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EDITO
Monday, 21 May 2018
At the 24th meeting of ACP-EU Economic and Social Interest Groups, which took place at the headquarters of the European Economic and Social Committee on 28-30 June 2005, Louis Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, and Peter Mandelson, Commissioner for Trade, launched strong calls in favour of greater involvement of ACP economic and social interest groups in the development and trade policies of their countries.
"I am committed towards making social partners privileged partners in development cooperation", stated Mr Michel, while Mr Mandelson called for "...institutionalising dialogue with civil society on the Economic Partnership Agreements" via, for example, the creation of Regional Social Dialogue Committees composed of representatives of socio-professional organisations, which could explore the economic, social and regional impact of the proposed new trade agreements.
The statements of the two Commissioners were reflected in the Final Declaration of the meeting, adopted on 30 June. The Declaration, which will be transmitted to European, ACP and international organisations, addressed the involvement of non-state actors in the implementation of the Cotonou Agreement, the negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreements and regional integration and sustainable development. Delegates stressed the following:
Implementation of the Cotonou Agreement by non-state actors
- The importance of institution-building or structuring of non-state actors;
- The necessity for more information on the Cotonou Agreement;
- The limited consultation to date;
- The fundamental need to increase the capacity of non-state actors, particularly economic and social actors, through enhanced access to funding and reinforced dialogue among actors.
Negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA)
- The negotiations are welcome, under certain conditions, particularly of a social nature;
- Economic and social interest groups must be regularly informed and consulted at all stages of the negotiations of the EPAs;
- Trade liberalisation should not be an end in itself, but must foster development, the establishment of regional markets and must also contribute to poverty eradication.
Priority issues for regional integration and sustainable development:
- The promotion of sustainable rural development;
- The opportunities of sustainable tourism;
- The threats of global climate change;
- The necessity for the sustainable use of natural resources;
- The challenge of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis;
- The importance of education and human resource development;
- The promotion of gender equality.
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Sunday, 03 July 2005
Consultation shows support for a common EU framework on development co-operation and a sharper focus on poverty eradication
The European Commission has published today a report on the results of the public consultation on the future of EU development policy that was launched in January 2005. The aim of the consultation was to start a debate on how the Union should face the challenges of development co-operation. A majority of stakeholders agreed that poverty eradication should remain the main goal of any new policy statement and that the European Union should agree on a common framework for development co-operation.

Louis Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: “ We will make sure that the great variety of views expressed by the hundreds of individuals and organisations is duly reflected in the Commission’s proposal for a new EU development policy.”

Responses

The Commission received 529 contributions from various stakeholders: Members of the European Parliament, representatives from Member States, partner countries’, international organisations, local and regional authorities, NGOs, trade unions, business associations, academic institutions and individuals. Two thirds of respondents were from donor countries, while developing countries respondents were from almost all geographical areas reached by EU programmes.

A clear majority agreed that poverty eradication should remain the main goal of any new policy statement within the framework of the Millennium Declaration. The need for coherence among the various elements of EU external action was also emphasized by various contributions. A vast majority of respondents agreed that development policy should not be subordinated to the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy or to the migration policy, calling instead for better taking into account development objectives in other policy areas, such as the trade policy.

There was a clear consensus that the new development policy should apply to all developing countries. There was also widespread support for the proposal of a common EU thematic framework on development co-operation, although many felt that the proposed themes may be too broad. Most respondents also emphasized the importance of the principle of ownership and the need to anchor EU aid programmes in each country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. While concentration of EU aid in selected focal sectors has been a positive contribution of the 2000 Development Policy Statement, there was consensus on the need for a flexible approach to accommodate partner countries’ priorities and respect the principle of ownership.

Next steps

The consultation process and its outcomes have provided valuable advice and were taken into account in drafting the new Development Policy. The Commission will adopt a proposal for the new Statement by the end of July 2005. The Commission will propose a two-part statement, with the first part addressing the objectives, principles and values of EU development policy and the second providing guidance for its implementation at the Community level.

It is hoped that the Council and the European Parliament will reach a consensus on the Commission proposal, which could then become a Tripartite Statement on the EU Development Policy.
White Band Campaign during the July Session in Strasbourg
The Campaign Global Call to Action Against Poverty was launched by President Lula da SILVA of Brazil at the opening of Porto Alegre World Social Forum in January 2005. Nelson MANDELA launched the campaign in the UK in February 2005.
Since then, more than 600 NGOs across the world, including the major ones, have adhered to the campaign and are trying to get the support of governments and public personalities.
The campaign objectives can be summarised in three points: fair trade; debt cancellation; increase in the quantity and quality of aid.
The Slogan is "Global Call To Action Against Poverty GCAP", and its symbol is a White Band without any logo.
The Committee on Development decided to support this campaign and the July Plenary Session was chosen to make a clear statement before the G8 summit in Gleneagles, starting 6 July.

