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[CTA - Brussels Office Newsletter N° 265]
Subject: [CTA - Brussels Office Newsletter N° 265]
Send date: 2011-03-25 19:24:53
Issue #: 81
Content:
Bulletin CTA
1

This weblog shares information on key ACP-EU programmes and events
from Brussels relevant to agriculture and rural development in ACP countries.


Date : [DATE]
CTA Brussels Newsletter

 

Main events in the week
  1. Brussels Briefing on “The water we eat”
  2. Live coverage of the European Forum on Rural Development in Palencia
  3. Report and Reader of “Geopolitics of Food” online
  4. Main events for the week from 28/03 to 01/04/2011
  5. Our video guest: Jean-Pierre Boris, RFI
  6. Foreign Ministers in favor of Sahel strategy
  7. Commissioners Piebalgs and Barnier advocate green growth in Africa
  8. ACP Health Report: More problems than progress
  9. Zimbabwe: Germany to call for end to sanctions
  10. Ivory Coast crisis threatens regional economy
  11. The EU finances a five-year El Nino study in PNG
  12. Africa: Presidents, investors to talk business in Africa
  13. CARIFORUM countries to participate in training on integrated environment assessment
  14. The Caribbean needs awareness of a changing Europe
  15. EU Trade Commissioner tours Oceania
  16. Europe refuses to cap agricultural subsidies
  17. Brussels wants no oil-fuelled cars in cities by 2050
  18. European companies turn to eco-innovation to tackle rising input costs
  19. New study on the coherence of trade policies in West Africa
  20. Developing countries fear being duped by green economy
  21. Trade Committee's Vital Moreira: Europe could not live without trade
  22. Water scarcity and droughts a growing challenge to Member States
  23. EC launches €40 million to improve water access in ACP countries
  24. EU novel food regulation review at risk
  25. Forests are key for high quality water supply
  26. Major increase in EC funding for victims of Côte d'Ivoire crisis


  1. Brussels Briefing on “The water we eat”
    2011-03-25
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade, Rural development, Environment, Food Security, Archive

    We cordially invite you to our next briefing on the “Water we eat: Challenges and opportunities for ACP in times of scarcity”, to be held on Wednesday, April 13th from 8.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Brussels. The world is on the brink of an unprecedented water crisis. Water is likely to be the most important strategic resource by the end of the next decade and the key to achieving global economic development. Some countries are already under water stress as a result of population increase, industrialization and urbanization, competition of resources, and insufficient public spending for rural infrastructure and services. In our Brussels Briefing, we will raise these issues and talk about the challenges and opportunities for ACP countries in times of water scarcity. Confirmed speakers include Dr Elijah Phiri, CAADP/NEPAD, Dr David Molden (IWMI), Tony Allan, School of Oriental and African Studies / King’s College London Water Issues Group, Ruth Mathews, Executive Director of the Water Footprint Network. If you are interested in participating, kindly register online or contact boto@cta.


    Link Read more
    Link Past Briefings
    Link UNESCO: Water


  2. Live coverage of the European Forum on Rural Development in Palencia
    2011-03-25
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade, Rural development, Environment, Archive, Food Security

    The 3rd European Forum on Sustainable Development will be held in Palencia, Spain from  29th March-1st April 2011. This forum is an initiative by the European Commission and EU Presidency with the support of France, Germany, Ireland, the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development and CTA. Around 500 experts in rural development form all around the world will be attending. CTA is preparing a side-event under the theme “ICTs Mobilizing Farmers” which will highlight the importance and potential of ICTs in rural communities and agricultural development. To follow the discussions and to participate, visit the live blog at http://ruralforum.wordpress.com, where you find updated articles and video interviews. Besides, receive recent Twitter updates by following the hashtag #ruralforum.


    Link Visit the blog
    Link Visit the Forum homepage
    Link Read the programme


  3. Report and Reader of “Geopolitics of Food” online
    2011-03-25
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade, Rural development, Environment, Food Security

    In February, the CTA in cooperation with DG DEVCO, the ACP Secretariat, CONCORD and other partners organized a Briefing on the “Geopolitics of Food”. Next to the full video documentation of the event, a comprehensive conference report and a topical reader are now available at http://brusselsbriefings.net. Have a look and download your copy today. Our next briefing on 13 April will be about the “Water we eat”.


