Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

March 2018
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Saturday, 24 March 2018
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.
The Commission today adopted the initiative -i2010: European Information Society 2010- to foster growth and jobs in the information society and media industries. i2010 is a comprehensive strategy for modernising and deploying all EU policy instruments to encourage the development of the digital economy: regulatory instruments, research and partnerships with industry. The Commission will in particular promote high-speed and secure broadband networks offering rich and diverse content in Europe.
In its i2010 initiative, the Commission outlines three policy priorities:

- to create an open and competitive single market for information society and media services within the EU. To support technological convergence with “policy convergence”, the Commission will propose: an efficient spectrum management policy in Europe (2005); a modernisation of the rules on audiovisual media services (end 2005); an updating of the regulatory framework for electronic communications (2006); a strategy for a secure information society (2006); and a comprehensive approach for effective and interoperable digital rights management (2006/2007).
- to increase EU investment in research on information and communication technologies (ICT) by 80%. Europe lags behind in ICT research, investing only €80 per head as compared to €350 in Japan and €400 in the US. i2010 identifies steps to put more into ICT research and get more out of it, e.g. by trans-European demonstrator projects to test out promising research results and by integrating small and medium sized enterprises better in EU research projects.).
- to promote an inclusive European information society. To close the gap between the information society haves and have nots, the Commission will propose: an Action Plan on e-Government for citizen-centred services (2006); three quality of life ICT flagship initiatives (technologies for an ageing society, intelligent vehicles that are smarter, safer and cleaner, and digital libraries making multimedia and multilingual European culture available to all (2007); and actions to overcome the geographic and social digital divide, culminating in a European Initiative on e-Inclusion (2008).
About 140 participants from 27 national, European and international administrations, non-governmental organisations and other actors of civil society as well as media representatives took part in the conference on public awareness and development education (DE) for North-South solidarity which took place in Brussels, May 19-20. The two-day programme comprised several plenary sessions and the following four topical workshops:
- The enlargement of the EU and the political commitments linked to awareness-raising
- Integration of Development Education in education systems
- Media and communication strategies
- Quality, impact and assessment in DE and public awareness
Mainstream topics in all working groups were Enlargement and MDGs. The issue of MDGs and how to reach them was also raised by most plenary speakers. In her intervention, Eveline Herfkens, UN Secretary-General's Executive Coordinator for the MDG Campaign, underlined that all UN material produced on this topic is available for free use for all national campaigns.
The need to raise EU public opinion awareness on global issues was repeatedly stressed. Especially in the new member states and accession countries this is of crucial importance in order to strengthen citizens' understanding of and support for development cooperation and public spending in this area. This raised awareness should in the end lead to a changing in consumer behavior and lifestyle. A very important and concrete outcome of the conference was that the EU and the member states renewed the commitment to increase ODA levels to 0.7% by 2015 and to spend at least 3% of ODA for development education and awareness raising.
Ministers from the new member states (NMS) responsible for international development cooperation have agreed to new EU collective targets for Official Development Assistance (ODA). Meeting in Brussels for the General Affairs and External Relations (GAERC) Council, the 10 new member states pledged they would strive to contribute at least 0.17 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2010, rising to 0.33 in 2015. The 15 older member states accepted targets of 0.51% by 2010 and 0.7% by 2015.
Countries which have already built ODA systems, like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, are currently spending 0.07-0.12% of GNI on ODA activities. The other NMS are further behind, allocating only 0.03-0.05% of GNI, almost all of which is their contribution to the United Nations institutions.
All NMS are expected to report small increases in ODA every year, because 4.86% of their contribution to the central EU budget is automatically counted as ODA. However, without sustained lobbying and education from civil society, NMS governments are unlikely to make the regular increases in their bilateral (direct) ODA spending that will be needed to reach the targets they accepted in Brussels on 24 May. In most NMS, ODA budgets will need to increase by at least 10% every year between now and 2015 to meet the targets!
Ministers also discussed sources of finance, aid effectiveness, debt, trade, policy coherence, and specific actions for Africa. If all 25 EU member states respect their promises, total EU aid to developing countries, including Africa, could rise from $40bn this year to $80bn in 2010.
As Ministers gathered in Brussels, the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) coalition warned that Germany, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Hungary might undermine an agreement. The GCAP coalition is calling on developed countries to honour commitments they have made to meet the 0.7% target and set binding timetables to meet this figure.
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The PES Group (European Socialists) is organising a Conference on Fair Trade in the European Parliament building in Brussels on 22 and 23 June 2005. Around 300 participants are expected to attend the Conference. The conference aims to show how Fair trade is a successful levy for development and poverty eradication in the South and how it can contribute to redesigning the rules of the global trade agenda. Both Commissioners Mandelson (Trade) and Michel (Development) have confirmed their participation and will present their views on the role the EU has to play in promoting Fair Trade. They will be joined by Ministers from EU Member States who are supporting Fair Trade at a national level.

SERRV International is committed to an innovative plan to integrate development and alternative trade in our work with artisans and farmers.