Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

May 2017
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EDITO
Friday, 26 May 2017
A report by a WTO panel published today confirms that the EU system of protection of geographical indications for agricultural products complies with WTO rules. Geographical indications provide protection for products identified with a particular geographical location, for example Roquefort or Prosciutto di Parma. Rejecting the arguments of the United States and Australia, the WTO ruled that the EU’s system for protecting these names is essentially compatible with WTO rules, including the requirements of the TRIPs Agreement. The WTO confirmed in particular that Geographical Indications can coexist with prior trademarks. The ruling confirms the rights of the holders of Europe’s approximately 700 Geographical Indications.
The protection of geographical indications is an integral part of the EU’s quality policy, while the EU is at the forefront of efforts to strengthen the protection of GIs internationally. This responds to consumer demand for quality products, and at the same time promotes the development of rural communities and specialized agricultural products. The Panel upholds an important element of the EU system, which is the requirement for inspection structures to verify that the conditions for each GI are fulfilled in order to benefit from the high level of protection against unlawful use.

In addition, the EU has repeatedly sought to dispel charges that its system discriminates against GIs relating to geographical areas in third countries in violation of the WTO national treatment rules. In fact, the EU system is open also to applications for registration of GIs from third countries. The panel report asks the EU to clarify the rules in this respect, to allow producer groups from third countries to apply directly rather than having to go through their governments.
This is an explored issue by the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries which should be protecting more their local resources and property rights.
Wednesday, 16 March 2005
The European Commission has today adopted a European Charter for Researchers and a Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers.
700.000 additional researchers are deemed necessary to attain the objective of 3% of EU GDP for R&D and at the same time replace the ageing workforce in research. Although the number of researchers in the EU rose slightly from 5.4 per 1000 workforce in 1999 to 5.7 in 2001, this is well below the level in other countries that invest more (USA 8.1; Japan 9.1).

The potential shortage of researchers could pose a serious threat to the EU’s innovation, knowledge and productivity in the near future and may hamper the attainment of the Lisbon and Barcelona objectives. Consequently, Europe must improve its attractiveness to researchers and increase the participation of women researchers. It must provide researchers with long term career prospects by improving their employment and working conditions, reinforcing R&D as a professions and creating more favourable conditions for mobility within a given research career path.The Charter and the Code of Conduct contribute to this objective by addressing Member States, employers, funding organisations and researchers at all career stages. They cover all fields of research in the public and private sectors, irrespective of the nature of the appointment or employment, the legal status of the employer or the type of organisation or establishment in which the work is carried out. The European Charter for Researchers addresses the roles, responsibilities and entitlements of researchers and their employers or funding organisations. It aims at ensuring that the relationship between these parties contributes to successful performance in the generation, transfer and sharing of knowledge, and to the career development of researchers.

EU Member States spent nearly 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development (R&D) in the years leading up to 2002, according to the latest Eurostat figures. Nordic countries led the pack but many new Member States are showing signs of strong growth.

The problem faced at the EU level can be felt much more critically by the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions which suffer from lack of funding to the research and heavy brain drain.
Tuesday, 15 March 2005
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a 50 million financing facility for Nigerian small & medium sized enterprises with five local banks. The EIB, the European Union’s long-term lending institution, provides support to the Nigerian private sector through the implementation of this Global Loan available under the Cotonou Agreement’s Investment Facility (IF). The IF focuses on the private sector and so has the objective to improve access of companies to term finance and reinforce the financial sector in the ACP countries. Global loan credit lines strengthen the ability of banks to finance investment projects by providing funding that would otherwise not be available for the targeted investment projects. The intermediary banks and institutions act independently and use their own decision making criteria and pricing in allocating the funds to individual entrepreneurs.
Under the Nigeria SME Facility the five selected partner banks can access refinancing for eligible projects. The objective is to provide access to stable long-term finance in both EUR and USD for the five banks in order to promote investment activities in Nigeria. Each of the banks continues to bear the credit risk associated with the projects. Final beneficiaries of the Global Loan will be small and medium sized companies in the productive and human capital sectors with foreign currency and/or export-oriented activities. This operation is the first Global Loan operation in Nigeria since 2001 and comes at a time when steps to diversify the economy, privatise public enterprises, and reduce the State’s involvement in the economy have improved the environment for private economic activities.

