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Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

May 2019
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EDITO
Sunday, 26 May 2019
European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, signed today a 30M€ support program for regional economic integration in the Eastern and Southern African region. Louis Michel participates at the Indian Ocean Commission summit which takes place in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Commissioner Michel said: “Regional integration and the removal of barriers which limit the region’s trading opportunities are two vital elements for development and eradication of poverty.” The overall objective of the Regional Integration Support Programme (RISP) is to assist the Regional Organisations (COMESA, EAC, IGAD and IOC)[1] in the implementation of their respective programs for regional integration.Louis Michel stressed his « strong commitment to capacity building of regional organisations, reinforcing their ability to provide the services needed to facilitate regional integration of their member states”.
The programme’s purpose is to develop the capacity of the Regional Organisations and their member states in policy formulation, implementation and monitoring of regional integration, multilateral and regional trade and trade-related areas. It will also assist the countries in the region in their preparation for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations. The four ACP member states of the IOC, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles, all members of COMESA, will benefit from this large programme.“I strongly believe in ownership by African countries of their development policies, but this implies having the means to realise them and this is our contribution”, said Commissioner Michel. This programme will be implemented through an innovative ‘Contribution Agreement’ with COMESA which allows funds to be used according to the organisations’ own structures, procedures and systems. This novel approach will speed up and simplify implementation and, at the same time, reinforce the beneficiaries’ internal administrative capacities. It is a substantial step led by the EU towards the harmonisation of donors’ assistance.
The EC and the East and South African region have agreed long term cooperation under the Cotonou Agreement. The current five-year strategy for regional cooperation was agreed in November 2002 for 223 M€. Support to regional economic integration is the highest priority.
The total budget for the RISP amounts to 38 M€, 30 M financed by the EU and 8 M co-financed by COMESA and EAC. The activities that will be supported under the programme are: implementation of COMESA and EAC Customs Union roadmaps; consolidation and expansion of the COMESA Free Trade Area; improved trade negotiating capacities (including EPAs) in ESA member states; development of regional standards and capacities of standards bureaus in member states; improved and harmonised statistical data; harmonisation of implementation of the Regional Payments and Settlement System.
[1] COMESA : Common Market for East and Southern Africa; EAC: East African Community; IGAD: Intergovernmental Authority on Development; IOC: Indian Ocean Commission
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Saturday, 23 July 2005
Today the European Commission presents a new publication on Europe’s position in research and innovation. The “Key figures 2005 for science, technology and innovation” show worrying trends in R&D investment and innovation in Europe. The growth rate of R&D intensity (R&D expenditure as % of GDP) has been declining since 2000 and is now close to zero. Europe is on track to miss the objective it set itself to boost spending on R&D from 1,9 to 3% by 2010.
European Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potocnik said: “We must heed this wake-up call. If the current trends continue, Europe will lose the opportunity to become a leading global knowledge-based economy.” The 2005 key figures show that EU R&D intensity is close to stagnation. Growth of R&D investment as a % of GDP has been slowing down since 2000 and only grew 0.2% between 2002 and 2003. Europe devotes a much lower share of its wealth to R&D than the US and Japan (1.93% of GDP in the EU in 2003, as compared to 2.59% in the US and 3.15% in Japan). While China has lower R&D intensity (1.31% of GDP in 2003) it grew at about 10% per year between 1997 and 2002. If these trends in the EU and China continue, China will be spending the same amount of GDP on research as the EU in 2010 – about 2.2%.
One of the reasons for this has been a slow-down in business funding of R&D. In 2002 business funding grew at a slower rate than GDP, though this was compensated for by a slightly higher growth of government funding, as well as growth in R&D financed from abroad. In 2002, business financed 55.6% of domestic R&D expenditure in the EU, compared to 63.1% in the US and 73.9% in Japan, and this share is decreasing. If the trend is not reversed, not only will the EU miss the overall target of two-thirds of R&D expenditure financed by the private sector in 2010, but the situation will have worsened. The most worrying conclusion of the key figures is that Europe is becoming a less attractive place to carry out research. Between 1997 and 2002, R&D expenditure by EU companies in the US increased much faster than R&D expenditure by US firms in the EU (by 54% compared to 38%). The net imbalance in favour of the US increased five-fold between 1997 and 2002, from about €300m in 1997 to almost €2b in 2002. Additionally, US investment has been growing at a much greater rate in areas outside the EU – about 8% per year in the EU and 25% per year in China.