There will be a white band wrapped around the hemicycle as the visible symbol of this campaign from 4 -7 July. A second white band will be wrapped round the cones near the hemicycle, a band which Members will be able to sign to indicate their support for the "Making poverty history" campaign. After signing they will be given a white band to wear on their wrist.

Following the debate in plenary on Wednesday morning, on the way to the press conference, the white band will be signed by Jack STRAW, UK Foreign Secretary, Commissioner Louis MICHEL, President BORRELL and Luisa MORGANTINI (GUE/NGL, IT) (chair of the Development committee). After the signature, President Borrell will cut the White Band with the signatures of the MEPs and hand it over to Jack Straw, who will take it with him to the G8 meeting to Gleneagles. Afterwards, there will be a press conference - approx. 12.15pm). The White Band around the hemicycle will remain until Thursday evening.
New offices for the European Investment Bank Regional Representation for West and Africa and the Sahel region were officially inaugurated by the President of Senegal, His Excellency Mr. Abdoulaye Wade together with the President of the EIB, Mr. Philippe Maystadt. The new representation office, the second to be opened by the EIB in Africa South of the Sahara, is to play a key role in the EIB’s commitment to build closer ties with its customers and expand operations in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) within the framework of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, and the Investment Facility, a funding instrument created by the Agreement and managed by the EIB since its official launch in June 2003.

The Dakar-based regional representation pole is intended to enhance EIB activities in particular towards the private sector, and to reinforce its visibility with the ACP countries of West Africa. As EIB President Philippe Maystadt said: “The new Representation Office underscores the EIB’s commitment as the European Union’s development financing institution to supporting economic development in Africa under the Cotonou Agreement. Senegal, and in particular its President, being our host, underlines its commitment for the same goal. Both the Bank and the ACP countries realise that implementation of the Cotonou Agreement’s challenging mandate requires a permanent presence in Africa”.

The EIB representations in Dakar will bring both added value in operational terms and flexibility for European Development Finance in the whole region . Local investors will have a point of contact for advice on European Investment Bank financing of projects.
Within the private sector, EIB Dakar will also work with the network of local antennae of the “CDE”, Center for the Development of Enterprise in the region and with “Pro€invest”, both set up as independently managed private sector support instruments under the Cotonou Agreement and its predecessor treaties, the Lomé Conventions.

The EIB Dakar regional representation will further help to improve co-ordination with the European Commission’s grant aid in support of the road infrastructure and water and sewerage sectors, as well as improvements in the governance, regulatory and judicial systems through the national indicative programmes (NIP) in the region. In addition it will strengthen synergies with the EIB’s partners in the European development financing institutions group, the EDFI, and with the World Bank group and other peer institutions.

EIB lending under first full year of the Investment Facility (2004), a risk taking, risk pricing, revolving facility for the ACP private or commercially run public sector, reached sixteen operations for a total of EUR 337 million. In Senegal a loan for EUR 10 million was approved for the Dakar - Ziguinchor maritime link – the relevant finance contract will be signed with the Ministry of Finance on the 1st July.

Two other regional representation offices will be officially opened in sub-Saharan Africa in 2005 with the office for East and Central Africa being officially inaugurated on 30 May in Nairobi. A subsequent regional representation for the Southern Africa region and Indian Ocean will be inaugurated in Tshwane/Pretoria, South Africa.
From 1st July to 31st December 2005, the UK will have the Presidency of the Council.
The UK is taking over the EU presidency at a time of political upheaval. With the high-profile clash over the EU budget still smouldering PM Tony Blair will have a hard time posing as the 'honest broker'.
The rotating EU presidency is a chance for each member state to take the lead in bringing the EU forward. Much is already decided in the shape of a rolling EU agenda. But the presidency can also bring some of its own priorities onto the agenda.

UK PM Tony Blair has recently clashed with his many of his EU colleagues over the EU's long term budget at the 16-17 June 2005 summit, but his speech in the European Parliament on 23 June won over many hearts and he displayed his considerable speaking talents in a defiant speech that did not just blindly seek to build consensus.
However, the speech made it obvious that Blair has an economic reform agenda that he intends to defend and promote. While this does indeed smell like the much longed for leadership, it may not win the UK friends in all corners of the EU, especially not France and Germany who took positions against Blair in the failed budget talks. UK will take on the uphill battle of trying to achieve a budget deal during the presidency.

The UK presidency has a long list of priorities, the hardest nut to crack will be to get a deal done over the EU's financial perspectives for 2007-2013. While the UK may have support from a number of reformist minded countries in Scandinavia and among the EU-10, who would like to see a shift towards more spending on science and innovation, France has made it clear that it will not accept a renegotiation of the 2002 budget deal on the CAP that has frozen agricultural expenditure until 2013.
Better regulation is part of the rolling EU agenda and it will get a further boost from the UK wanting to promote competitiveness and cutting red tape.
The working time directive has already seen the UK's opt out of a maximum 48 hour working week challenged by continental EU, and the issue may resurface.