Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

April 2018
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EDITO
Monday, 23 April 2018
Commissioner Louis Michel this week launched the programming cycle for Aid to Development under the 10th EDF (European Development Fund) during the first Regional Seminar in Brazzaville and in which countries from Central Africa participated. Based on Commission proposals, the programming exercise will constitute the first concrete step towards the implementation of the EU commitments taken in 2005, in particular the improvement of co-ordination and aid effectiveness, increase in aid allocations and a focus on Africa.
Kicking off this first seminar, which focussed on Central Africa, Louis Michel stated: “Today Europe, more than ever, emphasises partnership as the key to action. We are launching this political dialogue between partners who share this vision – country by country, region by region. We will listen attentively to the priorities which have been communicated to us in terms of action for development. At the same time, we expect from our partners a concrete commitment for good governance”.
The Regional Seminar on Programming which took place in Brazzaville on 30 and 31 January brought together the highest officials responsible for co-operation with Europe from the regional and countries of Central Africa: Congo-Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Burundi, Rwanda, Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tomé and Principe, ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States) and EMCCA (Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa).
In December 2005, the European Council adopted a financial envelope for the 10th EDF which comes to €22.7billion for the period 2008–2013. The 9th EDF which covered the period 2003–2007 had been allocated the sum of €13.5 billion.
This Seminar is the first of six, organised up to April of this year, designed to cover all of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific countries. The Regional Seminars will launch the new approach in European policy toward development aid and, for the four African Regions, the Strategy for Africa approved at the end of 2005. Commissioner Michel will attend these seminars and will meet with representatives of the countries and regions concerned.
Good performance and respect for the commitments taken – especially with regard to good governance, sound management of public funds and efficient administration – are key factors for the increase in aid allocations towards each country.
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Sunday, 05 February 2006
Members of the European Parliament want EU Member States to coordinate their positions better within the International Monetary Fund. And the IMF, currently undergoing internal reforms, should contribute more to the Millennium Development Goals. These were the main points of a draft resolution adopted on Tuesday 31 January by the Economic Affairs Committee.

The subject of the committee's report - drawn up by Benoît Hamon (PES, FR) and adopted unanimously - was the strategic review of the International Monetary Fund.

Mr Hamon proposed that the EU should have a single seat on the IMF, to be occupied jointly by the presidency of the Ecofin Council and the European Commission under the supervision of the European Parliament. However, a majority of committee members voted instead in favour of ensuring "that the eurozone or if possible the European Community is represented and votes as a single block", thus taking up an idea proposed by Jean-Louis Bourlanges (ALDE, FR), who drafted the opinion of Parliament's International Trade Committee.
If the European Union became a member of the IMF it would hold 31.92% of the voting rights, putting it ahead of the United States, which is still the main "shareholder" of the Fund with 17.11%. MEPs also urge the IMF to review the distribution of quotas and voting rights to reflect the current world economy better and give more weight to the economies of emerging and developing countries.
The committee proposes greater coordination between the IMF and the World Bank to promote development issues and the achievement of the Millennium Goals.
Turning to the liberalisation of the financial systems of borrowing countries, Members of the Economic Affairs Committee urged that this be "gradual, sequential and stable" but also "adjusted to take account of their institutional capacities, thus permitting the effective regulation and management of capital movements". Similarly, the opening up of the markets of low-income countries should not take place outside the framework of the World Trade Organisation's Development Round, so that these countries can conduct the negotiations themselves and choose the degree to which they open up their markets.
In fact, the committee adds that indebted countries should not have to open up their markets fully to foreign imports. There must be "protection for certain industries for a limited period so as to permit a steady development to take hold in the industrial sector".

MEPs welcome "the desire to improve the levels of education and health in developing countries" and they stress that "increasing public expenditure remains the surest way to reduce inequality of access" to health and education.
Lastly, the committee suggests that the IMF set up policies designed to prevent new debt crises and it welcomes the decision to extend the HIDC (Highly Indebted Countries) initiative.
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Thursday, 02 February 2006
The European Commission today adopted a White Paper on a European Communication Policy. Vice-President of the Commission, Margot Wallstrom, said: “Communication is first and foremost a matter of democracy. People have a right to know what the EU does and what it stands for. And they have a right to fully participate in the European project. Communicating Europe is not just a Brussels affair. EU institutions and Member States must now work on it together. The European Union has grown up as a political project but has not found a place in people’s hearts and minds. The White Paper is the Commission’s proposal to respond to this challenge and to lay the foundation of a European Union Communication Policy”.
The White Paper follows the publication of the Commission Action Plan on Communication, adopted in July 2005, which outlined the steps that the Commission would take to reform its own communication activities, to get closer to citizens and to be more responsive to their concerns.
The main purpose of the White Paper is to mobilise all the key actors (EU institutions and bodies, the Member States, regional and local authorities, political parties and civil society). It will be crucial in raising awareness and creating commitment.
The White Paper proposes five areas where joint action should be taken;
- defining common principles for communication on European issues;
- empowering citizens;
- working with the media and new technologies;
understanding public opinion;
- doing the job together.
The consultation period will run for six months. At the end of this period, the Commission will summarise the replies and draw conclusions with a view to proposing plans of action for each working area.
The road towards having European programmes operational on January 1st 2007
Increased flexibility in future budgets in order to better react to a rapidly changing world (almost 5 bln EUR over the 2007-13 period); establishing basic rules for the new European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EUR 3,5 bln); a comprehensive review of the EU budget in 2008/9 – these are major new elements in the Commission proposal for a renewed Inter-Institutional Agreement (IIA). "With this proposal the way is now cleared for a constructive negotiation between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission", commented Commission President José Manuel Barroso. “We need to have an agreement by April. Everyone understands very well that otherwise the execution of many EU programmes will be problematic as from 1st of January 2007. We have to act fast while being prudent, responsible and realistic. The credibility and effectiveness of the enlarged Union is at stake” added Dalia Grybauskaite, EU Commissioner for Financial programming and Budget.

