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February 2019
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EDITO
Saturday, 16 February 2019
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.
Main agreements reached in the WTO Summit at Hong Kong of interest for the ACP countries.
- Export Subsidies in Agriculture
After securing commitments from others to reform their own export subsidies, the EU has offered to eliminate its export refund system by 2013, conditional on similar moves from others. This will help lock in global reform of export subsidisation.
- Trade Related Assistance
On Trade Related Assistance the European Union announced that it would raise Aid for Trade spending to more than 2 billion euros a year from 2010. The European Commission announced at the G8 meeting in Gleneagles that it would spend 1 billion euros a year on Trade Related Assistance from 2007. European Member States have committed to matching that commitment from 2010. These funds do not include the money the European Union provides for infrastructure projects in Africa such as road building and energy and water: currently more than 800 million euros a year.
- Duty and Quota Free market access for Least Developed Countries
The EU welcomed the move by Japan and the United States to extend duty and quota free market access for most imports from Least Developing Countries. The EU had urged all developed countries and advanced developing countries to grant tariff and quota free access for all products. The EU has granted duty and quota free access for all imports from LDCs since 2001.
- Cotton
The EU welcomed the agreement to reform US export subsidies for cotton before 2006 and to accelerate reform of trade-distorting domestic subsidies paid to American cotton farmers. Europe only accounts for 2% of world cotton trade and already offers tariff and quota free access to all cotton imports. Europe pays no export subsidies for cotton and it is dramatically reducing its production-linked domestic support.
- Bananas
Bananas were discussed at length by Latin American producers, ACP producers and the EU. Two different positions emerged with Latin American countries requesting a lower tariff and the ACP claiming that the current EU tariff of 176 euros per tonne was too low and would damage its competitive advantage in the EU market. The two groups of countries and the EU agreed on a monitoring mechanism and the appointment of the Trade Minister of Norway as facilitator.
Find some conclusions of the European Councilwhicxh met in Brussels 15 & 16 December 2005.
- the Council reached agreement on the Financial Perspective 2007-2013
- On Africa
The European Council adopts the EU strategy "The EU and Africa: Towards a Strategic Partnership" as called for at its June 2005 meeting. Building on the Cairo Summit, it stresses the importance of enhanced EU-Africa political dialogue, including holding a second EU/Africa Summit in Lisbon as soon as possible, and agrees to review regularly, starting in 2006, progress on the implementation of the Strategy, taking into account the conclusions adopted by the Council on 21 November 2005.
- On migration
The European Council notes the increasing importance of migration issues for the EU and its Member States and the fact that recent developments have led to mounting public concern in some Member States. It underlines the need for a balanced, global and coherent approach, covering policies to combat illegal immigration and, in cooperation with third countries, harnessing the benefits of legal migration. The EU will strengthen its dialogue and cooperation with all those countries on migration issues, including return management, in a spirit of partnership and having regard to the circumstances of each country concerned.
As part of this overall process, the European Council welcomes the Commission's Communication of 30 November 2005: Priority Actions for Responding to the Challenges of Migration and adopts the "Global approach to migration: Priority actions focussing on Africa and the Mediterranean" annexed to these conclusions, covering the following areas: (i)strengthening cooperation and action between Member States; (ii) increasing dialogue and cooperation with African states; (iii) increasing dialogue and cooperation with neighbouring countries covering the entire Mediterranean region; (iv) as well as the questions of funding and implementation.