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July 2019
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Tuesday, 23 July 2019
Speech by Ben Bradshaw (UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Nature Conservation and Fisheries), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), President of the Council, before the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament.
Some extracts of interest for the ACP countries:
The British Presidency has 3 aims :
Firstly, on fish stocks to:
- promote appropriate and effective measures to restore and maintain healthy fish stocks, especially through their long-term management; and
- protect vulnerable marine species and habitats, especially by promoting the further integration of environmental considerations into fisheries management.
Secondly, to improve decision-making under the Common Fisheries Policy with greater involvement of partners and a more regional focus, including by promoting the work of the new Regional Advisory Councils.
Thirdly, on legislation to :
- simplify fisheries legislation in ways that are consistent with environmental and international development objectives, and
- promote fair, consistent and effective enforcement particularly within the opportunities provided by the new Community Fisheries Control Agency and the Commission's communication on the simplification of the Common Fisheries Policy.
Particular importance to fisheries partnership agreements with third countries is given, which account for over half of the funding in the above proposal. These agreements are very much as a litmus test of the European Union's commitment to meeting our international objectives on sustainable development and to ensuring policy coherence towards developing countries, especially in Africa.
Poverty eradication for all developing countries in line with the UN Millennium Development Goals will be the core of the European Union development policy, according to proposals announced by the European Commission. Under plans for the bloc's new development policy, the European Union highlights the importance of the partnership with developing countries and the promotion of good governance, human rights and democracy. It also stresses the role of civil society and tackles conflict situations and failed states. The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union (EU), sets development as a key element of the EU's external action along with the common foreign and security policy and trade policy, and explores links with these and other related policy areas such as migrations, environment and employment. The Commission says the proposals also recognise that the EU's relations with each external partner are ”unique” and require an individual ”policy mix” of aid, trade and other policies “tailored to the needs of each partnership.”
“Last month, the European Council reached an important agreement on the Commission's proposals to increase our development aid. To do more is essential, but we also need to do better. Since development is an area where competence is shared by the Union and its 25 member states, this requires a strategy based on coordination and harmonization. If we really want to make poverty history, we have to act together,” Michel said. Michel also favors a system which would allow the aid activities of several member states to be merged, with one of them taking the lead.
EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel told reporters the Commission would finalize its proposals after a meeting with the African Union in October and seek to have them approved by European governments the following month. He said the EU also needed to link its development aid more to promoting good governance, human rights and democracy. Relations with developing nations should also focus more on security, migration, trade and environmental protection, the EU said.
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Report of the Conference on Public Awareness Raising and Development Education for North-South Solidarity is now available. The importance of Development Education (DE) as a means of promoting the essential EU values of tolerance and solidarity in an increasingly global, interdependent and multicultural society, was emphasised. Most speakers insisted on the need for DE to build solid support for the increase in public expenditure on development aid -necessary if EU Member States are to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) of halving extreme poverty by 2015.
Suggesting that 2005 could be considered the international year for development, Commissioner Louis Michel and Minister Schiltz recalled other major milestones for the EU and international development cooperation policy this year: (i) the recent publication of three communications by the European Commission (EC), addressing, among other issues, the need for EU Member States to increase their budget allocation to development co-operation - with intermediate targets to be reached by 2010 – in order for the EU to move in the direction of the stated average target of 0.7% of ODA by 2015 and 0.33% for the EU-10; (ii) the public debate on the revision of the EU development co-operation policy priorities and the subsequent reformulation of the Development Policy Statement, to take into account the MDGs; (iii) the meeting of the Council of General Affairs and External Relations, gathering Development Ministers and addressing some of those points, two days after the conference; (iv) the G-8 Summit in July, addressing the issue of poor countries’ debt cancellation. Some immediate outcomes materialised in the wake of the conference and promising initiatives were launched. Within official circles,EU Directors- General for Development Co-operation took good note of the conference recommendations at their meeting of 2-3 June 2005. The Task Force “Enlargement & Development”, coordinated by the EC, endorsed the conference recommendations at its meeting on 10 June 2005. Besides, this Task Force has proposed that discussions take place at the level of CODEV, the working group within the EU Council in charge of development issues. The issue of Development Education was introduced in the new Development Policy Statement of the EC. A group of representative stakeholders is about to be established to ensure the follow-up of the conference and possibly organise further meetings and discussions. The Chair of the EP Development Committee has offered to draft in 2006 an own initiative report on “Public Awareness and Development Education for North-South Solidarity in the European Union”. Stefano Manservisi, Director-General of the EC DG-Development concluded the conference debates by reiterating his support for the process and highlighting the recommendations, which he was prepared to implement.
Saturday, 16 July 2005
Both ”incomplete” and ”too radical”: the sugar reform proposed by the European Commission left a bitter taste for MEPs and stakeholders on Wednesday. In the first EP public hearing to follow Commissioner Mariann FISCHER BOEL’s presentation of the reform of the Common Market Organisation on Sugar, there was broad consensus that the social aspects of the package needed to be strengthened, while trade with non-EU sugar producing countries had to be reviewed to avoid fraudulent sales.

