Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

September 2017
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EDITO
Monday, 25 September 2017
Dozens of mourners from European and Belgian civil society groups carried on Thursday a coffin filled with agricultural products such as rice, chicken and tomatoes through the heart of the European Union (EU) offices area to make the point that livelihoods are being destroyed by unfair international trade.
The procession, led by Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE), Oxfam International, Christian Aid and the Belgian non-governmental organisation (NGO) 11.11.11, made its way past the EU institutions which the groups say are guilty of imposing harsh trade rules.
The stunt is part of the Global Week of Action on Trade in which some 10 million people from thousands of organisations in 80 countries have been campaigning for fair trade.
The message from the development groups was clear. Trade is not just about economics and business, but about peoples' lives, livelihoods, and access to basic services and the environment on which they depend, they said in a joint statement.
The NGOs are also challenging the EU's Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) which the bloc is currently negotiating with 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.. Negotiations are due to be concluded by December 2007, and the EPAs implemented between 2008 and 2020.

These would replace the existing agreement that gives ACP products non-reciprocal, preferential and in most cases free access to the EU market, while also providing financial assistance to ACP countries through traditional aid and policies intended to stabilise export earnings.
The development groups denounce the EU's argument that EPAs will integrate ACP states into the world economy, promote sustainable development, and contribute to poverty eradication. Instead, they are urging the EU to provide ACP countries with viable non-reciprocal alternatives to EPAs.

'GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION' CALLS FOR TRADE JUSTICE

Civil society organisations and religious groups across the globe launched a 'Global Week of Action' beginning 10 April with several million people from over 70 countries calling for trade justice. Events worldwide include special church services, a global fast for trade justice, public debates, concerts, mass rallies, nationwide petitions, and farmers' hearings. The organisers of the week of action said that they aim to challenge the "myth" that the only way to reduce poverty across the world is through more free trade, liberalisation and privatisation. Participants hope to tell the stories of those who are suffering as a result of international trade, put forward alternatives to the current trade system, and demonstrate the scale of the global movement for trade justice.

Stressing that developing countries must have the right to decide which sectors to open to trade and when, the groups co-ordinating the event, including branches of Oxfam, Christian Aid, Attac, and Focus on the Global South, said that developing countries should not be forced to liberalise their industrial, services, or agriculture sectors at the WTO, and that negotiations on special and differential treatment should receive more attention. In addition, they argued that the IMF and World Bank should stop attaching trade liberalisation conditionalities to their loans, and that liberalisation through bilateral and regional agreements between regions or countries at different levels of development should not put the interest of business before the needs and rights of local people and communities. Lastly, they call on developed countries to end export subsidies on agricultural products.

Africa's contribution in world trade is not significant, as well as domestic and intra-regional exchanges. Fair trade is to be explored as an opportunity for more balanced trade relationships and sustainable human development. GRAPAD Benin and several African organisations are planning a conference on this issue. You can join the preparatory debates by sending a message to grapad@intnet.bj or fairtradeafrica@alliance21.org
Friday, 15 April 2005
EurAC is the European network of NGOs active in Central Africa. There are approximately 40 member organisations from 11 European countries (inside and outside the European Union). Its two main activities are advocacy (regarding the political situation in the Great Lakes region and development cooperation policies of the EU and Member States towards these countries) and information about the region.
The site is very easy, practical for a friendly use. It includes inofrmation on the network and its members, the News Bulletin, reference material, etc.
The European Union parliament in Strasbourg has approved the applications of Bulgaria and Romania to join the European Union. MEP's voted overwhelmingly to back both countries' accession bids. This paves the way for Bulgaria and Romania to sign the accession treaty at a ceremony in Luxembourg on April 25. That treaty will then have to be ratified by the parliaments of all 25 current member states. The two countries are now slated to join the EU in 2007, but only if they implement agreed political and economic controls. If they fail to make enough progress, they could see their accession to the EU delayed. The European Commission is to publish a report on their progress in November.
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Thursday, 14 April 2005
An EU-Africa Ministerial meeting took place in Luxembourg on 11 April 2005.Some key elements discussed are:

