Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

January 2018
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Thursday, 18 January 2018
If approved, the plan will allow ACP countries to maintain EU imports at current levels.
The European Union has asked the World Trade Organisation for authorisation to continue preferential arrangements for banana imports from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to the end of 2007.
The move is intended to ensure that ACP nations can export the same amount of bananas to the EU when, as planned, Brussels introduces a new tariff-only system for Latin American bananas on January 1 2006.
However, the proposed waiver from WTO rules, which comes up for discussion next month, is likely to face opposition from Latin American producers locked in battle with the EU over the tariff rates to be applied.
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The Commission is launching a public consultation on risk assessment methods for nanotechnologies. Nanotechnology involves the controlled production of new materials which have one or more dimensions thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Industry is increasingly using nanotechnology for a wide variety of sectors, including healthcare, consumer products, information technology and the environment. The online consultation, which will run until 16th December 2005, aims to gather feedback on the appropriateness of current risk assessment methods for nanotechnology products and how they can be improved.
Through the online consultation, stakeholders are invited to comment on the opinion recently adopted by the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR). This opinion looks at the limitations of current risk assessment methods in addressing the specific characteristics of the products on nanotechnologies and where improvements could be made. Although the focus is very much on the methods of risk assessment, rather than the actual risks of nanotechnologies, SCENIHR also carefully considered health and environmental factors that would need to be taken into account.
Nanotechnologies are considered to offer benefits which could improve the quality of life of European citizens, and the Commission aims to prevent shortcomings in risk assessment methods which would hamper new developments and innovation in this field. However, the priority for the Commission is to ensure a high level of consumer safety in relation to nanotechnologies, and the opinion therefore underlines the need to have sound and reliable risk assessment methods, suitable for routine use. This in turn would foster greater consumer confidence in the new technologies.
The Commission gave high priority to research and development on nanotechnology in its Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, in recognition of the huge potential of nanotechnology and its contribution to European competitiveness. An even higher profile has been proposed for this technology under the Seventh Framework Programme. On 7th June 2005, the Commission adopted an Action Plan for nanosciences and nanotechnology for Europe 2005-2009. The Action Plan recognises the need for a safe, integrated and responsible approach to the development of nanotechnologies, for which appropriate risk assessment methods are key.
Two visiting European parliamentarians have thrown their weight behind African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in light of the European Unions (EU)'s proposed reform of its sugar policy.
This includes slowing down the pace of implementation of a 39 per cent cut for ACP sugar prices over the next three years.British Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Glenys Kinnock and German MEP Michael Gahler are in Jamaica as visiting representatives of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and were speaking at a dinner held in their honour by executive chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA), Derick Heaven.Mrs. Kinnock is co-president of the assembly together with Member of Parliament for South Central St. Catherine, Sharon Hay-Webster, who is hosting their visit.

Brutal approach
She said the change in support for ACP sugar was "... an extremely brutal approach by the European Union and not in line with Europe's commitment to building peace and security in the world." She added that the ACP countries concerned should instead be supported by the EU for their democracies, human rights records and support for trade unions. Mrs. Kinnock said compensation of 40 million euros for the ACP countries was of "... no substance and neither does it have at this time any budgetary position." She said the sum was 'ludicrous', noting that Mauritius alone had applied for 65 million euros. She acknowledged that there was a blocking majority in the European Parliament against increased compensation, and her own proposal of 80 million euros was refused.
Mrs. Kinnock charged that ACP countries were being further disadvantaged against the European sugar beet farmers who are to be compensated by 1.542 billion Euros per year, and the European overseas territories Martinique and Guadeloupe are being compensated along European lines. She said these two countries would have an unfair advantage within the Caribbean.
Mr. Gahler told The Gleaner he endorsed what Mrs. Kinnock said about compensation as, "The cuts, if implemented with the current level of compensation, will have an extremely negative impact." He said, however, that the trip would strengthen the ACP sugar lobby within the European Parliament.
"I am going to write to all of the agriculture ministers ahead of their November 5 meeting," Mr. Gahler said. "Should they go ahead as planned then nobody can pretend they were not told."
Sugar reform is to be debated in the European Parliament in January.
Friday, 21 October 2005
Small loans known as "micro-credits" are an effective tool for fighting poverty and empowering women. This was the key message of a hearing organised by four European Parliament committees on 11 October to mark International Year of Micro-Credit 2005.
The term micro-credit is used to describe a small amount of money lent to a low-income client by a bank or other institution. And micro-credits can be particularly important for women: in a world where most poor people are women, studies have shown that access to such loans can improve the status of women within the family and the community. Women become more assertive and confident, they come to own assets, including land and housing, play a stronger role in decision-making and take on leadership roles in their communities.
Most contributors in the afternoon session were women who spoke about the role of micro-credits in various parts of the world such as Latin America, Africa, Afghanistan and Asia.
Brigit HELMS, of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, described the development of micro-finance over the last thirty years. "From being a marginal phenomenon, next to or parallel to the traditional banking system, finance for the poor is now becoming the chief form of finance in many poor countries". Indeed, the problem of exchange rates was mentioned several times. When institutions and lenders provide loans in foreign currency, local firms are exposed to the risk of exchange rate fluctuations. Felippo VETTORATO (ETIMOS Consortium, Italy) believed that the European Commission had a key role to play in risk cover.
Andreas SCHWARZ, representing the Commission, confirmed that this was one of the priorities of the "new approach" advocated by Development Commissioner Louis MICHEL: "to become more professional in this area, especially after a report by the CGAP which claimed that the EC lacked staff specialised in banking".
Ana GOMES (PES, PT) wound up the meeting by saying there was clearly an opportunity for the EU to make its development aid more effective by improving the current state of affairs.

The CTA has published an extensive work on micro-credit in ACP countries. Check website below and the list of publications.
2684th Council Meeting on Environment
Luxembourg, 17 October 2005
The Council adopted a decision renewing financial aid granted to Haiti that was partially suspended in 2001. Through this decision the EU resumes full cooperation with Haiti and repeals the decision 2001/131/EC concluding the consultation procedure with this country under the ACP-EU partnership agreement (article 96).