The Investment Facility focuses on the private sector and so has the objective to improve access of companies to term finance and reinforce the financial sector in the ACP countries. Global loan credit lines strengthen the ability of banks to finance investment projects by providing funding that would otherwise not be available for the targeted investment projects. The intermediary banks and institutions act independently and use their own decision making criteria and pricing in allocating the funds to individual entrepreneurs.
Monday, 14 March 2005
The European Commission welcomes the Commission for Africa’s emphasis on the role that trade can play as a driver of growth for Africa’s development. The EU, which is already a main importer from Africa is also the main provider of Trade Related Assistance (50 per cent of total TRA is provided by the EC and Member States) and supports additional, targetted funding to help poor countries in Africa develop that capacity. The EU “Everything But Arms” scheme fully opens the EU market to least developed countries. The Commission is also committed to use the ongoing negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements with four African regions to help Africa integrate into the global economy. The core rationale of the process is to contribute to development and growth.

The Commission for Africa was created in February 2004 at the initiative of Prime Minister Tony Blair, and comprises 17 members, nine of whom are from Africa.
“The General Report on the activities of the European Union 2004” gives an overview of the Union’s main achievements in 2004. It gives an overview which highlights key events and trends and shows how the institutions have gone about achieving the main political objectives of the Union. For specialised readers, a separate volume provides the rest of the detailed information on a sector-by-sector basis. Some points interesting our ACP audience are:

1. Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

- A new action plan was drawn up to help developing countries reduce their dependency on agricultural commodities, improve their export performance and reduce their vulnerability to price fluctuations. The EU will adopt a strategy to support the cotton sector in Africa aimed at obtaining fairer trade conditions on international cotton markets and making the cotton sector in African countries more competitive (see frollowing news on the cotton sector an CTA support).
- Over 1.1 billion people worldwide have no access to safe drinking water and about 2.4 billion people lack adequate sanitation. In response to this situation, the EU approved the creation of a new European water facility to improve access to water and sanitation for people in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. EUR 500 million from the reserve of the ninth EDF has been earmarked for this initiative.
- The Commission proposed an innovative approach to tackling the problem of illegal logging and the related trade in illegally harvested timber. It involves promoting good management through voluntary partnerships with timber-producing countries and setting up a legally binding licensing scheme with partner countries to ensure that only legal timber from these countries is allowed into the EU.

2. Relations with third countries and regional groupings


- Concerning relations with the 78 countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific region (ACP), implementation of the Cotonou agreement, which entered into force in 2003, is now up to speed. Mozambique’s accession to the protocol on ACP sugar was approved, but a similar request by Burkina Faso was rejected. The Council adopted negotiating directives for the five-year review of the Cotonou agreement, which was signed in 2000.
- On trade relations, negotiations were opened with all ACP regions with a view to concluding economic partnership agreements to replace the trade provisions of the Cotonou agreement as from 2008.
- On the institutional front, the 10 new EU Member States went straight into action: within just a few days of enlargement, their representatives took part in the annual meeting of the ACP–EC Council of Ministers. The Commission held its first joint meeting with its African Union counterpart, created in 2003.
- On the bilateral front, the possibility of suspending application of certain elements of the Cotonou agreement following consultations with partner countries, as provided for in Article 96 of the agreement in the event of infringements against human rights, democratic principles or the rule of law, was invoked against certain ACP countries, notably Zimbabwe and Côte d’Ivoire. The suspension was lifted, however, in the case of Guinea-Bissau, as the Union wanted to normalise relations in view of the positive measures taken by the government. Relations are also in the process of being normalised with Haiti.