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Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

September 2018
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EDITO
Tuesday, 25 September 2018
“The General Report on the activities of the European Union 2004” gives an overview of the Union’s main achievements in 2004. It gives an overview which highlights key events and trends and shows how the institutions have gone about achieving the main political objectives of the Union. For specialised readers, a separate volume provides the rest of the detailed information on a sector-by-sector basis. Some points interesting our ACP audience are:

1. Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

- A new action plan was drawn up to help developing countries reduce their dependency on agricultural commodities, improve their export performance and reduce their vulnerability to price fluctuations. The EU will adopt a strategy to support the cotton sector in Africa aimed at obtaining fairer trade conditions on international cotton markets and making the cotton sector in African countries more competitive (see frollowing news on the cotton sector an CTA support).
- Over 1.1 billion people worldwide have no access to safe drinking water and about 2.4 billion people lack adequate sanitation. In response to this situation, the EU approved the creation of a new European water facility to improve access to water and sanitation for people in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. EUR 500 million from the reserve of the ninth EDF has been earmarked for this initiative.
- The Commission proposed an innovative approach to tackling the problem of illegal logging and the related trade in illegally harvested timber. It involves promoting good management through voluntary partnerships with timber-producing countries and setting up a legally binding licensing scheme with partner countries to ensure that only legal timber from these countries is allowed into the EU.

2. Relations with third countries and regional groupings


- Concerning relations with the 78 countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific region (ACP), implementation of the Cotonou agreement, which entered into force in 2003, is now up to speed. Mozambique’s accession to the protocol on ACP sugar was approved, but a similar request by Burkina Faso was rejected. The Council adopted negotiating directives for the five-year review of the Cotonou agreement, which was signed in 2000.
- On trade relations, negotiations were opened with all ACP regions with a view to concluding economic partnership agreements to replace the trade provisions of the Cotonou agreement as from 2008.
- On the institutional front, the 10 new EU Member States went straight into action: within just a few days of enlargement, their representatives took part in the annual meeting of the ACP–EC Council of Ministers. The Commission held its first joint meeting with its African Union counterpart, created in 2003.
- On the bilateral front, the possibility of suspending application of certain elements of the Cotonou agreement following consultations with partner countries, as provided for in Article 96 of the agreement in the event of infringements against human rights, democratic principles or the rule of law, was invoked against certain ACP countries, notably Zimbabwe and Côte d’Ivoire. The suspension was lifted, however, in the case of Guinea-Bissau, as the Union wanted to normalise relations in view of the positive measures taken by the government. Relations are also in the process of being normalised with Haiti.
This note provides an update on the implementation of the EU-Africa Cotton Partnership, which was agreed by the EU and African countries in July 2004. At the Paris forum (5-6 July, 2004), the EU and African countries agreed on a cotton partnership and a joint cotton action plan. It addresses both the trade and the development components of the Partnership. The seven areas of the action plan are: 1. International trade; 2. National & regional cotton strategies; 3. Policies & institutions; 4. Technological innovation; 5. Risk management & finance; 6. Chain integration; and 7. Coordination. An overview by area is annexed to this note (see also www.cotton-forum.org).
A joint ACP-EU cotton steering committee has been established to monitor the development part of the Action Plan adopted at the Paris Cotton Forum , July 2004. Its priority tasks are to oversee the mobilisation of financial resources, to stimulate the implementation of agreed actions, to coordinate and to disseminate the information. Furthermore, it will periodically consult on progress with a larger group of public and private sectors from the EU and Africa. The Committee is chaired by the Ambassador of Benin, representing the ACP Group on cotton. The EU is represented by the Commission (DG Development and EuropeAid) and one EU cotton donor country (France). Stakeholders are represented at the level of farmers, ginners and manufacturing. Other members are the ACP-Secretariat, UEMOA (representing African regional organisations), CTA and CDE.
Friday, 11 March 2005
The European Commission and the Council issued a joint Statement on EC Development Policy (DPS) in November 2000. The purpose of this study is to assess the extent to which the EC’s Development policy has been put into effect over the four years of its existence, consider what impact it has had and to identify any bottlenecks that might have impeded the implementation of the policy it lays out. The overall assessment of the study is generally positive. The DPS is seen as a valuable document which performs a variety of useful roles for different stakeholders. It compares satisfactorily with similar statements from other donors and it was well accepted by the development community including the DAC.

