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EDITO
Tuesday, 19 June 2018
EU brokers deal on progressive internationalisation of Internet governance at Tunis World Summit
A worldwide political agreement providing for further internationalisation of Internet governance, and enhanced intergovernmental cooperation to this end, was brokered at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis last night. The compromise text agreed was based largely on EU proposals presented in the discussions since June. As a first important element of the agreement, a new international Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will be created to deliberate among governments, the private sector and civil society at large in a multi-stakeholder policy dialogue related to Internet Governance. A first meeting of this Forum will be convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations by the second quarter of 2006 and take place in Greece. The texts agreed in Tunis also include language that will allow for enhanced cooperation among governments, on an equal footing, on public policy issues. Such cooperation should include the development of globally applicable principles on public policy issues associated with the coordination and management of critical Internet resources. This cooperation will make use of relevant international organisations. There was also a consensus in Tunis yesterday that countries should not be involved in decisions regarding another country’s Top Level Domain, thus meeting requests made, in particular, by the EU in the negotiations.
“I welcome the texts now agreed in Tunis. They pave the way for a progressive internationalisation of Internet governance”, commented Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, who is leading the Commission delegation in Tunis. “This agreement was possible because of the strong belief of all democratic nations that enhanced international cooperation is the best way to make progress towards guaranteeing the freedom of the Internet around the globe and also to enhance transparency and accountability in decisions affecting the architecture of the Web. The fact that the EU spoke with one voice in Tunis, and had stood by its case for more cooperation on Internet governance in the run-up to the summit, certainly strongly influenced this positive agreement”.
The text finalised last night reflects a consensus of all participants of the Tunis summit. It will now be officially adopted by the Heads of State or Government, or their representatives, in the course of the World Summit on Information Society that officially starts today and will last until Friday. For the Commission, the days to come will focus on gaining the support of other nations for the EU’s policy of investing in Information and Communication Technology, as a means to overcome the “digital divide”. In addition, the Commission will reiterate its position on the need to safeguard human rights, and in particular freedom of speech, in order to build a truly global Information Society.
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Thursday, 17 November 2005
Next week the GAERC (General Affairs and External Relations Council) is scheduled to adopt a new statement defining EU development policy for the next five years. Entitled the European Consensus on Development the statement will include a section defing an common development objectives and principles covering the approaches of the EU and Member States, as well as a section setting out the policies and priorities for the European Community's development co-operation. With the statement due to be finalised in the next day or so there are fears in last minute negotiations compromises will undermine its clear poverty focus. The Maltese government's pre-occupation with migration is looking for EC aid being made conditional on migration agreements with partner countries. Some Member States are said to be seeking to dilute its principal focus on low income countries and Africa. There are also suggestions that the section on Community development policy should not be confined to ODA. NGOs are urging that the statement be unambiguously focused on poverty eradication, with achieing the MDGs being at the heart of not only the EU's common objectives, but also the development policy of the European Community. In this context the inclusion of the current indicative target for 35% of EC aid to be directed towards social infrastructure ought to be reflected in the statement.
In the spring of 2004 the Presidency Fund was established to strengthen the engagement of New Member States (NMS) in EU Development Co-operation. This initiative was launched in recognition of the role that the10 NMS have on future EU Development Co-operation. Having successfully facilitated the EU expansion in May 2004, the Irish Government took the leadership role in spearheading the Presidency Fund, with the view that it would grow with the support of subsequent Presidency countries, leading to the Dutch Government’s contribution.
The objectives of the Fund is:
- To strengthen the EU Development Co-operation and the International Development Agenda by developing capacities of NMS NGOs to engage in actions toward this end.
- To create a deeper understanding of EU Development Co-operation through interactions between civil society actors in the Global South and those in the NMS.
- To widen the circle of influence NMS NGOs exercise in their engagement in the EU Development Policy Debate by establishing or strengthening National NGO Networks.
- To promote fair representation of the NMS NGOs and their access to EU institutions by facilitating their participation in Europe-wide networks.
