Asia is affirming itself as a newcomer and strong donor of aid to developing countries. China has been in the spotlight, but also countries such as India or South Korea have been stepping up their efforts at international development cooperation. These new actors, albeit with diverse approaches, challenge Europe’s global weight
and leadership role and are driving it to rethink its development aid policies.
Europe has developed a highly complex system of disbursing aid to developing countries attaching it to criteria of macro-economic performance and good governance. The principle of ownership as set by the Paris Declaration (2005) affirms that “partner countries exercise effective leadership over their development policies, and
strategies and co-ordinate development actions”. European countries have promoted it as a cornerstone principle for aid effectiveness, claiming to give aid recipients the capacity to decide their policies autonomously, in contrast to previous policies of conditionality in aid.
Yet, the praxis is far from matching the discourse, as Europe seeks to be deeply involved in the policy process of aid recipients. Asian donors, on the other hand, tend to be less concerned with the normative discourse or with the
policy process of aid recipients and more focused on mutual economic gains of the relationship. In this scenario ownership takes on a different frame. This paper explores how Europe is reacting to this new context and to what extent it is adjusting its development aid policies.