After the agreement reached by the Member States in the European Council last December, several important steps still need to be taken regarding a final agreement of the three EU institutions on the Financial Perspectives for the period 2007-13. The negotiations should be finalised swiftly to ensure that European programmes are ready to benefit European citizens as from the first day of 2007. The Commission today is proposing to the Council and the European Parliament a base for advancing negotiations in the form of a proposal for an Inter-Institutional Agreement on budgetary discipline and improvement of budgetary procedure. After a final agreement is reached on this text, all legislative instruments relating to the various policy areas and programmes will have to be revised to reflect the result of the negotiation and adopted by Council and Parliament. The Commission will then have to move fast to ensure the actual programming of actions. This is a challenge for all three institutions, which they need to tackle jointly and urgently.

A new Inter-Institutional Agreement (IIA)
The Inter-Institutional Agreement (IIA) establishes rules and mechanisms for the management of the financial framework over a 7 year period and for the setting up of annual budgets. It has to be agreed by the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission. Without this agreement financing will not be available for the programmes proposed for the enlarged Union and execution of up to half of the EU budget might be jeopardised.
The Commission’s proposal contains important elements which form part of the Inter-Institutional Agreement to be negotiated:
The Commission wants to ensure sufficient flexibility in the future budgets. Today, the flexibility instrument is limited to EUR 200 million a year and is in practice used almost exclusively in the area of external actions. In line with the European Council conclusions (paragraph 7) the Commission proposes today to increase the amount of the flexibility instrument up to EUR 700 million a year and to give it a broader scope, covering not only annual unexpected needs but also new multi-annual requirements. Flexibility is an essential corollary to financial discipline, all the more so when expenditure ceilings are tight.
The proposed IIA also includes the basic rules of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. This initiative was put forward by the President Barroso before Hampton Court summit and has been endorsed by the European Council (paragraph 12 of the December conclusions). Europe indeed needs to ensure that citizens fully benefit from the opportunities provided by today’s global economy. It also needs to have the means to support those workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns, to assist them with their re-training and job search efforts. The Commission will shortly provide a full legislative proposal detailing the functioning of this fund.
Finally, there is widespread agreement on the need to ensure a comprehensive review of our budget, how it is established and how it is spent. The Commission’s proposal has been endorsed by the European Council (paragraph 80 of the conclusions) and is therefore reflected in the proposed IIA. This exercise constitutes a high priority for this Commission. It will be the fruit of detailed preparation and wide consultation in which European Parliament should be deeply involved. In 2008/2009, the Commission will present to the European Parliament and to the Council a comprehensive White Paper, covering the whole structure of the budget, expenditure and revenue sides.
In 1999, when the Agenda 2000 was negotiated, it took less than two months to reach an Inter-Institutional Agreement with Parliament after the Berlin European Council. It is crucial to do equally well this time around. The Commission considers that this first step must be concluded by April to allow sufficient time to prepare programmes for January 2007.
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The European Commission grants a further €38 million for the ECOFAC programme for the conservation and sustainable management of Central Africa’s forests
With its new EUR 38 million ECOFAC IV programme, the European Commission is stepping up its funding for the conservation of Central Africa’s wet tropical forests. The aim is guarantee the long-term conservation and sustainable management of natural resources in seven Central African countries: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe. The return to the programme of the DRC, which accounts for half of the region’s woodlands, means that the programme will now cover 180 000 km2 of tropical forest and savannah ecosystems.
The region has the planet’s second largest tropical forest system after Amazonia. This new stage in the ECOFAC programme (Ecosystèmes Forestiers d’Afrique Centrale/Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa) links conservation efforts to development and poverty reduction. The conservation of these forests is crucial to the development of 65 million people.
The needs of local people, who are heavily dependent on the forest’s resources, are a major consideration in the programme. There has been considerable investment in researching ways and means of reconciling human development and conservation through complementary projects (microprojects and rural development).

The ECOFAC programme was launched in 1992, in the wake of the Earth Summit in Rio, to contribute to the conservation and rational use of forest ecosystems and biodiversity in Central Africa. Six countries were initially involved: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe. The first three stages saw the commitment of more than EUR 70 million from the 6th, 7th and 8th European Development Funds (EDFs).
ECOFAC IV is the EU’s biggest contribution to the implementation of the convergence plan drawn up by the member countries of COMIFAC (Commission des Ministres des Forêts d’Afrique Centrale/Central African Forests Commission) and a major boost for the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), set up by donors and NGOs at 2002’s World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
ECOFAC IV also includes a contribution to the EU’s action plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). This commitment reflects the EU’s determination to work with timber-producing countries to tackle deforestation and curb illegal trade in timber.
One of the programme’s key strengths is its regional approach, as attested by the assistance for the establishment of RAPAC (Réseau des aires protégées d’Afrique Centrale/Network of Central African Protected Zones), a network intended to enable other protected zones in the subregion to draw on ECOFAC’s experience.
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