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EDITO
Monday, 20 November 2017
Summit of Heads of State and Government of COMESA
Kigali, Rwanda, 2 juin 2005
Commissioner for Development Louis Michel declared that in recent years, Africa has given us tangible proofs that the continent is changing. It has developed powerful leadership and strong institutions, and the African Union Commission is gearing up to become the locomotive for integration within Africa. Africa has taken giant steps to further its political and economic integration. It has constructed a continental organisation, with an imagination and creativity that know no precedent.
Such construction, however, can not hold alone. The African house needs to be set on solid regional building blocks. There will be no continental integration without strong and ambitious sub-regional organisations.
Many of your countries are relatively small by world trading standards, many are also landlocked states. These characteristics imply a serious challenge in the current globalisation trend. The EU response in the past was to open our markets to Africa more than to any other part of the world. We have put in place the Cotonou preferences, as well as Everything But Arms for the LDCs. The result is that African exporters today pay full duty on less than 3% of imports into the EU. The remaining 97% enter at zero duty or at very reduced rates of duty.
- the EU wants to enhance the development dimension of the multilateral trading system, through the Doha Development Round, with a special emphasis on Africa.
- to give a big push to our regional trading agreements with Africa, in order to support your own integration and contribute to your development agenda.
- to boost aid for trade.
As far as rules in the WTO are concerned, the UE should focus on measures to facilitate trade, so as to increase revenues by simplified and more efficient customs duty collection, and so as to decrease costs to consumers and businesses. The cost of trade procedures is significant. It may represent as much as 4-5 % of the overall costs of trade transactions, which is about the same as the average tariff applied to industrial goods by developed countries.
The negotiations of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and the 16 countries of Eastern and Southern Africa, all of which are members of COMESA will provide for even greater market access to EU markets for ACP exports; South/South market creation, which has a great potential and should be seen as a clear priority before increasing market opening of Southern markets to the North; enable the EU to support, financially, the integration processes in the ACP regions.
The EU has an envelope of more than 300 million EUR available to assist the region in the integration process and COMESA is one of the four EU partners in the region.
- The Regional Integration Support Project of 30 m € will contribute to economic integration by developing capacity in policy formulation, implementation and monitoring of regional integration. It will also assist the region in their preparations for the Economic Partnership Agreements.
- A second programme, the Trade Integration Budget Support of 80 m €, will give direct support to the member states of COMESA to move forward in their integration agenda.
Both these initiatives aim directly at supporting economic integration.
- And they complement several other programmes which are in place and which contribute to the integration of the region in areas such as management of natural resources, transport, telecommunication and peace and security.
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If the European Union wishes to become a political and economic heavyweight in the world arena, it must have the resources to match its ambitions. This is the crux of the current debate on Europe's multiannual budget for 2007-2013.
What is the next Financial Perspective about?
At the end of the 1980s, EU governments and the European Parliament agreed on a system of medium-term programming for EU expenditure. The initiative for this came from Jacques Delors, the French President of the European Commission at the time, and the aim was to put an end to internal squabbling between governments and MEPs over the amount of money to be allocated each year to EU policies.
This time the multiannual budget has to be negotiated for an enlarged EU of 25 Member States for the period starting in 2007. Following the June 2004 elections, the European Parliament set up a temporary committee to examine the issues. During the current negotiations, by the end of which the Parliament and the EU governments must reach agreement, MEPs will be keen to defend projects that they consider crucial to the continuing unification of the continent. European solidarity, for example, is crucial to enable the new Member States from Eastern Europe to catch up with the more advanced regions. The EU also needs to fund research and education properly in order to stimulate growth and remain competitive against its increasingly dynamic competitors around the world. And it must be generous towards projects beyond its own borders if it wants to remain a major player on the world political scene.