These trends are worrying in the context of Europe’s intention to becoming a leading knowledge-based economy. A recent impact assessment by the European Commission showed that investment in R&D at European level has a positive effect on productivity and economic growth. The study also showed that funds spent at European level were successful in mobilising additional business spending. If Europe is to become an integrated research area where the best research can be carried out, able to attract investment from all over the world, there must be a substantial and wide-ranging European level programme, as proposed by the Commission in April 2005. Otherwise, Europe will remain a series of national programmes, with little coherence. Enterprises will keep relocating their research and innovation activities to other continents offering attractive public support and larger research, innovation and commercial markets. A recent public opinion survey showed that EU citizens support spending more on research at both national and European level.
The 2676th Council Meeting Agriculture and Fisheries held in Brussels, 18 July 2005 discussed the admission of third-country nationals to carry out scientific research in the UE.
The Council adopted a recommendation to facilitate the issue by member states of uniform shortstay visas for researchers from third countries (3621/1/05. The recommendation is aimed at consolidating the European research policy with a view to the achievement of the objectives of the Lisbon economic reform strategy. The recommendation covers only the area of uniform visas issued for a total period of no more than three months and calls on member states to adopt measures facilitating the entry and movement of researchers who are nationals of third countries subject to a visa requirement under regulation no 539/2001.
The recommendation will be completed by two other texts : a directive establishing procedure for admitting third-country nationals for purposes of scientific research and a recommendation to facilitate the admission of third-country nationals to carry out scientific research in the EU.
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Tuesday, 19 July 2005
Benchmarks for Pro Development- Report from ICTSD and Aprodev
What do people mean when they say that trade should promote development? What is their understanding of development? Is it poverty reduction, economic growth, or pro-poor growth (however this might be defined)? Is analysis made of the effects of various trade regimes on different groups in society, urban-rural, poor women and men? Produced jointly by ICTSD and APRODEV, this report tries to go beyond the rhetoric and makes proposals for the practical integration of development perspectives in the EPA negotiations. The Cape Town Declaration, unanimously adopted by the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in March 2002, called for the establishment of development benchmarks against which to assess the conduct and outcome of the ACP-EU trade negotiations. This report aims to meet the challenge laid down by the Cape Town Declaration by formulating a number of such benchmarks. It does not make a case for delaying or accelerating the EPA negotiations but focuses on ensuring that EPAs can be used as an instrument to work towards the Millennium Development Goals and beyond. As many areas and issues still have to be worked out in more detail, this report does not represent the final word on how to include development perspectives in the EPA negotiations. It is hoped, however, that the report’s main message – to apply a benchmark approach in monitoring the EPA negotiations – finds an open ear with the ACP and EU negotiators. More broadly, the benchmark approach could also be applied to other international negotiations where asymmetry between developed and developing parties justifies special efforts to ensure trade liberalisation works in favour of sustainable human development.
The presentation today of the European Commission communication on the EU’s future Development Policy is timely given that Europe is trying to reconnect with its people. With nine out of ten Europeans believing that helping people in poor countries is important they hope that the EU will provide leadership in building a better, more inclusive world which honours shared values and recognises shared responsibilities. “Ordinary European people do demonstrate their solidarity with victims of disaster and injustice, as shown in the spontaneous and overwhelming response to the Indian Ocean tsunami,” said Simon Stocker, Director of Eurostep. “These expressions of solidarity underline the need for the EU to work for a fairer world in which injustices and inequalities are abolished, women empowered, human rights respected and the environment protected”.