Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

April 2018
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EDITO
Friday, 20 April 2018
Report of the Conference on Public Awareness Raising and Development Education for North-South Solidarity is now available. The importance of Development Education (DE) as a means of promoting the essential EU values of tolerance and solidarity in an increasingly global, interdependent and multicultural society, was emphasised. Most speakers insisted on the need for DE to build solid support for the increase in public expenditure on development aid -necessary if EU Member States are to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) of halving extreme poverty by 2015.
Suggesting that 2005 could be considered the international year for development, Commissioner Louis Michel and Minister Schiltz recalled other major milestones for the EU and international development cooperation policy this year: (i) the recent publication of three communications by the European Commission (EC), addressing, among other issues, the need for EU Member States to increase their budget allocation to development co-operation - with intermediate targets to be reached by 2010 – in order for the EU to move in the direction of the stated average target of 0.7% of ODA by 2015 and 0.33% for the EU-10; (ii) the public debate on the revision of the EU development co-operation policy priorities and the subsequent reformulation of the Development Policy Statement, to take into account the MDGs; (iii) the meeting of the Council of General Affairs and External Relations, gathering Development Ministers and addressing some of those points, two days after the conference; (iv) the G-8 Summit in July, addressing the issue of poor countries’ debt cancellation. Some immediate outcomes materialised in the wake of the conference and promising initiatives were launched. Within official circles,EU Directors- General for Development Co-operation took good note of the conference recommendations at their meeting of 2-3 June 2005. The Task Force “Enlargement & Development”, coordinated by the EC, endorsed the conference recommendations at its meeting on 10 June 2005. Besides, this Task Force has proposed that discussions take place at the level of CODEV, the working group within the EU Council in charge of development issues. The issue of Development Education was introduced in the new Development Policy Statement of the EC. A group of representative stakeholders is about to be established to ensure the follow-up of the conference and possibly organise further meetings and discussions. The Chair of the EP Development Committee has offered to draft in 2006 an own initiative report on “Public Awareness and Development Education for North-South Solidarity in the European Union”. Stefano Manservisi, Director-General of the EC DG-Development concluded the conference debates by reiterating his support for the process and highlighting the recommendations, which he was prepared to implement.
Saturday, 16 July 2005
Both ”incomplete” and ”too radical”: the sugar reform proposed by the European Commission left a bitter taste for MEPs and stakeholders on Wednesday. In the first EP public hearing to follow Commissioner Mariann FISCHER BOEL’s presentation of the reform of the Common Market Organisation on Sugar, there was broad consensus that the social aspects of the package needed to be strengthened, while trade with non-EU sugar producing countries had to be reviewed to avoid fraudulent sales.

Agriculture Committee rapporteur on sugar Jean-Claude FRUTEAU (PES, FR) was unhappy that some points made by Parliament in its March resolution were missing from the Commission’s proposal. ”The proposed reform focuses too much on competitiveness and largely ignores the social consequences,” he said. Mr Fruteau also argued that the Commission had failed to find new uses for sugar surpluses: ”In the long term we will have to look for alternative energy sources. In this instance, why not turn to sugar to produce bio fuels? Yet the Commissioner hasn't come up with anything new on this".
On 22 June, Commissioner Fischer Boel unveiled her plans for reform which include subsidy cuts as high as 39% for producers, as well as sweeteners for those who leave the industry and compensation for ACP countries. Failure to reform the sector could lead to its ”slow and painful death”, she argued. The sugar sector is the only Common Market Organisation which has remained unreformed since the inception of the Common Agriculture Policy.

Sugar producers and MEPs up in arms
There was criticism across the board from stakeholders, who all deemed the reform ”too radical”. Hubert CHAVANNES, of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers (CIBE), argued that the Commission Proposal was "too drastic in terms of reducing production and prices and it doesn't ensure the sustainability of the sector". He claimed that "the Commission is doing too little about the import problem and it has abandoned any expectation of export”. Ricardo SERRA-ARIAS, Vice-President of the Committee of Agricultural Organisations in the EU (COPA), called for the rejection of the proposal, as "it has confirmed the sector’s most pessimistic predictions". In his opinion, "it lacks solidarity, as it creates a major division between producers". Most Members of the Agriculture Committee shared those views. Georgios PAPASTAMKOS (EPP-ED, GR) felt the reform was drafted by the Commission ”from its ivory tower, without any form of consultation”. Agriculture Committee vice-chair Janusz WOJCIECHOWSKI (EPP-ED, PL) called for an ”impact study to be run by the Commission before implementing such a far-reaching reform”, whereas Marìa Isabel SALINAS GARCIA (PES, ES) and Agnes SCHIERHUBER (EPP-ED, AT) respectively dubbed it ”disproportionate” and ”with no structure”.Among the rare supporters of the reform, the director of the European Consumers Organisation BEUC, Jim MURRAY, stressed that it finally put an end to the dumping of EU sugar on world markets. Also, he pointed out that ”consumers should not pay to maintain the sugar industry in twenty one Member States when production in ten or fifteen countries could suffice.” Industrial Users of Sugar representatives Alain BEAUMONT and David ZIMMER also felt that the reform was much needed as ”companies who act in a competitive market should be able to buy raw material at a competitive price."

