Peer reviews of DAC members

Greece (2011), DAC Peer Review: Main Findings and Recommendations



Overall framework for development co-operation

A good time for reform but Greece needs to ensure reform is implemented


Key findings:

Greece lacks a modern legal and strategic framework to create a sound basis for its development cooperation, reduce fragmentation and increase the effectiveness of its aid. To address this, Greece has prepared new legislation and a five-year programme. These draft documents need to be further refined to ensure that the reform is specific, effective and follows international best practice. Greece will need to secure broad cross-government and cross-party ownership and political backing to ensure approval, implementation and sustainability for the projected legislative, institutional and programmatic reforms.



To build a sound basis for a new, effective aid system and programme, Greece should:

  • Secure broad backing and ownership of the reform of Greek development co-operation by consulting across the administration and with government, parliament and civil society. This should help the approval and implementation of the reform.
  • Include the recommendations of this peer review in the draft legislation and five-year programme to ensure a strong and sound basis for the reform and its implementation.
  • Ensure that the reform is adopted and effectively implemented.


The reform proposals for development co-operation are outlined in (i) a draft law to modernise the legal framework and overall objectives of Greek development co operation; and (ii) a draft presidential decree to modernise the organisation and administration of the General Directorate for International Development Co operation (referred to here as DG Hellenic Aid) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). DG Hellenic Aid is also preparing a five-year programme for development co operation (2011-2015) to guide the planning and implementation of its development co operation policies and commitments. The five-year programme will be approved after the new legislation comes into force. The timing of the 2011 peer review is recognised by Greece as an opportunity to integrate the recommendations of the review into the draft documents. The proposed reform, once it is implemented, should also address most of the 2006 peer review recommendations. It is crucial that, once adopted, the legislation and policy are put into practice and bring about needed changes to making Greek development aid more effective.


To be implemented successfully, the reform of Greek development co operation must be debated and endorsed across the administration and at the highest political level (i.e. parliament and the Council of Ministers). It is crucial that all development actors have ownership of the reform. Cross-government and cross-party political backing are the best guarantee of stable political and legislative support for the reform and the development programme in the long term. To help achieve this, it is important to have sustained political support at high level to ensure the reform is passed, provide accountability and win support from government, parliament, other actors and the public.

Ensuring that law and policy apply to all entities involved in Greek development co-operation


Key findings:

Greece’s development co-operation involves several ministries and development actors which appear not co-ordinate their action. While the draft law and the five-year programme seek to create a coherent and unified development co-operation system and policy, they do not completely ensure that all institutional players are obliged to work within the new common framework or are accountable for following the vision and policy. This must be addressed if all Greek aid is to be coherent, efficient and effective.  



To achieve a unified, coherent and effective development co-operation system and programme, Greece should:

  • Apply the principles and policy priorities outlined in the new law and draft programme to all actors of Greek development co-operation – i.e. activities financed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) development budgets and through the separate budget lines of other ministries -  and make all institutional players accountable.
  • Formalise the proposed new inter-ministerial committee for co-ordinating international development policy; make membership by key line ministries mandatory, and outline rules of procedure and accountability mechanisms.
  • Make the five-year programme, to be approved by the Council of Ministers, the binding government-wide medium-term strategy for development co-operation planning and implementation.
  • Ensure that all relevant ministries are engaged in the finalisation and monitoring of the current draft five-year programme through the inter-ministerial committee, under DG Hellenic Aid’s leadership. Engage all relevant ministries and development actors early in the process of designing future five-year programmes.
  • Ensure that DG Hellenic Aid has the authority and capacity to take the lead in aid policy making, co-ordination, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.


The current inter-ministerial committee for organising and co-ordinating international economic relations (EOSDOS) is the main forum for co-ordinating development co-operation and promoting coherence and synergies among the development activities of the various official players. However, it falls short of achieving this, as its membership is not formalised and meetings concentrate on information sharing. The DAC therefore supports the plans to upgrade and strengthen this committee in the draft law to make it a strong co-ordinating body for all of Greece’s development co-operation. The new committee should meet regularly at both technical and political levels to design a common programme with clear priorities and objectives, define the best channels for aid, monitor the development programme regularly to ensure it is being implemented and is achieving the expected results, and serve as a forum for common accountability for development results.


