Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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Friday, 19 January 2018
The European Union parliament in Strasbourg has approved the applications of Bulgaria and Romania to join the European Union. MEP's voted overwhelmingly to back both countries' accession bids. This paves the way for Bulgaria and Romania to sign the accession treaty at a ceremony in Luxembourg on April 25. That treaty will then have to be ratified by the parliaments of all 25 current member states. The two countries are now slated to join the EU in 2007, but only if they implement agreed political and economic controls. If they fail to make enough progress, they could see their accession to the EU delayed. The European Commission is to publish a report on their progress in November.
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Thursday, 14 April 2005
An EU-Africa Ministerial meeting took place in Luxembourg on 11 April 2005.Some key elements discussed are:

Key development issues
Environment including desertification, drought, natural calamities and locusts
Ministers noted the need to strengthen the cooperation between Africa and the EU on critical environmental issues facing Africa, such as land degradation, desertification and drought, poor water supply, the deterioration of the coastal and marine environment and the loss of biodiversity. They also noted the need to collaborate in fighting the locust plague. While underlining their own efforts in this area, the African side also recognised the EU’s contribution during the recent outbreak by locusts by providing funds through the FAO. It also expressed appreciation for the creation of EU-ACP Water Facility. Both sides expressed the hope that an agreement would be reached on operational principles in the framework of the 13th session of the UN Committee on Sustainable Development, allowing for progress on the objectives the international community set itself, notably in the framework of the Johannesburg summit of 2002.

EU-Africa dialogue
Ministers recalled their decision taken at the ministerial troika meeting in Addis in December 2004 on the key development issues, namely: HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other related infectious diseases; food security; Africa’s external debt; migration and Plan of Action on human trafficking; Information and Communication Technology; and gender mainstreaming. The took note of the progress report made by senior officials on these issues and encouraged them to pursue their activities through appropriate expert mechanisms and present regular technical reports. The two sides reiterated the need to submit the understanding already reached on Africa’s external debt for endorsement at the highest political level as soon as possible.

EU-Africa strategic partnership
The EU side presented a non-paper on a strategic partnership between the EU and Africa. The non-paper makes a number of recommendations on the format and linkages of the EU-Africa dialogue as well as its content. Both sides agreed to examine the recommendations at the next ministerial meeting.

Regional integration and trade
The EU reiterated its readiness to assist Africa in accelerating its integration process. In this respect, the EU stressed the need to use the EPAs to enhance Africa’s efforts in the areas of regional integration. The AU welcomed this commitment, and highlighted the measures it has taken to accelerate the integration process which included the review of the new protocol on relations between the AU Commission and the RECs, evaluation of the implementation schedule under the Abuja treaty, and the rationalisation of the RECs. Furthermore, the AU Commission drew the attention of the EU to the importance of supporting the capacity building of the RECs and the AU Commission. The AU appealed to the EU to prioritise the provision of economic assistance targeted at addressing the root causes of poverty linked to conflict. The EU took note of this appeal and welcomed the convergence of actions between the two Commissions in addressing this issue.
In recognising the EPAs as a development instrument, the AU emphasised the need to contribute to the improvement of Africa’s capacity in international negotiations and to enhance the access of African products into European markets. Furthermore, the AU Commission launched an appeal to the EU side to call upon the private sector to increase its investment in Africa. The EU provided information on the state of play of the negotiations in the six regional groupings. Both sides agreed on possible dates for meetings of the joint EU-AU mechanisms in May/June 200 . Configuration of the negotiating groups in Africa was mentioned as a possible agenda item.

Commission welcomes the adoption of the directive for environmentally friendly design of energy-using products
The European Commission welcomes today’s adoption by the European Parliament of the Directive on the eco-design of energy-using products. This initiative aims at improving the environmental performance of products throughout their life-cycle by systematic integration of environmental aspects at the earliest stage of their design. EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said that the Directive will deliver long-lasting and increasing energy savings beneficial to consumers that will also contribute to a reinforced security of energy supply for the Community. Vice President Verheugen added that the Eco-design Directive will prepare EU industry to face worldwide challenges related to environmental improvement of their products.