Tackling external issues
Sugar rapporteur Jean-Claude Fruteau also argued that there were blatant shortcomings in the "Everything But Arms" provisions (EBA: duty free and quota free access for the least developed countries), which do not address the possible resale of sugar by non-EU countries at EU-guaranteed prices. Jean-Louis BARJOL, of the European Confederation of Sugar producers, saw the EBA shortcomings as a ”Trojan horse”, likely to wreak havoc on the European industry if limitations are not introduced. ”EBA aspects of the reform need to be revisited”, argued Alain LIPIETZ (Greens/EFA, FR).
Reform of the sugar CMO also affects those ACP countries linked to the EU by the Sugar Protocol, annexed to the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement. Arvin BOOLELL, representing Mauritius, and Derrick HEAVEN, president of the Sugar Industry Authority of Jamaica, stressed that, without substantial EU support, the consequences of the reform would be "disastrous for the economic and social fabric" of their countries, which are among the most affected by the reform. Stefan TANGERMANN of the OECD recognised that some ACP countries would lose out, but he said they should not block the reform. These countries could also ultimately benefit from the changes, since, "the arrangements with ACP countries are understandable for historical reasons, but they make the countries dependent[on the EU]" while financial aid would achieve better results. Alison BURROWS, the representative of Australia, also supported the reform, arguing that the existing system was not all that favourable for developing countries. She gave the example of Colombia, which suffered from competition with the EU, and which was strongly supporting the reform.
Wrapping up the hearing, Agriculture Committee chairman Joseph DAUL (EPP-ED, FR) warned that "all the EP committees concerned will duly assess the reform but if uncertainty persists about its financing, they will be left with a difficult job”.
Friday, 15 July 2005
2672nd Council Meeting
Economic and Financial Affairs
Brussels, 12 July 2005
The Council adopted, by qualified majority, a decision fixing the second instalment of financial contributions for 2005 to the European Development Fund (EDF).
A total amount of EUR 750 million, corresponding to the second instalment for 2005, will be paid by the 15 member states previous to the EU's enlargement, to finance EDF operations managed by the Commission, for aid projects in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and member state overseas countries and territories. In addition, EUR 250 million will be paid to the European Investment Bank.
Tuesday, 12 July 2005
Exracts of the joint European Commission and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund
“Equal rights for men and women are a basic condition for development, as essential in education and access to work as it is in the provision of health services. We call for concerted action to advance on gender issues, notably in the area of reproductive health and rights.” Sixty years ago when the United Nations was founded, 2.5 billion people shared our planet. Today, that number is 6.5 billion with more than half women and girls. Gender equality is a key issue in building communities, reducing poverty and helping to save lives. More than 500,000 women currently perish each year in childbirth owing to an absence of emergency obstetric care taken for granted in wealthier countries. Millions of children will die because they were orphaned by HIV/AIDS or because their mothers were too sick, too poor or too ill-educated to feed, nourish and care for them. Through gender action we can save women from HIV/AIDS by empowering them through information, education and negotiation of condom use with their partners. The costs of inequality are high. They include harmful traditional practices that place the lives of women and girls at risk. They include lost productivity, high health care costs and generations destined to an endless cycle of poverty and want. For tens of millions of girls, early marriage and childbearing mean an incomplete education, limited opportunities and serious health risks. The solutions are well known and effective. They include universal education for all girls and boys; guaranteed access to reproductive health services; the equal participation of women in the workforce, economic and political life and anti-discriminatory laws and policies that promote and protect the full range of internationally agreed-upon human rights. On gender equality, the Commission is supporting a variety of projects worldwide such as actions to increase property rights and security for women in Afghanistan, and promotion of women holding parliamentarian seats in South Africa and Mozambique. Equality is a goal that demands sustained political leadership.
Today, on World Population Day, we urge leaders at every level to speak about the great gains that equal rights for women and men offer the entire human family and to take action to make these rights reality. Indeed without the support of men, equality will remain a distant dream. We know what the solutions are, what we need is the political will.
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Monday, 11 July 2005
The European Union has pledged an extra 300 million euros a year Wednesday to help the world’s poorest countries trade effectively, bringing the total annual support from the EU up to 1 billion euros.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso made the announcement at the gathering of the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrialised nations at Gleneagles, Scotland, where fighting African poverty is a priority.
Barroso said the extra funding would help poor countries to boost their trading capacity with projects such as improving roads and waterways and modernising customs services.
"I want this announcement today - along with the EU's agreement last month to get on track to double aid - to send a powerful European message to the G8 table about the level of European ambition in this crucial year for development," Barroso told media representative ahead of the G8 summit.
The EU is already the biggest aid donor in the world, contributing 55 percent of overall aid. But Barroso said the EU executive "can" and is "determined to do more." The Commission chief, who is at the G8 summit as the "9th man at the G8 table", pointed out that even if world markets are made more open many developing countries are badly suited to take advantage of new export opportunities.
"We must build Africa’s capacity to seize the opportunities of free and fair trade. If sub Saharan Africa could regain just 1 per cent more of global commerce that would be worth seven times more income every year than the continent currently receives in foreign aid and in debt relief. Africa’s share of global trade is in steady decline, from 6 percent in 1980, it has fallen to 2 percent in 2002, according to figures from the Commission.
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