Spanish aid policy is changing: official development assistance (ODA) doubled between 2004 and 2008 reaching almost €5 billion annually (ODA/GDP 0.45 percent). At the same time ODA disbursements to United Nations organisations increased 23 times and the Spanish-UNDP Fund was set up to move Millennium Goals forward with €528 million.
The Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECID) is now a state agency with more autonomy and a Managerial Contract with measurable objectives, some of them related to aid effectiveness. Moreover, despite the economic crisis, spending on ODA increased slightly in 2009-10, although the Spanish government has announced aid cuts for 2011. What factors explain these changes? Was it just a new foreign policy when the Socialist party won the election in 2004? Was there an agreement within the government to develop a new aid policy? Are factors of change still impacting on aid improvements or have they diminished or even vanished?
This paper tries to answer these and other relevant questions, such as how Spanish aid policy is likely to evolve over the coming years, what changes must Spain carry out to approach or even draw level with the more advanced donors and which lessons might be relevant to other aid donors, especially to the bilateral newcomers and emerging donors. After a brief reflection on aid effectiveness, the paper analyses the politics of aid in Spain, the changes that have improved Spanish aid effectiveness in recent years and the main dilemmas and challenges which are still waiting to be resolved. It focuses on traditionally selected areas of assessment in development policy and goes beyond, taking into account the political economy of aid, analysing its actors and their different interests.