    Link Brussels Development Briefings
    Link Geopolitics of Food Conference Report
    Link Geopolitics of Food Reader


  4. Main events for the week from 28/03 to 01/04/2011
    2011-03-25
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade, Rural development, Aid effectiveness, Environment, Archive, Regional Fisheries, Food Security

    European Parliament
    -28 March: Agriculture Committee meeting
    -31 March: Budget and Industry Committee meeting
    European Commission
    -28/29 March: Commissioners Piebalgs and Barnier in Ethiopia
    -30 March: Weekly College Meeting
    Council of Ministers
    -31 March: Council on Transport, Communication, Energy
    ACP Secretariat
    -28 March: Joint ACP-EC Trade Cooperation Subcommittee
    -31 March: Committee of Ambassadors

    You can also read our newspaper “CTA Brussels Daily” (fed by our Twitter account), follow our new Facebook group CTABrussels and our Twitter account CTABrussels to receive up-to-date information on EU-ACP events.


    Link European Parliament
    Link Council of Ministers
    Link ACP Secretariat


  5. Our video guest: Jean-Pierre Boris, RFI
    2011-03-25
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade, Rural development, Regional Fisheries, Food Security

    Our guest of the week is Jean-Pierre Boris, journalist at Radio France Internationale (RFI), specialized in commodities. We spoke to him in the margin of a panel debate on "Geopolitics of Food" that the CTA organized in cooperation with DG DEVCO, Concord and the ACP Secretariat on February 2nd in Brussels.


    Link Watch the video
    Link Film: Main basse sur le riz
    Link Radio France Internationale (RFI)


  6. Foreign Ministers in favor of Sahel strategy
    2011-03-25
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade, Rural development, Environment

    At the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, ministers endorsed the Sahel strategy presented by the High Representative and the European Commission. They reiterated that “security and development cannot be separated; improving the security situation is integral to economic growth and the reduction of poverty in the region”. The Council is in favor of the strategy’s proposal to initially focus on Mali, Mauretania and Niger and on four development strands, namely development, good governance and internal conflict resolution, security and rule of law, and countering violent extremism. Ministers also stressed their commitment to continue working in partnership with regional and international bodies such as the African Union and ECOWAS to work towards the defined objectives. The Council also expressed its “continued deep concern about the political, security, development and humanitarian situation in Somalia, including the resulting increase in the number of displaced people.”

    Source: CTA/Council of Ministers


    Link Read more
    Link Council Conclusions
    Link European Commission Green Paper


  7. Commissioners Piebalgs and Barnier advocate green growth in Africa
    2011-03-25
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade, Environment

    In the context of the joint EU-Africa Strategic partnership, Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development, and Michel Barnier Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, will attend the annual joint meeting of the Ministers of Finance and Economy of the African Union and of the UN Economic Commission for Africa on 28th and 29th March in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). The core topic of the meeting will be about "Governing Development in Africa", including discussions on the role of the State, long term prospects for sustainable development through economic integration and green growth. The Commissioners will confirm EU readiness to support Africa's endeavours towards good governance of the economy at national and regional level, a fairly redistributed and environmentally-friendly growth, and a common agenda in the global economic governance. Commissioners will also meet with Jean Ping, President of the African Union, to discuss notably recent developments in North Africa and in Ivory Coast, as well as to prepare the future of EU-African relations. They will also meet with African Union Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra to discuss peace and security issues, notably in Somalia and Ivory Coast.

    Source: European Commission


    Link Read more
    Link Background note
    Link African Union (AU)


  8. ACP Health Report: More problems than progress
    2011-03-25
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : Archive

    In recent years, the progress recorded in developing countries in terms of health makes gloomy reading. There is progress here and there, but the overall results are rather worrying. In this global overview the ACP countries are generally to be found in the low-to-average range, if one is to believe the UN report prepared before the September 2010 summit on the Millennium Development Goals. In comparison with the situation in 1990, three of the goals to attain between 2000 and 2015 are health-related: among them a two-thirds reduction in mortality among children under five, a three-quarters reduction in maternal mortality, and an end to the spread of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Infant mortality has experienced a net decrease, but the goal set is still far from being achieved. The number of women dying in childbirth is a more glaring failure, with almost no decline at all. As regards the fight against the three major infectious diseases mentioned above, there have been partial successes.

    Source: ACP-EU Courier


    Link Read more
    Link EU Health Portal
    Link Read the UN Report


  9. Zimbabwe: Germany to call for end to sanctions
    2011-03-25
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade, Aid effectiveness

    Germany's director-general of African Affairs, Ambassador Walter Lindner, has said his country will push for an end to the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe once there is a roadmap to free and fair elections. He said this during a meeting with Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi on Monday in Berlin. […] On sanctions, Ambassador Lindner said his government's desire to have the European Union sanctions on Zimbabwe lifted. However, he said Germany would push once there was a clear roadmap to free and fair elections. In response Minister Mzembi expressed gratitude for Germany's increasingly constructive stance of the issue of sanctions. Recently, Germany's Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Dr Albrecht Conze, said the EU was divided on the legality of the widely-discredited sanctions. Minister Mzembi strongly urged Germany to dissociate itself from the sanctions without setting any preconditions as this was the only beneficial route for ordinary Zimbabweans.

