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Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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Tuesday, 18 December 2018
European DeveloFpment Ministers meeting today in Brussels agreed for the first time a common vision for development. It focuses on eradicating poverty and meeting the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in the poorest countries.
The meeting was chaired by UK Secretary of State for International Development Hilary Benn, who said: "This year has already seen the European Union show global leadership on providing aid to the developing world, with a pledge to double aid volumes by 2010. "By agreeing a common vision on how European aid money should be spent, we have shown that we want to deliver better aid as well as more aid. Given the EU provides over half of all world aid, this will make a huge difference to the lives of millions of poor people. "I hope that the statement will now be adopted by the European Parliament – which would be the first time a development policy statement has been agreed between the European Council, Commission and Parliament.
"In delivering on our commitments to double EU aid by 2010, Ministers agreed to provide more long-term, predictable aid to poor countries, so better helping them to plan for the future.
"We also discussed the importance of providing aid to help developing countries improve their capacity for trade. We noted the European Commission’s commitment to increase its aid for trade to 1 billion Euros by 2010, and the UK, acting as Presidency, agreed to put forward a set of proposals on aid from Member States to assist poor countries’ ability to trade before the WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong."
Ministers also discussed the new EU-Africa Strategy to be adopted at the December European Council. This sets out how the EU will help support Africa’s development, with governance, infrastructure, HIV/AIDS, peace and security, migration and the importance of African ownership being priorities.
After three years of negotiation, the General Affairs Council also saw Member States formally untie all aid channelled through the European Commission. This will ensure that developing countries receive the most suitable aid possible.
Ministers discussed the EU’s response to the South Asia Tsunami, noting that of the 556 million Euros pledged for humanitarian assistance, 452 million – 80 per cent - has been disbursed. They also discussed ways to improve the EU’s response to disasters like the Pakistan Earthquake. Ministers recognised that there is a continuing need for contributions to the immediate relief effort.
Gareth Thomas, UK Minister for International Development, reported on the Pakistan earthquake donor conference in Islamabad on Saturday 19 November, at which he represented the UK Presidency of the EU. The total amount pledged for both relief and long-term reconstruction is now around US$5.8 billion (around 4.9 billion Euros). This includes US$1.9 billion (1.6 billion Euros, £1 billion) in cash grants and assistance in kind, with the remaining US$3.9 billion (3.3 billion Euros, £2.3 billion) in concessional loans. The European Union has pledged around 600 million Euros.
The European 'Consensus on Development' has been agreed by the European Council and Commission, and is expected to be endorsed by the European Parliament before the end of the year. The Parliament has been involved throughout.
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Wednesday, 23 November 2005
19-24 November sees the 10th Joint parliamentary Assembly of the African Caribbean Pacific - European Union countries take place in Edinburgh. Agriculture is one item on the agenda in Edinburgh. Natural disasters, the situation in West Africa and the role of national parliaments in overseeing development aid are on the agenda next week when Edinburgh plays host to parliamentarians from Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and countries of the Pacific. Better known under its acronym "ACP-EU", they are in the Scottish capital for a meeting of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly that brings together representatives from countries that have signed the Cotonou Trade agreement.

What are they debating? Next week the Assembly will debate a report on ways of increasing the role of national parliaments in overseeing the use of development aid. They will also debate ways of making better use of agricultural and mining resources - particularly in the context of ongoing World Trade Organisation negotiations. The parliamentarians will also hear a report on the "causes and consequences of natural disasters" and debate the political situation in West Africa. They will also adopt resolutions on these subjects. Glenys Kinnock MEP, Co-President of the Assembly said ahead of the meeting that "the conference will be an opportunity for us as parliamentarians...to deliberate on the issues and priorities which we share. This includes...funding for development obligation set by the Millennium Development Goals."

Who are they? The Joint Parliamentary Assembly comprises 77 members of the European Parliament and 77 MPs from Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific countries. They meet twice a year (once in an EU country, once in an ACP country) to discuss issues related to the Cotonou accord. It is the only institution of its kind in the world. The institution is governed by common, democratic rules. The meeting in Edinburgh lasts from 19 to 24 November and is open to the general public.