The MFA, through DG Hellenic Aid, has the legal mandate for development co-operation policy making, strategy, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. However, it does not have authority or influence over other activities financed by about 14 Greek ministries through their own budget lines. Although the draft law aims to strengthen DG Hellenic Aid’s role in all aspects of Greek development co operation (article 10), it does not give it the authority to ensure that other line ministries pursue the same policies and objectives. The law ought to: (i) apply to all ODA activities, including those of line ministries and other public entities allocating resources to development co operation; (ii) require these entities to be transparent and accountable for their contribution to development results; and (iii) clarify that DG Hellenic Aid is responsible overall for the aid programme. 

According to DG Hellenic Aid, the five-year programme, as currently drafted, will provide the strategic framework for delivering aid and contributing to the MDGs. It is important that all Greek parties that provide official development assistance are involved in the design of the five-year programme and use it as the basis for their planning and reporting to make Greek development aid more predictable, effective and efficient. Having the programme approved by the Council of Ministers should ensure that the five-year programme is binding on all public development actors. Clear responsibilities within ministries need to be established for monitoring implementation.


The five-year programme should be a practical, common tool that sets out the objectives and the concrete ways of delivering aid by identifying priority sectors and countries, the best channels for implementation among the different development actors (institutional, multilateral or civil society), and mechanisms for monitoring progress and measuring impact. 

Promoting development beyond aid


Key findings:

Greece is already bound by its EU commitments on policy coherence for development. However, none of the building blocks for policy coherence (political commitment, co-ordination mechanisms, monitoring systems) are in place and the draft law and five-year programme do not specify clearly the objectives and mechanisms for ensuring that policies across all Greece’s government departments are coherent with development goals.


To ensure that all government policies support, or at least do not undermine development objectives, Greece should:

  • Make a clear commitment in the law and five-year programme to ensuring that domestic and international policies are coherent with its overall development goals. Outline clear priorities for coherence for development based on the EU programme, as well as steps for achieving these priorities.
  • Ensure that the new law clearly mandates the inter-ministerial committee to scrutinise domestic, foreign and EU policy proposals for their impact on development and to monitor and report on the impact of incoherence in Greek policies on developing countries.
  • Reinforce DG Hellenic Aid’s role and capacity to support the inter-ministerial committee, and to promote and build awareness of policy coherence for development across the administration, parliament and Greek society. 



Given that many policy decisions affecting global development are taken in Brussels, Greece – like other EU member countries – emphasises the need for EU policies that are coherent with development goals. Greece can build on its efforts and reporting on EU policy coherence for development commitments. Greece intends to place greater emphasis on policy coherence for development in its five-year programme. Although the draft law mandates the inter-ministerial committee to examine non-development policies for their coherence with development objectives, Greece should make a clear commitment to policy coherence for development in the draft law and five-year programme. The policy coherence work done on immigration, environment and climate offers a good model for the type of government-wide mechanisms Greece needs to put in place as part of its current efforts to reform development co operation. 


Greece needs to put in place the three building blocks for policy coherence: (i) political commitment for policy coherence; (ii) policy coherence co-ordination mechanisms; and (iii) monitoring, analysis and reporting systems for policy coherence. A first inter-ministerial discussion on setting a framework for policy coherence for development has taken place. As in other DAC member countries it is important to build understanding among policy makers of the concept of policy coherence for development. The minister in charge of development co-operation and DG Hellenic Aid can raise awareness within the MFA, line ministries and parliament. Given DG Hellenic Aid’s limited human resources, Greece should explore what practical avenues exist for enhancing the administration’s policy coherence monitoring and analytical capacity.

Aid volume and allocation

Maximising the value of Greece’s aid through strategic budgeting and programming

Key findings:

Development expenditure of all development actors is hard to identify in the state budget, thus making the visibility, planning and monitoring of ODA difficult. By putting in place mechanisms for strategic budgeting and programming in its proposed reform Greece aims to lay sound foundations for managing and using resources effectively. The allocation of aid resources needs to be strategic and predictable, in line with the new development policy, and put greater emphasis on development results. 