    Source: allafrica.com


    Link Read more
    Link EU Delegation to Zimbabwe
    Link EU renews Zimbabwe sanctions (18 Feb)


  10. Ivory Coast crisis threatens regional economy
    2011-03-25
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade, Rural development, Regional Fisheries

    The economic recovery in West Africa is under threat from the crisis in Ivory Coast, according to the IMF. In an analysis of the region, the IMF expresses concern that events in Ivory Coast could have a negative impact on the economies of other member states in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS: Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Mail, Niger, Senegal and Togo). All ECOWAS members appear to have recovered their level of growth to that of before the global economic crisis. Furthermore, the IMF predicts that economic activity in the region will reach 4.5 percent this year, compared with 4 percent in 2010 and 3 percent in 2009. Since the sudden hike in food and energy prices in 2007-08, successful reflationary policies, satisfactory agricultural production and the resurgence of activity in Guinea Bissau and Togo, the region had seemed to be on the road to economic recovery. And yet the Ivorian crisis threatens to overturn all these gains. A fall in production in Ivory Coast to the level of 2000 would reduce regional growth to less than 3 percent, which would lead to a reduction in per capita income and thus increase poverty.

    Source: Radio France Internationale


    Link Read more
    Link ECOWAS
    Link Increase in EU Humanitarian Aid


  11. The EU finances a five-year El Nino study in PNG
    2011-03-24
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : Archive, Rural development, Environment

    A strong  El Nino event is due next year and may bring severe drought conditions to most parts of Papua New Guinea and it will be severe than  those experienced in 1997. Director General of the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) Dr Raghunath Ghodake made the observation at the launch of a five-year research project aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change on food security and livelihoods in vulnerable areas of PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. He said climate change was a global problem and PNG was like any other country faced with it and the most imminent risk was the increased frequency of strong El Nino events and the severe drought conditions it would bring to most parts of the country. It is understood this project will try to determine agricultural technologies to alleviate climate change risks to food production in Western Pacific countries. […] The National learnt that the project is funded by European Union (EU) to the tune of K10.4 million and implemented by NARI, who contributed 20% in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Solomon Islands department of agriculture and rural development, Vanuatu and the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria. Head of the delegation of the European Union to PNG, Ambassador Dr Martin Dihm said it was very important to look at sustainable agricultural development in PNG. He revealed that EU prioritised climate change in PNG and he called on partners to foster more agricultural investment to alleviate the risks of climate change.

    Source: pina.com.fj


    Link Read more
    Link EU Delegation to PNG
    Link EU-Pacific Climate Change Conference


  12. Africa: Presidents, investors to talk business in Africa
    2011-03-24
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade

    Some 100 top African business executives have gathered in London for a unique summit to discuss international exposure to investment opportunities on the continent. Organised by The Times newspaper, the meeting at which Rwandan President Paul Kagame will give an opening keynote address on 'From Genocide to Growth', aims to explore ways of improving the business environment in Africa. The World Bank has in the past two consecutive years named Rwanda, which suffered massacre in 1994, as having the best climate for doing business in East Africa. […] Organisers hope Western investors will have a correct, better view of Africa at the end of the summit which will showcase the investment potential available, contrasting the continent's image of misery and suffering based on mainly media reports.

    Source: allafrica.com


    Link Read more
    Link Eurostat: EU-Africa investment
    Link Government of Rwanda


  13. CARIFORUM countries to participate in training on integrated environment assessment
    2011-03-24
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : Aid effectiveness, Environment, Archive

    The Caribbean Community Secretariat is moving to train some of the Region’s senior policy makers and analysts in the use of Integrated Environmental Assessments as a tool for mainstreaming Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) into national development policies. […] The three-day workshop which commences on Wednedsay, March 29 is part of the European Union funded project on Capacity Building Related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Countries, which is being implemented by the CARICOM Secretariat in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The training programme targets senior policy makers and their analysts from CARIFORUM Countries, and is aimed at strengthening their capacity to understand and extract key messages from IEAs to achieve priority environmental outcomes. Participants will also be provided with guidelines for mainstreaming MEAs commitments and obligations into national policies, plans and programmes using IEAs as the main instrument. This could ensure the sustained and effective implementation of MEAs while reducing the burden of implementation on countries.

