Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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EDITO
Tuesday, 19 June 2018
Economic Partnership Agreements: EU and Central Africa agree next phase of negotiations
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson met with Central African Ministers on the 25th November in Brussels to agree on the next phase of the Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations between the two regions. Ministers agreed to launch the next phase of negotiations in January 2006, and endorsed a detailed calendar. Work will therefore begin shortly on drafting the text and legal provisions of the EPA, in areas such as trade in goods, competition policy, public procurement, intellectual property rights, services, investment and trade and environment. The impact of the EPA on productive sectors in Central Africa will also be analysed, in order to prepare the future market access discussions. Commissioner Michel also participated in the meeting, underscoring the Commission’s commitment to helping Central Africa both manage economic change and grasp the opportunities the EPA will provide.
Wednesday, 30 November 2005
The DG Development has issued a special bulletin on the outcoöes of the World Summit on Information Society held in Tunis from 16 –18 November.
The European Union holds a very positive approach to financing Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and sees it as an important and integral part of development. Especially areas such as education, health, economic growth and governance would profit from more advanced ICT and especially from better ICT infrastructure. For the delegation of the European Union, two key issues were in the centre of attention of the second phase of the summit: Internet governance and financial mechanisms for bridging the digital divide between developed and developing countries. As a third issue, the question of the implementation of the WSIS acquis and a potential follow-up to the Tunis Summit should be negotiated. All these issues have found a positive outcome. The European Union believed that a sound and advanced ICT infrastructure was essential for Africa to meet the MDGs. The EU is responding to these challenges by moving ahead with an ambitious Europe-Africa Partnership on Infrastructure that will cater among others for Trans-African Networks for Telecommunications. In the framework of the follow-up to the WSIS, this will include supporting the development of advanced and low-cost technologies for electronic communications and the development of regulatory frameworks to create a sound business environment for innovation, growth and social inclusion. But there are still a number of hurdles to be taken before in Africa a lively ICT industry ready to boost the economy will be established. Among the foremost problems are bureaucratic and legal procedures for example already when a new firm should be incorporated or registered. Other vital problems are access to credits, good corporate governance, contract enforcement and court efficiency and finally a sound culture of bankruptcy, which allows assets and human capital to be reallocated in order to take on efficient and productive use again.

CTA has issues a special issue of his Bulletin ICT Update dedicated to the W World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS-2).
Saturday, 26 November 2005
Young people across the European Union and neighbouring countries are among the main victims of a resurgence of the deadly HIV/AIDS epidemic. In the run-up to World AIDS Day on 1 December, freshly released data from the EU-funded “Euro-HIV” network indicates that the number of people newly diagnosed with HIV is increasing steadily. In the 20 EU countries for which data was available for the last 4 years, the total number of reported new HIV diagnoses increased by 23%. The escalation has been largest in the United Kingdom, with a 69% rise. In 2004 just under 72 000 cases were reported in the whole WHO European Region. According to new UNAIDS estimates 2.3 million people are living with HIV and AIDS within the European region To help combat the rise of the epidemic in Europe and neighbouring countries, the Commission will shortly adopt a Communication detailing concrete steps for 2006-2009. These will address aspects such as the involvement of civil society, partnerships with industry, surveillance, prevention of new infections, drug dependence, education, counselling and testing, research, and initiatives for neighbouring countries. The European Commission is continuing to invest in research projects focussing on new drugs as well as microbicides and vaccines to prevent the spread of the virus.

Combating AIDS in Developing Countries
With a contribution of 2 billion EUR, the European Union is the main donor of the UN’s Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and Malaria. This fund was created to deliver quick and massive funding to developing countries to scale up their programmes to combat the three diseases according to their own priorities. In addition, the EC advocates the introduction of tiered pricing and promotes a political dialogue for the drastic reduction in the price of drugs including antiretrovirals. Affordable drugs are the main precondition for an access to treatment for thousands of people in the developing world. On a global scale, AIDS today is still a problem in particular of developing countries, with sub-Saharan Africa being most affected.
Commission welcomes the support by the EU Council and the Parliament to offer a complete untying of aid
The European Community has adopted two regulations on the access to EC external assistance that establish an unprecedented level of untying. Giving aid on the condition that it will be tied to the purchase of goods and services from the donor country has been a major impediment to the effectiveness of aid. But this consensual decision represents a remarkable step toward the enhancing of EC aid effectiveness.
The Council and the Parliament have agreed to the Commission’s approach that goes far beyond a trade negotiation between donors. It puts the partner country at the center and advocates an intelligent use of the concept of untying that also supports regional integration, capacity building and the development of local markets. It helps concretely the partner country to become a major actor of its own development not only in political terms but also as an operational actor.
European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, presented this agreement as “a concrete delivery that proves that we have taken seriously the commitments we made on aid effectiveness in the UN Summit”.

