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Monday, 10 December 2018
The European Council, at its meeting on 15 and 16 December in Brussels, adopted a text on the strategic partnership between the European Union and Africa. This strategy sets out the steps the European Union will take with Africa between now and 2015 to support African efforts to build such a future. It is a strategy of the whole of the EU for the whole of Africa. It takes into account regional and country-specific needs and African countries' national strategies. Its primary aims are the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the promotion of sustainable development, security and good governance, in Africa. Of special relevance for the agricultural sector are the following issues:

Development Assistance
If Africa is to meet the challenge of development, sound policies and good
leadership must be backed by increased, sustainable and predictable financial
flows at a level consistent with our ambitions. The EU will:
- Increase aid, by delivering as official development assistance 0.56% of EU GNI by 2010, with half of the additional €20 billion going to Africa, and 0.7% of GNI by 2015 in the case of 15 Member States, whilst other MS will strive to increase their ODA to 0.33% by 2015.
- Secure more effective and predictable EU financial assistance for Africa,
including by reaching early agreement on a successor to the 9th European
Development Fund as soon as possible
- In order to help to reach the 0.7% target for development assistance, implement on a voluntary basis, innovative financing mechanisms, such as a contribution on airline tickets or through financing the International Finance Facility for Immunisation.
- Support the proposal, agreed in principle with the International Financial Institutions, to cancel outstanding debts owed by Heavily Indebted Poor Countries that qualify by helping to meet the costs. This is expected to deliver in total further debt relief of up to € 42 billion for African countries.
- Reinforce EU humanitarian and disaster response capability by strengthening the EC humanitarian aid department (ECHO) so that it maintains its strong role in under-funded emergencies, in support of the UN's lead.
- Make EU aid more effective, by ensuring early implementation for Africa of our EU and international commitments, as agreed in Paris in March 2005.

Sustainable Economic Growth, Regional Integration and Trade
Rapid, sustained and broad-based growth is essential for ending poverty in Africa.
The EU will:
- Facilitate a better-connected Africa, to itself and the rest of the world; including
by establishing an EU/Africa Infrastructure Partnership, which will be
complementary to the new Infrastructure Consortium for Africa and include
existing initiatives on transport and to facilitate peoples’ access to water and
sanitation, energy and information technology.
- Promote a stable, efficient and harmonized legal business framework in Africa,
for example by convening a Euro-African Business Forum in 2006.
- Help to integrate Africa fully into the world trade system, by pressing for a
successful outcome to the Doha Round of world trade talks that is ambitious,
maximises development gains, ensures special differential treatment, addresses
preference erosion and makes trade work for the poor, and extends duty and
quota-free market access for Least Developed Countries to all industrialised
country markets.
- Provide increased aid for trade, building on the Community's commitment of €
1 billion per year by 2010.
- Agree Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with Africa’s regional
groupings by 2008 that are instruments of development, promote regional
integration, improve African access to European and regional markets; support
asymmetric and flexible implementation of EPAs; and reduce non-tariff barriers.
- Help African countries comply with EU rules and standards, establish clear
rules for services, simplify rules of origin and make them more development
- Support Africa in countering the effects of climate change in accordance with
the EU Action Plan on Climate Change and Development; and in protecting its
environment, through a range of policies, by combating desertification and ensuring the sustainable management of its forests, land and biodiversity fisheries and water. Such support includes, for example, € 500million for the EU Water Facility and € 220 million for the Energy Facility under EDF9.