The study noted that the DPS is more frequently referred to in the ACP region than in other regions in EC policy documents across regions. There was a widespread view that the DPS has done a lot to raise the profile of the poverty focus and most respondents agreed that this needed to remain the primary objective of EC development cooperation. However, poverty reduction was not always found to be the main concern in all the country strategies examined and there is a feeling that the way the DPS approaches poverty is most appropriate for the ACP countries and less so for several others.

Based on the study’s findings the research team developed 4 options for the revision of the DPS: (i)to review and update the current DPS. One key choice will however have to be made on whether to fix focal areas or leave that to be determined at the country level; (ii) to opt for a statement close to the high-level policy end of the spectrum and focus on a number of key objectives such as poverty reduction and the MDG, but also consider how development can most usefully interact with the other EU external action policies; (iii) to go to the other end of the scale and seek to develop a statement that is more detailed and practical and gives practitioners more guidance for implementation; (iv) to combine the second and third options and produce both a high level statement and a matching, more detailed, multiannual strategy.
The review of the DPS will open up the question of the complementarity of EC aid with that of the Member States.

The consultants team included experts from Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM); the Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales (ICEI) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI.
The Commission today adopted a communication that reports on risk and crisis management tools available in the Member States and at EU level. The document also looks at possible new measures to help farmers in the European Union manage risk and to provide an improved response to crises in the agricultural sector. Three options - agricultural insurance, mutual funds and an income crisis tool - are presented for discussion. Recent reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) encourage European farmers to be more market orientated. However, crises caused by natural disasters, livestock diseases or plant pests, or economic circumstances, may endanger a farm’s viability or even affect the economic stability of an entire rural area.

The Communication identifies three options for encouraging the development of risk management tools at EU level and providing an improved response in the event of crisis:
- Option 1 explores the possibility of contributing to the payment of premiums, where farmers take insurance against natural disasters, extreme weather conditions or disease. The role of reinsurance is also considered.
- Option 2 encourages the development of mutual funds for agriculture, by granting temporary and degressive support for the funds’ administration.
- Option 3 puts forward the idea of new instruments to provide basic coverage in the event of income crises.
In presenting these options, the Commission’s aim is to help farm businesses withstand temporary shocks and improve their access to finance for developing their activities. Any new measures would be in line with the principles of the reformed CAP and would be compatible with WTO requirements.

Although this applies to the EU context, ACP farmers face the same problems, if not more serious, in terms of price volatility and natural disasters. Some ACP countries are considering the risk management tools for some commodities such as cotton.
Wednesday, 09 March 2005
It is often said that 'the latest technologies always reach the rural poor last'. When we consider the remarkable improvements made in new biological and information technologies in the past decades, this saying seems quite justified. Additionally today there is a 'digital divide' that adversely affects women who make up the majority of the rural poor in developing countries. Compared to men, rural women in African, the Caribbean and the Pacific regions are much less likely to access new agricultural technologies because they are generally less educated and hold less economic and political power relative to men. Women however, play a major role in agricultural production and rural livelihoods. Gender issues are therefore fundamental concerns for agriculture, food security and rural development and inevitably, the role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in these areas.

In 2002, through a set of initiatives CTA ensured that gender would be taken into account in its work to make information and communication for agriculture and rural development more accessible and beneficial for ACP nations. These efforts have started to build valuable capacity within CTA, and new and important partnerships within and among the ACP regions. The 5th CTA Observatory Meeting, ‘Gender and Agriculture in the Information Society’, was a major step forward in creating a dialogue among ACP countries and with other regions of the world on the role of ICTs in helping rural women overcome the obstacles that they experience daily in their lives as farmers, entrepreneurs and agents of community and national development. These efforts are supported by a continuous work on the economic, legal and institutional environment which affects women in rural areas.