Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

May 2018
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Friday, 25 May 2018
The Management Committee for Bananas gave a favourable opinion on a European Commission proposal to open a duty-free tariff quota of 615,000 tonnes for ACP countries for the period March-December 2006. The proposal will now be put for formal approval to the Commission. Under the new rules, from March to December 2006, 468,150 tonnes will be made available on a "first come, first served" basis in five tranches of 93,630 tonnes each. The tranches will be made available every two months. The remaining 146,850 tonnes of the tariff quota will be reserved for operators who actually imported bananas from ACP countries in 2005. The licences for these operators will be proportional to the quantities they imported from ACP countries in 2005. On 29 November 2005, the EU adopted a new "tariff-only" import regime for bananas from countries enjoying Most Favoured Nation status, applying from 1 January 2006. The regime also includes a duty-free annual import quota of 775,000 tonnes for bananas originating in ACP countries. To avoid disruption of trade with ACP countries before the adoption of the tariff quota for these countries, the Commission adopted in December interim measures for January and February 2006. An overall amount of 160,000 tonnes has already been made available for this period. The tariff quota proposed today (615,000 tonnes) covers the rest of 2006.
In 2005 the European Commission has acted with record speed and efficiency to implement programmes so that the money reaches those who need it. The results show the value of reforms introduced in 2001 to improve the way in which the Commission’s aid to third countries is spent. In 2005 €6.2 billion in development aid was disbursed, up from €5.7 billion the year before. Thanks to the reforms, the Commission is processing money pledged more effectively both in its own internal procedures and in the implementation of programmes themselves. A comparison between 2001 and 2005 shows commitments up by 54% and payments up by 52%.
The Commissioner responsible for EuropeAid, External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, commented, ‘2005 has been a record year in terms of delivery of EU aid. Last year’s results show the crucial role that the European Commission is playing in the fight to eradicate poverty and to promote peace, human rights and sustainable development throughout the world. We are an increasingly efficient and reliable development partner across the world. Our response to natural disasters like the tsunami, and the Pakistan earthquake is internationally recognised. We are making an essential contribution to building a more stable future for Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian Territories – and helping our near neighbourhood to develop better governance and more prosperous economies”.
Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, expressed satisfaction with this improvement: “This is the highest level ever of payments benefiting the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. It represents the concrete support to our commitments to poverty reduction in Africa. But we must and we can do more and better. In 2006 we will have to deliver on our promises to increase aid, to improve coordination among European donors and to focus on Africa.”.
What has changed since 2001 when the Commission undertook an ambitious reform of its external assistance?

Assistance is delivered faster and more efficiently ...
Commitments are up by 54%, and payments by 52%. This means that the Commission is getting better at translating promises into action. Procedures have been streamlined so that best practice in ensuring fairness and transparency can be combined with greater speed. The result is swifter payment for projects and programmes.
The average project cycle is shorter (identification of needs and necessary actions, implementation of the project or programme concerned, and completion) and has decreased from 4.7 to 3.3 years.
A number of quality indicators has been established to allow the impact and efficiency of our assistance to be measured including speed of implementation, programme performance, organisational aspects. Quality checks are carried out more widely so that in 2005 1250 projects were visited, nearly three times as many as in 2001.
... and it is managed closer to the beneficiaries.
In 2001 all the Commission’s aid was managed from Brussels. Since the reforms, 77 Commission delegation offices are now managing external assistance programmes on the ground, in closer co operation with countries concerned, improving both the implementation of projects and the efficient management of finances.

The EU (Commission and Member States) is the biggest donor providing 55% of the world's development assistance. In 2005, one fifth of this was managed by the European Commission (around €7 billion a year), making it the third individual biggest donor. EU assistance goes to more than 160 countries, territories and organisations and focuses on the global challenges of the 21st century: tackling poverty, promoting democracy and security, social equity, economic prosperity, and environmental sustainability.
EuropeAid, in Brussels, is the Commission organisation responsible for the implementation of assistance, its role is key in transforming political commitments into concrete results in the fight to eradicate poverty and to promote peace, human rights and sustainable development throughout the world.
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.