The talks will not be easy. The countries that pay in more than they receive from the EU budget (known in Community jargon as the net contributors’ set the tone in January 2004 with an announcement that they wanted to impose a ceiling on EU expenditure of 1% of gross national income (GNI). The EU budget is financed largely by ‘national contributions’ paid direct from national treasuries. But in periods of budgetary austerity, Europe's governments are tempted to tighten the purse strings. The German Christian Democrat MEP Reimer Böge, who drafted Parliament’s recommendation, doubts that this overall limit will enable the EU to cover its needs. He has warned that if EU spending does not reach at least 1.07% of GNI, funding for some policies will suffer. The President of the Parliament, Spanish Socialist Josep Borrell, has warned the governments of the 25 Member States that the Parliament will not agree to a penny-pinching deal.
Although bargaining is likely to be tough, the EU countries are keen to reach agreement in June. During their plenary session in Strasbourg from 6 to 9 June MEPs will be the first to debate the EU financial framework for 2007-2013. It will then be down to the heads of state and government of the 25 Member States, who will be meeting on 16 and 17 June, to decide their position.
If the EU institutions do not manage to strike a deal in time, two options are possible: either the existing Interinstitutional Agreement is prolonged (preserving the structure of the current Financial Perspective, with the ceilings being calculated on the basis of the 2006 figures); or the Interinstitutional Agreement is abrogated, in which case the EU reverts to the Treaty provisions for the annual budget procedure.
The proposals of the Böge report
The annual figures proposed by the Böge report within the multiannual framework are:
- payment appropriations: 1.07% of the European Union's GNI (€883 bn over seven years);
- commitment appropriations: 1.18% of GNI (€975 bn over seven years).
The Commission is proposing payments of 1.14% (€943 bn) and committments of 1.24% (€1 022 bn).
Friday, 03 June 2005
EPRI knowledge is a 36 month-project of the 6th Framework Research Programme. It contributes actively raising awareness of Information Society Technologies among parliamentarians from the EU, national and regional level.
EPRI knowledge supports the dissemination of results of the EC's Information Society Technologies (IST) programme and fosters the political debate of the future activities. EPRI knowledge participants are parliamentarians from European, national and regional levels, already involved or interested in Information Society Technologies and IST related themes.
EPRI knowledge offers parliamentarians from the EU, regional and national level the following services
- Studies: aim at developing knowledge and understanding of Information Society Technologies issues among EU, national and regional parliamentarians through conducting new original research.The studies support parliamentarians in their debates on innovative Information Society Technologies demands, solutions and strategies.
-Workshops: dedicated to parliamentarians with special expertise in Information Communication Technologies (ICT) and ICT related decision making. The workshops assist in the development of policy and collaborative working practises across parliamentarians on Information Society Technologies and related issues.
- Conferences: support the exchange of experiences, vision building and development of exclusive knowledge among EU, national and regional parliamentarians. The conferences facilitate access to other parliamentarians and the wider dissemination to the Information Society Technologies community.
The European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, will participate in the 10th Summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) taking place in Kigali, Rwanda, on the 2nd and 3rd June. Commissioner Michel will seize the opportunity to stress the added value that the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) can bring to regional integration and to helping Africa gradually integrate into the global trading system.
This Summit should confirm that regional integration is taking its place on the political agendas of the African countries. The European Commission firmly believes that regional integration and co-operation can help these countries to be in a better position to cope with the challenges of globalisation, a trend which poses a serious challenge but which at the same time can lead to new opportunities if well managed.

The European Commission acknowledges that trade openness alone is not sufficient to combat poverty. The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA)that the Commission is currently discussing with four regional African partners is intended to stimulate growth and reinforce regional integration. The EC has an envelope of €302 million available to assist the region in this crucial process, in which Commissioners Louis Michel and Peter Mandelson work in close co-operation. Moreover, economic integration is an important tool to promote peace and stability, as the European experience has proved.
The European Commission has designated 2007 as European Year of Equal Opportunities for All as part of a concerted effort to promote equality and non-discrimination in the EU. The European Year is the centrepiece of a framework strategy designed to ensure that discrimination is effectively tackled, diversity is celebrated and equal opportunities for all are promoted.