Investing in people
- Support African efforts to ensure that all children have free primary education
of good quality by 2015, including through the implementation of Africa's
Education for All programme.
- Promote development of Euro-Africa networks of universities and centres of
excellence, including through helping the AU establish a new exchange
programme (the Nyerere Programme) for students in Africa.
- Provide predictable, multi-year financing for health systems in Africa so that all
Africans have access to basic healthcare.
- Enhance our support for the fight against infectious diseases, including by
providing further EU contributions to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and malaria,
thereby maintaining the EU’s share of global contributions (at least 50%).
- Improve food security for the most vulnerable, by helping lift 8 million
Africans out of hunger by 2009 through country-led safety-nets for chronically
food insecure populations who rely on humanitarian programmes.
- Recognise the importance of women in all our policies towards Africa in view
of their crucial role in economic growth, development, education.
The European Commission presented this week “100 Technology offers stemming from EU Biotechnology RTD results”, a catalogue of biotechnology developments arising from EU-funded research projects over the last 10 years.
This guide will help to put researchers and companies in contact, hopefully leading to new and innovative products and processes based on this research. Examples featured in the catalogue include applications for food and plant biotechnology, biopharmaceuticals and biomedical technologies to support diagnostics and therapy. Each technology offer is described, including its potential for future commercial exploitation, and contact details are given for the researchers and the owners. “100 Technology Offers” is an example of how the European Commission is supporting the transformation of research into innovation.
Over the last 5-10 years, the Commission has required projects to develop a technological implementation plan, as part of making scientists aware of issues relating to intellectual property and entrepreneurship.
Of special relevance for ACP countries agricultural sector are the parts on food and plant biotechnology.
Wednesday, 21 December 2005
Austria takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 January 2006.
The Presidency of the Council of the European Union is held in turn by each member state. The Council is presided for a period of six months (from January to June, and from July to December) by each member state in turn, in accordance with a pre-established rota.The Presidency of the Council plays an essential role in organising the work of the institution, particularly in promoting legislative and political decisions. It is responsible for organising and chairing all meetings, including the many working groups, and for brokering compromises.
See attached information on the order of the presidencies of the EU Council until June 2018 as well on the role of the Council, votes for each Member State and more.
The 2006 budget of the Belgian Development Cooperation was established at 901 million euros, which represents an increase of around 100 million euros (12.5%) over the starting budget of 800.934 million euros that was approved for 2005. The current Belgian government, takes serious account of the objective of attaining 0.7% of the Gross National Income (GNI) by 2010 and that the necessary budgetary resources are being secured in order to reach this target. Belgium has wholeheartedly assumed the obligation to devote 0.7% of the GNI to development cooperation by 2010. In the spirit of Monterrey in 2002, the "General Affairs and External Relations" Council of the EU of 24 May 2005 devoted to development cooperation, decided to reach the goal of 0.7% of the GNI for the Member States of the European Union by 2015. The attached table gives the amounts realised and the estimates for the development cooperation, on the basis of the current data known for the GNI, in order to attain this objective. As of 2007 the forecasts support the hypothesis that 60% of the expenditures will be included in the Development Cooperation budget.

The CTA and the Belgian Cooperation have so far co-funded activities on the impact of HIV/AIDS on agriculture and rural communities in favour of rural women networks in African countries.
The European Parliament adopted the EU 2006 budget in Strasbourg after a tough budgetary procedure. The two arms of the budgetary authority were at odds over the ambition of next year's budget. It took two conciliations to finalise a package which set payments at €111.969bn in payments or 1.01% GNI for 2006 as well as special financing arrangements for the EU's external action.
It is important to bear in mind that, were there to be no agreement on the next financial perspective, it is the 2006 budget which would serve as the basis for negotiations to set subsequent annual budgets. This agreed level of 1.01% represents an increase over 2005, for which payments had been set at 1% of GNI. This increase amounts to €5.7 billion versus 2005, or 5.3%.

The part which id of interest to our ACP partners is the one related to the external policy summarised below.
- External actions
Around €275 million is envisaged over and above the ceiling of the current financial perspective for the heading External action via the flexibility instrument (allowing to add funds to the Budget for unforeseen, non-recurring items). This was a major bone of contention at the conciliation between Parliament and Council (with the latter refusing to go above 200 million) but this use of the flexibility instrument will make it possible to finance reconstruction in Iraq and in countries hit by the tsunami of December 2004. It will also help the ACP countries (African, Caribbean and Pacific) affected by the sugar reform and provide more money for the common foreign and security policy (CFSP). These decisions are taken on board in the report by Mr Böge on the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument.
The total funding for the CFSP for 2006 rises to €102.6 million, an increase of 40 million compared to the 2006 preliminary draft budget. Information meetings on CFSP actions between MEPs and ambassadors representing the Council must now be held every three months.