What is eco-design?
Eco-design, means the integration of environmental considerations at the design phase of the product, which is the best way to improve their environmental performance. It is also a long-lasting contribution to securing energy supply and achieving sustainable development. Businesses and consumers will benefit not only from better products and an improved environment, but also economically, because of a more rational use of resources. Easier access to an enlarged EU single market will help enhance competitiveness in the global market place, where environmental concerns are becoming increasingly important.
Questions and Answers on Commission Millennium Development Goals Package

1. What is the package about?
The Commission has approved today 3 Communications on the subject of the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals). The documents suggest the Union’s joint undertakings for the MDG progress review at the UN’s General Assembly in New York in September this year. The package makes proposals in the areas of Finance for Development, Coherence for Development and Focus on Africa. Commissioner Michel stated that these proposals – if supported by Council and Parliament - will put the EU as the world’s largest donor in the political lead.

2. Why do we need these proposals?
In September 2005 the UN General Assembly will review progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals which were agreed by the world community in 2000. These MDGs have become the central theme of global development cooperation efforts. The EU has at several occasions underlined the importance of the MDG Review in September as a decisive opportunity to accelerate progress towards achieving the MDGs. In November 2004, the Council invited the Commission to ‘prepare specific and ambitious proposals for action, in particular in the areas of Finance for Development, Coherence for Development and Focus on Africa`. As the world’s biggest donor (over 50% of worldwide official development assistance - ODA), the EU has an important role in the process of achievement of the MDGs. Several reports taking stock on the fulfilment of the MDGs have identified substantial shortcomings, in particular in sub-saharan Africa. Calculations show that – given the current speed of progress – some MDGs would only be achieved in several decades. This is morally and politically unacceptable.

3. What is new in the Commission’s proposals?
Focus on Africa: The Commission wants the Union to make a difference in areas where it has a comparative advantage or where it can fill existing gaps and catalyse the actions of other partners. The Communication proposes to assign Africa a political priority and to accelerate the EU’s actions in a limited number of areas:
- the volume of resources should be increased, a sufficient share of the rise in official development assistance should go to Africa
- all proposals on policy coherence and on quality of aid should be applied in Africa as a priority. The aim is to formulate a common European response.
- the Commission proposes key commitments for action in a number of areas identified by the Africans themselves as crucial to their development, these include:
- improving Africa’s governance
- interconnecting Africa’s networks and trade
- striving towards equitable societies, access to services and environmental sustainability.
Coherence for Development: Commitments on coherence already steer EU policies. However, with the present communication, these commitments and actions are assessed within the framework of global efforts to achieve the MDGs. With this, the EU reconfirms and strengthens its engagement to effectively deliver and monitor delivery within the given MDG timeframe between today and 2015.

In reply to the Council request to look at options to strengthen the coherence of EU policies in support of attaining the MDGs, the Commission has identified a number of priority areas including trade, environment, agriculture where the challenge of attaining synergies with development policy objectives is considered particularly relevant. For each of these priority areas the Commission has defined general orientations, or ‘coherence for development commitments’ that it considers relevant contributions to accelerating progress. The Commission invites the Council, the European Parliament and the European Social and Economic Committee to confirm its acceptance of these commitments, as a joint engagement of the EU and its Member States towards improved coherence, and a substantial EU contribution towards the MDGs

More finance and improved aid delivery are important, but in itself not sufficient to allow the developing world to reach the MDGs by the year 2015. For this purpose the contribution of non-aid policies in attaining the MDGs must also be considered. (see also points 6 and 7)

Finance for Development: Following the Council’s mandate to present “concrete proposals on setting new and adequate ODA targets for the period 2009-2010 while taking into account the position of the new Member States”, the Commission proposes two intertwined targets to be reached by 2010:
- individual ODA targets for each Member State, differentiated between old and new Member States: The Commission proposes old Member States to increase their ODA to a new individual baseline of 0.51% GNI, in case they have not yet reached it. The Commission proposes the new Member States to reach 0.17% GNI.
- a collective average target for the Union of 0.56% ODA/GNI.
Both targets – if achieved - could allow the EU to reach 0.7% of ODA by 2015. This would put the EU as the world’s largest donor in a position to comply with a basic international aid target. In addition, the proposal ensures fair burden sharing between Member States.
MAP(Monitoring Agri-trade Policy) is a quarterly newsletter which provides in-depth analysis on relevant agricultural trade and agri-trade policy issues. The first issue of March 2005 focuses on U.S. farm policy and domestic support – how it has evolved, the main elements of its domestic support system and how it compares to EU farm policy. This Newsletter is produced by the General Directorate of Agriculture of the european Commission.