Benin to Britain: The underlying aim of the Cotonou Agreement (named after the capital of Benin where the accord was singed in 2000) is to fight poverty - principally through increased trade and economic activity. It also covers political, cultural and social cooperation designed to foster "peace and security" between its signatories. Issues related to the agreement will be debated in Edinburgh. This type of relationship between the European Union and ACP states dates back to the 1963 Yaoundé convention and from 1975 to 2000 various Lomé conventions. The number of participants and scope of cooperation has progressively expanded.
Friday, 18 November 2005
EU brokers deal on progressive internationalisation of Internet governance at Tunis World Summit
A worldwide political agreement providing for further internationalisation of Internet governance, and enhanced intergovernmental cooperation to this end, was brokered at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis last night. The compromise text agreed was based largely on EU proposals presented in the discussions since June. As a first important element of the agreement, a new international Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will be created to deliberate among governments, the private sector and civil society at large in a multi-stakeholder policy dialogue related to Internet Governance. A first meeting of this Forum will be convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations by the second quarter of 2006 and take place in Greece. The texts agreed in Tunis also include language that will allow for enhanced cooperation among governments, on an equal footing, on public policy issues. Such cooperation should include the development of globally applicable principles on public policy issues associated with the coordination and management of critical Internet resources. This cooperation will make use of relevant international organisations. There was also a consensus in Tunis yesterday that countries should not be involved in decisions regarding another country’s Top Level Domain, thus meeting requests made, in particular, by the EU in the negotiations.
“I welcome the texts now agreed in Tunis. They pave the way for a progressive internationalisation of Internet governance”, commented Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, who is leading the Commission delegation in Tunis. “This agreement was possible because of the strong belief of all democratic nations that enhanced international cooperation is the best way to make progress towards guaranteeing the freedom of the Internet around the globe and also to enhance transparency and accountability in decisions affecting the architecture of the Web. The fact that the EU spoke with one voice in Tunis, and had stood by its case for more cooperation on Internet governance in the run-up to the summit, certainly strongly influenced this positive agreement”.
The text finalised last night reflects a consensus of all participants of the Tunis summit. It will now be officially adopted by the Heads of State or Government, or their representatives, in the course of the World Summit on Information Society that officially starts today and will last until Friday. For the Commission, the days to come will focus on gaining the support of other nations for the EU’s policy of investing in Information and Communication Technology, as a means to overcome the “digital divide”. In addition, the Commission will reiterate its position on the need to safeguard human rights, and in particular freedom of speech, in order to build a truly global Information Society.
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Thursday, 17 November 2005
Next week the GAERC (General Affairs and External Relations Council) is scheduled to adopt a new statement defining EU development policy for the next five years. Entitled the European Consensus on Development the statement will include a section defing an common development objectives and principles covering the approaches of the EU and Member States, as well as a section setting out the policies and priorities for the European Community's development co-operation. With the statement due to be finalised in the next day or so there are fears in last minute negotiations compromises will undermine its clear poverty focus. The Maltese government's pre-occupation with migration is looking for EC aid being made conditional on migration agreements with partner countries. Some Member States are said to be seeking to dilute its principal focus on low income countries and Africa. There are also suggestions that the section on Community development policy should not be confined to ODA. NGOs are urging that the statement be unambiguously focused on poverty eradication, with achieing the MDGs being at the heart of not only the EU's common objectives, but also the development policy of the European Community. In this context the inclusion of the current indicative target for 35% of EC aid to be directed towards social infrastructure ought to be reflected in the statement.
In the spring of 2004 the Presidency Fund was established to strengthen the engagement of New Member States (NMS) in EU Development Co-operation. This initiative was launched in recognition of the role that the10 NMS have on future EU Development Co-operation. Having successfully facilitated the EU expansion in May 2004, the Irish Government took the leadership role in spearheading the Presidency Fund, with the view that it would grow with the support of subsequent Presidency countries, leading to the Dutch Government’s contribution.
The objectives of the Fund is:
- To strengthen the EU Development Co-operation and the International Development Agenda by developing capacities of NMS NGOs to engage in actions toward this end.
- To create a deeper understanding of EU Development Co-operation through interactions between civil society actors in the Global South and those in the NMS.
- To widen the circle of influence NMS NGOs exercise in their engagement in the EU Development Policy Debate by establishing or strengthening National NGO Networks.
- To promote fair representation of the NMS NGOs and their access to EU institutions by facilitating their participation in Europe-wide networks.
The Fund is managed by Eurostep with the support of an Advisory Board comprising highly-placed individuals working in the development sector as well as political representatives. The Fund has an initial operating capital of € 1 million to be used over three years and operates through Calls for Proposals. These will be issued through its website.
On 4 November the Fund has published its first Call for Proposals.