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October 2017
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EDITO
Tuesday, 17 October 2017
The European Commission and the World Bank agreed to an intensified partnership to support Africa's push to accelerate economic growth and make faster progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals.The Commission and World Bank said they will work more closely to support African countries' development priorities, particularly in the critical areas of infrastructure, trade and regional integration. Representatives from the two institutions also stressed that improved governance and strengthened capacity were crucial to successful outcomes in each of these areas. The European Commission and World Bank are the two largest sources of development aid to sub-Saharan Africa. The potential benefits to Africa of strengthened coordination and collaboration in EC and Bank development support are considerable. The agreement stemmed from a meeting of Louis Michel, European Commissioner for development and Humanitarian Aid and Gobind Nankani, Vice President for the Africa Region at the World Bank. The discussion, taking place within the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings, builds on a strong working partnership between the two institutions, and follows consultations in January laying the groundwork for enhanced collaboration in Africa. The discussions took place against a backdrop of increased attention to the development challenge presented by Africa. Both the EC and the World Bank are in the process of formulating strategies for Africa's development. Beyond these efforts, there has been a succession of analytical reports centered on Africa's development needs, but also the opportunities for accelerated growth and sustained poverty reduction. Recent reports by Jeffrey Sachs and by the World Bank have underscored the urgency of mobilizing new support for meeting the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in Africa. The Commission for Africa has called for significantly increased development assistance for the region, making specific funding recommendations to be taken up by the G-8 industrialized nations at its summit this summer. Together we represent a critical mass which can make a real difference for Africans in daily lives, said Mr. Michel. We need more resources, rapidly mobilized, and coordinated more effectively-the partnership with the World Bank moves this agenda forward. As Africa's international partners scale up development programs, it will be crucial that we retain our focus on country-owned, country-specific strategies for shared growth, said Gobind Nankani, World Bank Vice President for Africa. Our experience tells us that countries themselves are the best positioned to identify the obstacles and opportunities they face, and to fashion strategies for meeting the MDGs. Officials from the EC and World Bank plan to meet in Brussels next month to develop specific modalities for collaboration in the key sectors. Officials will identify programs that lend themselves to innovative support mechanisms drawing on the distinct strengths of the two institutions.
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Monday, 18 April 2005
At the Conference of Presidents on 14 April, the European Parliament's political group leaders gave the green light to the new framework agreement governing relations between Parliament and the Commission. The agreement still has to be endorsed by the EP Constitutional Affairs Committee, which will begin discussing it next Tuesday, and then formally approved by the full Parliament.
Greater political accountability and increased legitimacy for Commissioners as well as closer dialogue between Parliament and Commission are the key points of the new agreement. The first code of conduct between the two institutions dates back to 1990 and was amended twice, in 1995 and 2000.
Parliament President Josep Borrell welcomed the completion of the negotiations, saying: With this agreement, the European Parliament and the Commission have shown that they wish to work in a climate of mutual trust, have an efficient working relationship and be completely transparent vis-à-vis the European public. The roles of the two institutions are now clearly defined for the next five years.

Commissioners
The framework agreement establishes a code of conduct governing the appointment of Commissioners, changes to their portfolios and any replacements of Commissioners in mid-term. It thereby addresses three politically sensitive issues: the procedure to be used if an individual Commissioner has a conflict of interest, the consequences of a no-confidence vote by Parliament against a Commissioner and the steps to be taken to replace a Commissioner in the middle of his or her term of office. The agreement also lays down new rules for broadening dialogue and improving the flow of information between the two institutions. The Commission will be required to inform Parliament of the membership of any groups of experts who assist it in its legislative work. In parallel, the two institutions will introduce arrangements to protect the confidentiality of any information they send each other. In addition, the Commission is required to provide any assistance needed by MEPs taking part in election monitoring missions outside the EU. Lastly, measures are envisaged to improve the coordination of procedures and the work programmes of both institutions.
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The Council of Ministers of Economic and Financial Affairs in their meeting of 12 April 2005 adopted a Decision establishing a new programme on promoting safer use of the Internet and new online technologies, in particular for children, and on combating illegal and unwanted content. This Community programme, called "Safer Internet Plus", is established for the period from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2008. The Decision allows for a budget of EUR 45 million, including 20 million for 2005 and 2006. The programme entails four measures, with expenditure being broken down by way of guidance as follows:
- fighting against illegal content, 25-30%;
- tackling of unwanted and harmful content by the final user, 10-17%;
- promoting a safer environment, 8-12%;
- awareness-raising, 47-51%.
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The European Environment Agency (EEA)has published a guide which provides information on the quality of the 37 indicators in the EEA core set. Its primary role is to support improved implementation of the core set in the EEA, European topic centres and the European environment information and observation network (Eionet). In parallel, it is aimed at helping users outside the EEA/Eionet system make best use of the indicators in their own work. It is hoped that the guide will promote cooperation on improving indicator methodologies and data quality as part of the wider process to streamline and improve environmental reporting in the European Union and beyond.
Saturday, 16 April 2005
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