To allocate its aid resources strategically, and to maximise the overall value of these flows, Greece should:

  • Move to programmatic aid budgeting through multi-year planning, with indicative budgets proposed annually by the inter-ministerial committee.
  • Identify all ODA expenditures, including those from line ministries’ budgets, in the state budget.
  • Ensure that all development aid is planned and disbursed in the framework of the five-year programme, and responds to identified expected results.


Greece is a relatively small DAC donor which faces severe challenges in meeting international aid commitments. Its official development assistance (ODA) thus amounted to USD 508 million in 2010 – a ratio of ODA to gross national income (GNI) of 0.17%. Greece did not meet its international aid commitment of giving 0.5% of its GNI as aid in 2010. In light of the state of its public finances, Greece is unlikely to meet the 2015 target of 0.7%. However, the DAC encourages Greece to continue reforming its development co-operation system so that current aid resources are programmed and managed efficiently and effectively, delivering quality assistance and building sound systems for delivering an increased aid budget when the economy recovers. 

Greece’s annual aid budget, which at present is planned and disbursed by several ministries, needs to be strategic and better planned. Between 2007 and 2009 less than one-fifth of Greece’s bilateral aid was allocated by the MFA/DG Hellenic Aid. Development aid expenditures by line ministries are usually only calculated at the end of the financial year when they submit statistical reports to DG Hellenic Aid. There is scope for increasing the predictability, management and visibility of Greece’s aid budget, especially through strategic planning and programming and by allowing DG Hellenic Aid to oversee a greater share of the development assistance budget through the inter-ministerial committee. The five-year programme should be a tool for common budget planning and setting of expected results. In the context of the general reform of Greece’s budget procedures, it would be helpful if the aid disbursed by line ministries was clearly identified in the state budget. MFA plans to identify all development aid expenditures in the state budget, as well as projected multilateral contributions by line ministries for the duration of the five-year programme. This is a necessary step. Like other DAC members, DG Hellenic Aid should be able to commit to multi-year projects or programmes, with a caveat indicating that they are subject to annual appropriations in the state budget. 

Focusing and rationalising: larger programmes, fewer priority countries


Key findings:

Greece’s aid is allocated to many beneficiary countries, through many implementing partners, and to many small projects, including a large number of scholarships. This reduces the impact and focus of Greek development aid. Greece can improve on that by allocating a larger share of its aid budget directly to a limited number of partners, priority countries and programmes, in line with aid effectiveness principles.


To focus its aid and make it more effective, Greece should:

  • Concentrate its bilateral aid on a limited number of priority countries, based on strategy papers commonly agreed with the partner country. It should also reduce the number of projects it funds in these countries, so it can increase the funding allocated to a few strategic programmes.
  • Evaluate whether and how a scholarships programme can contribute to strengthening capacity building in developing countries.
  • Rationalise the aid channeled through multilateral agencies and NGOs by supporting fewer partners and larger programmes.
  • Limiting the range of sectors and sub-sectors that Greece will support, being clear how they relate to the overall policy priorities and Greece’s comparative advantages in development co operation.


Currently only a small proportion of Greece’s total ODA, mainly the budget that is managed by DG Hellenic Aid, can be used to finance bilateral programmes and projects (12% of bilateral aid and 6% of ODA in 2009). Most of Greece’s bilateral aid is spent on technical co-operation - imputed student costs, scholarships – and refugee costs. The MFA’s decision to suspend new scholarships is an opportunity to evaluate the impact and relevance of any future scholarship programme. Other ministries extending similar scholarships should also review and evaluate their programmes. While the share of Greece’s development aid is not likely to increase in the near future, DG Hellenic Aid can maximise the value of its existing resources by focusing on fewer priority countries (ideally no more than ten, based on the experience of other similar sized donors) and supporting larger programmes and joint programmes with other donors, rather than small stand-alone projects. Country strategy papers should be practical tools, based on priority countries’ own development strategies, and outline a common programme to meet those needs, based on where Greece’s aid can have the most impact, thus ensuring ownership, predictability and effectiveness.

