players have an added value, clear expertise in the field, and are aligned with the partner country goals. Furthermore, European countries fund the EU’s general budget, while international organisations make no such contribution.

Krzys Jurek, Head of EU Affairs in British Council Brussels office noted:

“While many of these members are strong bilateral players, combining our efforts and expertise will give us greater impact and better value for money. This is an essential step towards improving the effectiveness of the EU’s development co-operation effort. European organisations committed to working more closely together, to sharing analysis and know-how, and to seeking ways to make this happen on a regular basis.”

The British Council alone is currently delivering over 50 contracts with the EU, worth roughly €106 million, all of which are delivering cultural relations and development impact. We also have over 60 additional EU contracts in the pipeline worth around €180 million.

Whilst Brexit negotiations will dictate how and whether the UK continues to access EU funds, the Practitioners' Network objectives and declaration will help secure the partnerships that will enable us to fulfil our cultural relations mission for years to come.

* The Practitioners' Network is a group of 14 European organisations with a public service mission that co-operate to deliver development work to the EU. The Brussels declaration was made in early November by our CEO, Ciarán Devane, who is the current president of the network.

For more information, please contact Louise Kallora-Stimpson.


Claire Booth


February 2017