    Source: CARICOM


    Link Read more
    Link ACP MEAs Project Launches New Website
    Link European Forum on Environmental Assessment


  14. The Caribbean needs awareness of a changing Europe
    2011-03-24
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade, Aid effectiveness, Regional Fisheries

    How well does the Caribbean relate to the European Union? In a region that still sees Europe as the source of development assistance, has not fully erased a belief in special arrangements for commodities and is dubious about the value of the Economic Partnership Agreement, there seems little awareness of the ways in which Europe is changing. Last week in Brussels the Caribbean Tourism Organisation held its annual summit. This forward-looking and positive event, attended by Ministers, Ambassadors, Caricom and the private sector, was important as it sought to focus European and Caribbean minds on the significance of the tourism industry, when it comes to shaping future EU-Cariforum policy. The dialogue covered areas as diverse as the environment, taxation, social policy, economic recovery and marketing; but what was also of interest was the way in which interlocutors on the European side demonstrated how significantly European thinking was changing. Traditionally the relationship between Europe and the Caribbean was managed through a bilateral dialogue with the European Commission’s Development Directorate or multilaterally in conjunction with the African Caribbean and Pacific group of states (the ACP). However, this began to change in the 1990s when the trade aspects of the relationship were removed to Europe’s Trade Directorate. For a while the exchanges on trade issues were sympathetic if tough. However, as the personnel changed and more importantly Europe through the Trade Directorate sought ways to end the preferential arrangements with the ACP, EC officials with little sensitivity or knowledge of former colonial relationships began to prevail. The consequence was that the link between trade and development began to attenuate.

    Source: dominicantoday.com


    Link Read more
    Link Knowledge sharing in the Caribbean
    Link EU-Caribbean Partnership


  15. EU Trade Commissioner tours Oceania
    2011-03-23
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade, Regional Fisheries

    Last Thursday European Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht ended the Australian leg of his Oceania tour, which he began on 13 March, covering Malaysia, Australia, New Zeeland and Papua New Guinea. […] During a short stopover in Papua New Guinea, which is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum and the ACP group of countries, Mr de Gucht is scheduled to meet government representatives to discuss the recent decision to adopt an interim version of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA). EPAs now serve to regulate trade between ACP countries and the EU, and replace the Lomé Convention and the Cotonou Agreement, which promoted the subsidized purchasing of commodities from countries in the south. However, the practice of subsidizing trade violates new rules by the WTO. […] The key resources in countries such as Papua New Guinea and Fiji are linked to the mining sector (oil, gold, copper, bauxite and underwater nodules) as well as the fishing sector (especially tuna fishing) in their territorial waters. Only recently has tuna from Fiji been allowed access to European markets after a two-year hiatus due to non-compliance with European rules. The EU has just launched the second phase of its DevFish programme in Oceania with 8.2 million euros of funding from the European Development Funds over the next five years. The programme aims to improve management of tuna stocks, as well as promoting the fight against illegal and unreported fishing, which is on the rise in the region, especially by ships from Asia.

    Source: tahiti-infos.com


    Link Read more
    Link EU calls on local fishing industry to lift its standards
    Link A new EU framework for the Pacific on the horizon


  16. Europe refuses to cap agricultural subsidies
    2011-03-23
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade, Rural development, Environment

    “[The Presidency] notes the significant opposition of Member States to the introduction of an upper ceiling for direct payments received by large individual farms,” state the conclusions of the meeting. This proposal was one of the cornerstones of the European Commission’s revamped common agricultural policy (CAP), according to a document published last November. Brussels had suggested setting a ceiling on payments to large farms in order to establish “a more balanced distribution of payments among farmers”. According to Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, such a move would give greater credibility to the CAP. The Commission had hoped a ceiling would reduce criticism of the CAP, which is regularly accused of paying out large subsidies to large landowners such as the Queen of England or the Prince of Monaco.

    Source: Euractiv.fr


    Link Read more
    Link EU-WTO connections on agriculture
    Link How the EU could save the Doha round


  17. Brussels wants no oil-fuelled cars in cities by 2050
    2011-03-23
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : Environment, Archive

    The European Commission plans to step up its battle against oil- and gas-fuelled cars, and is drawing up strict targets to halve their urban usage by 2030 and "phase them out by 2050," according to an EU road map on transport to be published on Monday (28 March) and seen by EurActiv. These objectives will play an instrumental role in achieving the more comprehensive target of cutting CO2 emissions from transport by 60% by 2050. Currently, a quarter of EU greenhouse gas emissions come from transport. The Commission is therefore proposing an ambitious plan which eyes significant reductions of emissions especially in road transport, while it intends to increase rail traffic, on the grounds that is by far cleaner and more environment-friendly. The Commission plan targets mainly urban and road freight transport. The objective of car-free cities by mid-century is to be pursued through fiscal measures, promotion of alternative transport systems, and building of the necessary infrastructure to move to a widespread use of electric and clean cars. Taxes and charges should be higher for more polluting vehicles, according to the polluter pays principle. Brussels suggests to review national rules and practices accordingly, where it is not already the case. As a last resort measure, the Commission considers to proceed to “full and mandatory internalisation of external costs.”