Agriculture Committee rapporteur on sugar Jean-Claude FRUTEAU (PES, FR) was unhappy that some points made by Parliament in its March resolution were missing from the Commission’s proposal. ”The proposed reform focuses too much on competitiveness and largely ignores the social consequences,” he said. Mr Fruteau also argued that the Commission had failed to find new uses for sugar surpluses: ”In the long term we will have to look for alternative energy sources. In this instance, why not turn to sugar to produce bio fuels? Yet the Commissioner hasn't come up with anything new on this".
On 22 June, Commissioner Fischer Boel unveiled her plans for reform which include subsidy cuts as high as 39% for producers, as well as sweeteners for those who leave the industry and compensation for ACP countries. Failure to reform the sector could lead to its ”slow and painful death”, she argued. The sugar sector is the only Common Market Organisation which has remained unreformed since the inception of the Common Agriculture Policy.

Sugar producers and MEPs up in arms
There was criticism across the board from stakeholders, who all deemed the reform ”too radical”. Hubert CHAVANNES, of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers (CIBE), argued that the Commission Proposal was "too drastic in terms of reducing production and prices and it doesn't ensure the sustainability of the sector". He claimed that "the Commission is doing too little about the import problem and it has abandoned any expectation of export”. Ricardo SERRA-ARIAS, Vice-President of the Committee of Agricultural Organisations in the EU (COPA), called for the rejection of the proposal, as "it has confirmed the sector’s most pessimistic predictions". In his opinion, "it lacks solidarity, as it creates a major division between producers". Most Members of the Agriculture Committee shared those views. Georgios PAPASTAMKOS (EPP-ED, GR) felt the reform was drafted by the Commission ”from its ivory tower, without any form of consultation”. Agriculture Committee vice-chair Janusz WOJCIECHOWSKI (EPP-ED, PL) called for an ”impact study to be run by the Commission before implementing such a far-reaching reform”, whereas Marìa Isabel SALINAS GARCIA (PES, ES) and Agnes SCHIERHUBER (EPP-ED, AT) respectively dubbed it ”disproportionate” and ”with no structure”.Among the rare supporters of the reform, the director of the European Consumers Organisation BEUC, Jim MURRAY, stressed that it finally put an end to the dumping of EU sugar on world markets. Also, he pointed out that ”consumers should not pay to maintain the sugar industry in twenty one Member States when production in ten or fifteen countries could suffice.” Industrial Users of Sugar representatives Alain BEAUMONT and David ZIMMER also felt that the reform was much needed as ”companies who act in a competitive market should be able to buy raw material at a competitive price."

Tackling external issues
Sugar rapporteur Jean-Claude Fruteau also argued that there were blatant shortcomings in the "Everything But Arms" provisions (EBA: duty free and quota free access for the least developed countries), which do not address the possible resale of sugar by non-EU countries at EU-guaranteed prices. Jean-Louis BARJOL, of the European Confederation of Sugar producers, saw the EBA shortcomings as a ”Trojan horse”, likely to wreak havoc on the European industry if limitations are not introduced. ”EBA aspects of the reform need to be revisited”, argued Alain LIPIETZ (Greens/EFA, FR).
Reform of the sugar CMO also affects those ACP countries linked to the EU by the Sugar Protocol, annexed to the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement. Arvin BOOLELL, representing Mauritius, and Derrick HEAVEN, president of the Sugar Industry Authority of Jamaica, stressed that, without substantial EU support, the consequences of the reform would be "disastrous for the economic and social fabric" of their countries, which are among the most affected by the reform. Stefan TANGERMANN of the OECD recognised that some ACP countries would lose out, but he said they should not block the reform. These countries could also ultimately benefit from the changes, since, "the arrangements with ACP countries are understandable for historical reasons, but they make the countries dependent[on the EU]" while financial aid would achieve better results. Alison BURROWS, the representative of Australia, also supported the reform, arguing that the existing system was not all that favourable for developing countries. She gave the example of Colombia, which suffered from competition with the EU, and which was strongly supporting the reform.
Wrapping up the hearing, Agriculture Committee chairman Joseph DAUL (EPP-ED, FR) warned that "all the EP committees concerned will duly assess the reform but if uncertainty persists about its financing, they will be left with a difficult job”.
Friday, 15 July 2005
2672nd Council Meeting
Economic and Financial Affairs
Brussels, 12 July 2005
The Council adopted, by qualified majority, a decision fixing the second instalment of financial contributions for 2005 to the European Development Fund (EDF).
A total amount of EUR 750 million, corresponding to the second instalment for 2005, will be paid by the 15 member states previous to the EU's enlargement, to finance EDF operations managed by the Commission, for aid projects in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and member state overseas countries and territories. In addition, EUR 250 million will be paid to the European Investment Bank.