In the new regulations, all aid to the Least Developed Countries will be unilaterally untied. All expertise will be untied and based only on its dual criteria of quality and price. Food aid will be untied. In total, this is 30% of all EC aid that will be completely untied. According to international agreed estimations this would create a better value for money up to € 500 million. This goes much further than the existing limited international consensus that covers 2% of aid.
The remaining part of EC aid will be open to other donors upon the condition that they open themselves their own aid, according to the principle of reciprocity. This represents a generous offer for those donors that do not yet untied their own aid. It could bring an additional better value for money of € 1.2 billion.
The regulations also entail several operational simplifications favouring more joint actions between donors. They constitute a further implementation of the principles and commitments agreed by the European Union in the High Level Forum on harmonization and it so-called internationally “Paris Declaration” on aid effectiveness.
EU radically reforms its sugar sector to give producers long-term competitive future
European Union agriculture ministers today (24th November) reached political agreement on a wide-ranging reform of the Common Market Organisation for sugar, based on the proposal tabled by the European Commission in June. The reform will enhance the competitiveness and market-orientation of the EU sugar sector, guarantee it a viable long-term future and strengthen the EU’s negotiating position in the current round of world trade talks. It will bring a system, which has remained largely unchanged for almost 40 years, into line with the rest of the reformed Common Agricultural Policy. The guaranteed price for white sugar will be cut by 36 percent over 4 years; farmers will be compensated for, on average, 64.2 percent of the price cut through a decoupled payment - which will be linked to the respect of environmental and land management standards and added to the Single Farm Payment; countries which give up more than half of their production quota will be entitled to pay an additional coupled payment of 30 percent of the income loss for a temporary period of five years; a generous voluntary restructuring scheme will be established to provide incentives for less competitive producers to leave the sector; intervention buying of surplus production will be phased out after four years. Developing countries will continue to enjoy preferential access to the EU market at attractive prices. Those ACP countries which need it will be eligible for an assistance plan worth € 40 million for 2006, which will pave the way for further assistance.
“I am delighted with this historic agreement,” said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. “I congratulate ministers for their brave and bold decision to reform a sector that nobody has been able or willing to reform in the past. It has been tough but common sense has prevailed. This agreement will give the EU sugar sector a viable and competitive future. Acting now means we have the funds available to ease the painful restructuring of the sector that is an absolute must, and to compensate farmers. This deal offers the sector long-term certainty. It will not cost a single cent extra in public money. It is also very important externally. Our new policy will be trade friendly, thus strengthening our hand at next month’s WTO Hong Kong Ministerial. Farmers will receive a direct payment largely decoupled from production. From 2009, the world’s poorest countries will have completely free access to our market. The EU will remain an attractive market for developing countries to sell their sugar, and we will offer our ACP partners financial assistance to adapt to the changes. This agreement will also ensure that we come rapidly into line with the recent WTO panel.”
The sugar sector will come into line with the CAP reforms of 2003 and 2004. The reform takes proper account of farmers’ incomes, consumers’ interests and the situation of the processing industry. It will bolster the competitiveness of the EU sugar industry, improve its market orientation and produce a sustainable market balance in line with the EU’s international commitments.
Europe will remain an attractive market place for developing countries to sell their sugar. The Commission is also proposing an assistance scheme for the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries which traditionally export sugar to the EU, initially worth 40 million euros for the second half of 2006. Further long term assistance will be secured for the period 2007-2013, depending on the outcome of the discussions on the Financial Perspectives.

The African, Caribbean and Pacific countries have expressed outrage at the agreement (see press release attached), which is only a 3% smaller cut than the 39% originally proposed. The ACP countries have been significant beneficiaries of the EU system up until now.
They had been pressing for a cut in prices of only 19%, failing which they claimed they stood to lose €300 million a year in direct export earnings and the destruction of their sugar industry.