 Greece lacks a strategic approach to engaging with its multilateral partners. To address this, Greece needs to define a multilateral policy and strategic frameworks for planning and implementing focused aid that achieves results. A large part of multilateral aid goes to the EU, and the remaining multilateral aid is spread over a number of agencies. Greece should assess the comparative advantage of the various multilateral actors, based on multi-donor assessments as much as possible, and select a few to support in a strategic and programmatic way.

DG Hellenic Aid is currently clearing a backlog of 200 NGO projects. It needs to learn lessons from this process to assess how it has worked with NGOs in the past and what development results have been achieved through this channel. Greece has drafted an NGO policy which includes stricter criteria for selecting partner NGOs. Aid allocations to NGOs should reflect clear objectives outlined in the new NGO policy and could be based on results-oriented multi-annual partnerships with a few trusted NGOs rather than through the general calls for proposal approach.


Organisation and management: the need for thorough review and reform


Making DG Hellenic Aid fit for purpose


Key findings: 

The current organisation of DG Hellenic Aid makes it ill-suited to manage development aid effectively and to lead the enhanced Greek development aid system planned in the draft law and five-year programme. There is no evaluation function. DG Hellenic Aid needs to be restructured to allow for a more programmatic and results-based approach as well as a culture of co-operation and evaluation.


To make DG Hellenic Aid fit for purpose, Greece should:

  • Restructure DG Hellenic Aid to make it simpler and flatter, with fewer directorates and larger teams focusing on key functions such as policy, programming and corporate processes.
  • Use a new business model for delivering aid and limit calls for proposals to specific, targeted programmes. The line ministries that are to be implementing agencies should be identified through the five-year programme and in the country strategy papers. The country strategy papers, agreed together with the partner countries, should be the basis for delivering Greece’s bilateral aid.
  • Create a culture of results, monitoring and evaluation, by updating and rationalising DG Hellenic Aid’s procedures and creating an evaluation function following international standards.


The draft presidential decree plans to redefine DG Hellenic Aid’s organisational structure so that it can deliver aid in line with the priorities of the draft law. The new structure should address the fragmentation that is found throughout the Greek administration: small general directorates, each having several sections headed by a director and with just one or two people working in them. The DG’s new structure should be simpler, less hierarchical and focused on key functions, lifting barriers to co-operation. Units within the DG Hellenic Aid need to be of a critical size to be efficient and there should be a flatter management structure with fewer managers. DG Hellenic Aid is encouraged to assess the efficiency of its working procedures using an approach like workflow analysis. This will also help in building a case to put to the political leadership and parliament for rationalised bureaucratic procedures and a greater emphasis on results. 


 DG Hellenic Aid needs to focus on managing for results. It is aware that it needs to move away from general annual calls for proposals to a new business model based on meeting partner country priorities through a few high-impact programmes. In light of this, the draft law and presidential decree propose having regional and bilateral agreements on development co operation as well as general and specialised calls for proposals. The DAC urges Greece to use the country strategy papers as the basis for planning and delivering its five-year programme in priority countries. These country strategy papers should be prepared in consultation with priority countries and build on country analyses by the recipient country or other donors. They should include all official Greek development activities, have multi-annual indicative budget plans, identify the most appropriate channels (including line ministries) and make full use of a range of aid delivery approaches. The five-year programme should establish the line ministries’ role as strategic partners.  Under these partnerships, the implementation of specific activities should be  covered by country strategies and should not require the line ministry to go through a call for proposals. Greece should also consider a clear delegation of authority to embassies in priority countries for implementing projects and programmes. 


The draft law and presidential decree provide for a much-needed evaluation function. When outlining the role and responsibilities of this function, Greece should draw on international good practice (following DAC guidelines) and on the experience of other DAC donors. Once the function is established, it should promote a culture of learning, monitoring and evaluating throughout the aid system. 