The Fund is managed by Eurostep with the support of an Advisory Board comprising highly-placed individuals working in the development sector as well as political representatives. The Fund has an initial operating capital of € 1 million to be used over three years and operates through Calls for Proposals. These will be issued through its website.
On 4 November the Fund has published its first Call for Proposals.
The SFP programme has just put out an “Inspection Handbook” for use by the Competent Authorities of the ACP States. This new tool is meant to become a reference text for inspectors in their day-to-day work, throughout the production line. It is expected to lead to better organised and better documented inspections with the aim of factoring in the sanitary requirements set by European legislation. As in all export countries, the ACP Competent Authorities are responsible for the sanitary quality of exported fishery products. They issue certificates of conformity with European legislation and carry out the associated inspections on a regular basis. These inspections cover all fish catch and processing areas: vessels, landing sites, means of transport, fish farms and so on.
Visits by the European Union Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) to certain ACP States brought to light the shortfalls of inspections, in particular the lack of organisation, the absence of documentation attesting to the follow-up of inspections, and frequent conflicts of interest between inspection services and the vessels or establishments they are supposed to monitor. The preparation of an “Inspection Handbook” was therefore imperative. The Handbook has four parts: Part One deals with the technical organisation of inspections of the sanitary quality of fishery products, Part Two the organizational aspects of the Competent Authority, Part Three the technical aspects of inspections, and Part Four sets out a number of “model” inspection forms that can be adapted and used by inspectors in their daily tasks.
The Handbook will make it easier for inspectors to find answers to their questions: What equipment is needed by vessels and freezer plants? How do products have to be labelled? What are the maximum residue limits for heavy
metals? What measures can be taken to combat corruption? What are the accreditation criteria for laboratories? What information has to be included on export certificates? How can we respond structurally to a sanitary alert?
“For the first time, a single document brings together all European legislation and practical advice for carrying out inspections,” welcomes Ian Goulding, one of the Handbook’s authors (co-author: Oscar R. do Porto). The Handbook is detailed enough to serve as a reference for training Competent Authority staff and carrying out sanitary inspections in all the ACP States. It must nevertheless be adapted to each country’s structures and legislation. The Inspection Handbook will be available in English, French and Portuguese. The SFP Programme Management Unit plans to make it available to the parties concerned through its internet site and its network of experts on the ground and to distribute it on CD-ROM to the Competent Authorities of ACP States requesting it. The Handbook will also be used at training sessions organised by the Programme or by partner organisations such as the FAO in the ACP States.
The European Parliament is set to back new proposals on development aid and Africa, but warns that progress on both issues must be results orientated.
Talking to journalists ahead of a Thursday joint debate, MEPs Maria Martens and Anders Wijkman welcomed the opportunity to refocus EU aid efforts.
“Europe must do more to help Africa said,” Martens, adding “I am happy that the commission’s new strategy for Africa shows a sense of urgency.”
Martens said she backed the commission’s focus on implementing the stalled Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on poverty reduction.
But she warned that the problem of deep-rooted poverty across many African countries meant that in some countries the MDGs might currently be unachievable.
Structural instability still plagues the continent, according to Martens. Weak and corrupt governments are failing to supply people with basic necessities.
And the Dutch MEP criticised the commission for focusing too heavily on Africa’s more stable nations. Without good governance, stability cannot be achieved she warned. “The EU must deal with fragile and failed states.” A one-size-fits-all strategy on Africa has failed in the past, Martens argued. Anders Wijkman criticised the EU’s lack of coherence in managing development policy. “Often we offer with one hand and then introduce trade policies with the other that have the opposite effect,” said Wijkman. He commended the Commission’s initiative to take a radical look at EU development policy, saying that all too often member states efforts lacked consistency, leading to duplication, high costs and complications for partner countries. Wijkman said that the primary goal of the new policy should be the emergence of a ‘European Consensus’ on development issues. The Swedish MEP took time out from the parliament’s debate on his own climate change report to talk about development. And echoing Martens, Wijkman said that “We should not underestimate the need for good governance in Africa.”
“There are too many examples of corruption in the past. The two key issues are results and good governance.”
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