An international development charter for the UK’s exit from the EU

14 March 2017

We lay out six key principles to get the best deal for the world’s poorest people from the UK’s departure from the EU. 

The UK has a well-earned reputation for being a global champion of a robust and ambitious international development and humanitarian agenda. It is has been one of the world’s top donors for both quantity and quality of aid. Continuing to play a leading role in development and aid throughout the Brexit process and beyond is vital for achieving the government’s vision of a "Global Britain" and for ensuring that we do not lose the battle on tackling global challenges, like poverty, inequality, climate change, humanitarian emergencies and refugee crises.  

The Government will trigger Article 50 imminently, signalling the start of the UK's exit from the European Union. Based on research into Bond members’ views, we put forward six key principles that we hope will guide and inform, at this critical juncture, the Government’s upcoming negotiations with the EU and member states. 

  1. Make Brexit work for the world’s poorest
    A Global Britain must be a country set on consolidating and strengthening its leadership on the global stage. The UK’s commitment to contribute 0.7% of GNI to official development assistance (ODA) should be proudly defended as a cornerstone of the UK’s leadership in international development.  Equal to this, the UK’s future trade, aid and agricultural 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.
  2. Ensure low-income countries are not disadvantaged by new trade arrangements
    The UK should offer a non-reciprocal preference scheme to allow imports from economically vulnerable countries to enter the UK tax free, and make sure free trade agreements with wealthier countries don’t undermine developing country competitors. We also call for the UK to ensure that UK trade and investment policies are compatible with international commitments on the environment, climate change, human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals, and that future trade negotiations are open, transparent and fully accountable to Parliament. Any trade facilitation initiatives delivered as part of DFID’s Economic Development Strategy must prioritise enabling poor and marginalised people and SMEs in developing countries to increase their share of trade.
  3. Allow EU citizens working for INGOs to continue to do so 
    INGOs proudly hire talent from around the world, with the best experience and capacity to tackle the hardest challenges we face. Many of our organisations based in the UK employ EU citizens, who should be allowed to continue working uninterrupted. Global INGOs are also a major employer of UK citizens supporting the active engagement of UK communities with peoples around the globe. Exit from the EU should not prevent our most global sector from continuing to hire the best at home and abroad. INGOS with European affiliates should continue to be able to circulate our talent so that we can solve the most intractable issues of poverty most effectively. 
  4. Cooperate closely with the EU on aid and development
    The Government should take forward a constructive approach that values coherence and cooperation to the UK’s longer-term partnership with its European neighbours. Seeking agreement to continue to cooperate and coordinate with the EU in the field of international development will not only provide good value for money, but will be crucial if we are to fulfil our global commitments. For example, continuing to financially contribute to selected EU development and humanitarian programmes and structures that add clear value to the UK’s international development programme, serves to amplify the UK’s global influence and reach. 
  5. Give UK civil society organisations a voice in negotiations 
    The Government should seek every opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with UK civil society organisations (CSOs) during the negotiations with a view to securing the best deal for the sector. This should ensure that UK CSOs and particularly the communities and partners they work with in the global south are not financially, operationally or politically disadvantaged by the UK’s exit from the EU. 
  6. Transfer and transpose international commitments negotiated through the EU
    The UK Government should recommit to international development and mixed partnership agreements that were concluded by the EU on behalf of the UK with different developing countries, such as the Food Assistance Convention. In doing so, the UK should commit to meeting, as a minimum, the level of ambition in the joint EU position. The government should also commit to underwriting current EU grants to UK NGOs that continue beyond the UK’s exit from the EU.

Get the latest views on Brexit for international development on our Brexit hub.