To make the system more coherent, DG Hellenic Aid is encouraged to take the initiative in continuing to develop a culture of collaboration and trust among key institutional players and relevant NGOs. This will require backing from the MFA political leadership and senior management. Recent decisions taken at DG Hellenic Aid show that it can change how it manages aid and can achieve results through pragmatic measures by the inter-ministerial committee (e.g. multilateral mapping) and within DG Hellenic Aid (e.g. stopping calls for proposals in 2009, 2010 and 2011).

Establishing a cadre of development professionals in DG Hellenic Aid

Key findings:

DG Hellenic Aid finds it difficult to acquire and retain a cadre of development professionals in a system that is not geared for such staff management. Recruiting specialist staff is not currently a viable option, given budget constraints. For DG Hellenic Aid to play a leading role in Greek development co-operation and ensure high quality aid, it is crucial that it maintains a professional staff with expertise in and knowledge of development co-operation issues. DG Hellenic Aid therefore needs to identify ways to ensure a more strategic human resources management.


To improve development co-operation capacity and expertise despite DG Hellenic Aid’s constrained context, Greece should:

  • Promote development co-operation as a career path, and allow staff with an interest and competence in development to have longer-term assignments at DG Hellenic Aid and be posted to embassies in priority countries which are implementing projects and programmes.
  • Invest in regular staff training on key aspects of managing development co-operation, in line with international best practice. Use training already provided by other donors, organise exchanges of staff with line ministries and other donors and use outside expertise (i.e. from civil society) where possible.
  • Recruit staff to DG Hellenic Aid based on clear development competencies and specific job descriptions.

The MFA and DG Hellenic Aid need to manage human resources more strategically, build a cadre of development professionals and create a culture of staff performance evaluation. The constraints of the general civil service structure and diplomatic careers make it difficult – but not impossible – to attract, create and retain tailored expertise in development co-operation in DG Hellenic Aid. The DG should define job descriptions and staffing requirements to guide and influence the MFA’s personnel decisions at headquarters and in priority country embassies. This will ensure that staff with development co-operation expertise remain in the development system for as long as possible. In-house training should be organised, and wherever possible partnerships for exchanging knowledge and expertise should be sought outside DG Hellenic Aid – with line ministries, civil society or other donors.


More effective aid and achieving results


Delivering more aid according to aid effectiveness principles

Key findings:

Greece faces challenges in implementing its commitments to delivering more effective aid as it lacks a co-ordinated and systematic approach to the implementation of its international commitments. However, there is scope for learning from successful initiatives, such as the Mediterranean component of the EU Water Initiative.


To deliver on its commitments to deliver aid following the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action, Greece should:

  • Use the five-year programme as the basis for implementing the Paris and Accra principles and collaborate with line ministries in identifying common objectives and for monitoring progress.
  • Employ a range of different ways to implement activities, including programme-based approaches and co-ordinated arrangements with other donors.
  • Promote a culture of results orientation by planning, implementing and monitoring for results.
  • Formulate priority country strategies in consultation with partner countries and other donors to foster ownership and alignment. .

Staff from across the administration seem to be aware of Greece’s commitment to make aid more effective, but there is no strategic approach to allow all actors to implement these commitments. The changes proposed in the draft law, presidential decree and five-year programme are underpinned by the aid effectiveness principles of ownership, alignment, harmonisation, results and mutual accountability. The sooner Greece approves the new institutional and strategic framework, the sooner it can start in earnest to implement the Paris and Accra commitments. Clear guidance is needed on how to formulate country strategies in a way that achieves partner country ownership, donor harmonisation through consultation, and alignment through implementation.


Greece has made efforts since the last peer review to make its aid more effective by contributing to pooled funds and trust funds and through silent partnerships. Its role as the lead country for the Mediterranean Component of the European Water Initiative (MED EUWI) shows that Greece is capable of supporting long-term comprehensive programmes which build institutional capacities in line with international good practice and which use a small aid budget to catalyse development. It is also positive that article 6 of the draft law states that bilateral co operation can be provided as budget support, through co-financing or delegated co operation. Greece should systematically look for opportunities for working with other donors in delivering its development aid, especially given the limitations of its own human and financial resources..