Key development issues
Environment including desertification, drought, natural calamities and locusts
Ministers noted the need to strengthen the cooperation between Africa and the EU on critical environmental issues facing Africa, such as land degradation, desertification and drought, poor water supply, the deterioration of the coastal and marine environment and the loss of biodiversity. They also noted the need to collaborate in fighting the locust plague. While underlining their own efforts in this area, the African side also recognised the EU’s contribution during the recent outbreak by locusts by providing funds through the FAO. It also expressed appreciation for the creation of EU-ACP Water Facility. Both sides expressed the hope that an agreement would be reached on operational principles in the framework of the 13th session of the UN Committee on Sustainable Development, allowing for progress on the objectives the international community set itself, notably in the framework of the Johannesburg summit of 2002.

EU-Africa dialogue
Ministers recalled their decision taken at the ministerial troika meeting in Addis in December 2004 on the key development issues, namely: HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other related infectious diseases; food security; Africa’s external debt; migration and Plan of Action on human trafficking; Information and Communication Technology; and gender mainstreaming. The took note of the progress report made by senior officials on these issues and encouraged them to pursue their activities through appropriate expert mechanisms and present regular technical reports. The two sides reiterated the need to submit the understanding already reached on Africa’s external debt for endorsement at the highest political level as soon as possible.

EU-Africa strategic partnership
The EU side presented a non-paper on a strategic partnership between the EU and Africa. The non-paper makes a number of recommendations on the format and linkages of the EU-Africa dialogue as well as its content. Both sides agreed to examine the recommendations at the next ministerial meeting.

Regional integration and trade
The EU reiterated its readiness to assist Africa in accelerating its integration process. In this respect, the EU stressed the need to use the EPAs to enhance Africa’s efforts in the areas of regional integration. The AU welcomed this commitment, and highlighted the measures it has taken to accelerate the integration process which included the review of the new protocol on relations between the AU Commission and the RECs, evaluation of the implementation schedule under the Abuja treaty, and the rationalisation of the RECs. Furthermore, the AU Commission drew the attention of the EU to the importance of supporting the capacity building of the RECs and the AU Commission. The AU appealed to the EU to prioritise the provision of economic assistance targeted at addressing the root causes of poverty linked to conflict. The EU took note of this appeal and welcomed the convergence of actions between the two Commissions in addressing this issue.
In recognising the EPAs as a development instrument, the AU emphasised the need to contribute to the improvement of Africa’s capacity in international negotiations and to enhance the access of African products into European markets. Furthermore, the AU Commission launched an appeal to the EU side to call upon the private sector to increase its investment in Africa. The EU provided information on the state of play of the negotiations in the six regional groupings. Both sides agreed on possible dates for meetings of the joint EU-AU mechanisms in May/June 200 . Configuration of the negotiating groups in Africa was mentioned as a possible agenda item.

Commission welcomes the adoption of the directive for environmentally friendly design of energy-using products
The European Commission welcomes today’s adoption by the European Parliament of the Directive on the eco-design of energy-using products. This initiative aims at improving the environmental performance of products throughout their life-cycle by systematic integration of environmental aspects at the earliest stage of their design. EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said that the Directive will deliver long-lasting and increasing energy savings beneficial to consumers that will also contribute to a reinforced security of energy supply for the Community. Vice President Verheugen added that the Eco-design Directive will prepare EU industry to face worldwide challenges related to environmental improvement of their products.

What is eco-design?
Eco-design, means the integration of environmental considerations at the design phase of the product, which is the best way to improve their environmental performance. It is also a long-lasting contribution to securing energy supply and achieving sustainable development. Businesses and consumers will benefit not only from better products and an improved environment, but also economically, because of a more rational use of resources. Easier access to an enlarged EU single market will help enhance competitiveness in the global market place, where environmental concerns are becoming increasingly important.