 Good practice: Greece’s lead role in MED EUWI

The Mediterranean component of the EU Water Initiative (MED EUWI) aims to help developing countries to meet the water-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg) targets. The Government of Greece (Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) has taken the lead in MED EUWI since it was launched in 2003. MED EUWI has several strengths and is achieving results. This programme offers a good model of how Greece can contribute to the MDGs and provide development co operation in line with good practice for effective aid through:

  • Comparative advantage: Greece adds value to its small budgetary contribution (EUR 100 000 per year with additional project financing from DG Hellenic Aid’s budget) by providing demand-driven, relevant technical expertise in the Mediterranean region. Political support for this co operation is easily won and sustained in Greece because good water management is a shared concern for all Mediterranean countries. However, DG Hellenic Aid should include project financing related to MED EUWI in the overall programme rather than processing project proposals through the annual call for proposals.
  • Predictability: Greece has been committed to MED EUWI over the long-term (since 2003 and is involved in activities running up to 2017 (e.g. Egypt’s National Water Resources Plan 2017).
  • Mutual accountability: For example, Greece’s contribution to the MED EUWI Egypt Dialogue is included in a protocol signed by Greece and Egypt during the Bilateral Ministerial Committee on Economic and Technical Co operation in 2006 .



Towards better humanitarian donorship

Ensuring a strategic and widely-owned humanitarian framework

Key findings:

Greece does not yet have an overall clear definition of its humanitarian goals; however, it is developing a new humanitarian framework. This provides a much-needed opportunity to narrow and deepen Greece’s humanitarian strategy, and back it up with an effective law that will support constructive humanitarian programming into the future.


To promote more coherent and strategic programming, Greece should finalise its legal framework and cross-government strategic plan for humanitarian assistance. This will also require:

  • Stronger links with overall Greek development priorities and a better reflection of Greece’s comparative advantage.
  • Continued formal legal recognition of the Good Humanitarian Donorship principles.
  • Coherence with Greek development programmes, country strategies and operations.


Greece is currently mapping out its future strategic focus in a new humanitarian framework. It should use this opportunity to narrow and deepen its humanitarian portfolio, ensure compliance with the Principles of Good Humanitarian Donorship, and provide humanitarian assistance in ways that support recovery and longer-term development. Wide participation of partners and cross-government consultation will be critical in ensuring that the new humanitarian framework is realistic, inclusive and widely owned.


Making systems, procedures and partnerships fit for purpose

Key findings:

Greece’s systems, operational capacity and partnership processes need to be streamlined and updated if they are to support properly strategic humanitarian programming. 


Streamline procedures for working with NGOs and other donors, develop strategic partnerships with key operational actors, and deliver more flexible and predictable funding.

  • Develop a coherent and transparent system for monitoring programme results and learning lessons.
  • Outline clear criteria and guidelines for Greek in-kind aid.


Greece will need to strengthen its partnerships with key multilateral organisations and NGOs as it rolls out its new humanitarian framework. Future partnerships and funding should be more predictable and flexible. Streamlining funding procedures for NGO partners remains an important priority. Speeding up the approval process for emergency fundraising campaigns by Greek NGOs will boost their ability to collect and use funds from the public.

Greece intends to make a sizeable contribution to humanitarian programming under its draft legislation, and it will be critical to demonstrate clear results to the Greek taxpayer on the use of these funds. Greece recognises that its accountability procedures for humanitarian assistance are cumbersome, especially for NGOs, and need to be significantly streamlined.


In-kind aid has been the most common Greek response to sudden-onset emergencies, and Greece must now determine what role this type of aid will play in its future programme. In doing so, Greece should ensure that good practice on in-kind aid is followed.


The new cross-government co-ordination mechanism for in-kind aid could serve as a useful model for wider co-ordination on humanitarian issues. Existing civil-military co-ordination structures seem to work well.


If embassy staff are to support the new humanitarian strategy, they will need to be sufficiently trained and equipped to perform their role effectively.



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