    Source: Euractiv


    Link Read more
    Link Commission: Trans-european networks
    Link Commission: Car sharing


  18. European companies turn to eco-innovation to tackle rising input costs
    2011-03-22
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade, Environment, Archive

    The competitiveness of European businesses is increasingly vulnerable to growing materials scarcity which causes price volatility. A Eurobarometer survey published today and presented at the 10th European Forum on Eco-innovation in Birmingham, UK, shows that 75% of European businesses have experienced an increase in material costs in the past five years, while 90% expect price increases in the future. To tackle this challenge, small and medium-sized businesses are looking to eco-innovation as their answer. However, many businesses are still not fully aware of the potential effects of natural resource scarcity on their future operations.  […] More than 40% of SMEs that have introduced an eco-innovation in the last two years said the investment had reduced material use by up to 20% per unit of output. This modest change will clearly need to be stepped up if the EU is to meet its ambitions for raw materials and resource efficiency (see IP/11/122 and IP/11/63). The survey shows that most European SMEs see limited access to materials as an important driver for eco-innovation. At the same time, they identify current and expected future price increases for energy as the most important incentives for eco-innovation. More than 70% of SMEs pointed to the need for good business partners and good access to external information and knowledge, including technology support services to accelerate eco-innovation uptake and development. There are a number of obstacles preventing businesses from investing in eco-innovation. The most significant barriers are linked to economic and financial constraints, notably uncertain demand from the market and the lack of external financing. Public authorities have a crucial role to play in helping SMEs to overcome these barriers and adopt eco-innovation. The Commission supports the uptake of eco-innovation by businesses through various tools including financing. The Commission is planning to put forward an Eco-innovation Action Plan by this summer that will further help business develop and invest in eco-innovation.

    Source: European Commission


    Link Read more
    Link Read the survey
    Link Ressource-efficient Europe Strategy


  19. New study on the coherence of trade policies in West Africa
    2011-03-22
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade

    The French Association de Solidarité et de Coopération Internationale (GRET) conducted a study funded by the Agence Française de Développement on the coherence of trade policies in West Africa. The study is in French but a synthesis presenting the main recommendations has been translated in English. According to GRET, the question of coherence is important at different levels: between national and regional trade policies, between trade policies and sectoral (agricultural, industrial) policies both at the national and regional levels, between regional organisations (WAEMU, ECOWAS), between trade policies and the commitments made by West African States at the WTO. What are the problems related to the coherence of trade policies? What have been the solutions brought so far? What recommendations could be done to strengthen the coherence of trade policies? Those are the main questions the study aims to deal with. The analysis is based on many interviews conducted with the relevant stakeholders (institutional, economic operators) in three countries (Burkina Faso/ WAEMU, Nigeria/ ECOWAS, Senegal) and at the WTO Secretariat. Enjoy your reading and please do not hesitate to contact us for any additional information.

    Source: GRET


    Link Read the study
    Link EU-ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreement
    Link ECOWAS: Water coordination


  20. Developing countries fear being duped by green economy
    2011-03-22
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade, Rural development, Environment

    As global rhetoric on the need to move towards green economy gains ground, developing countries fear that the new discourse could be used to justify unilateral trade protection measures, merely strengthening inequalities between rich and poor nations and hindering their development. A new report on the benefits, challenges and risks of the transition to a 'green economy' was presented last week to national delegations preparing for a major United Nations conference on sustainable development – the so-called 'Rio+20' summit – scheduled to take place in June 2012. […] But "concerns have been raised by developing countries' delegations that the green economy concept may be misused or taken out of context, and that the promotion of the green economy may give rise of unhelpful or negative developments, and these must be avoided," reads the new expert report. […] The first risk concerns defining 'green economy' or putting it into practice in a one-dimensional manner that considers it to be purely "environmental," without fully taking into account its development and equality dimensions, writes Khor. This would mean that the 'green economy' concept would supersede the more holistic sustainable development dimension, with a negative effect on developing countries, he notes. Another danger is a 'one-size-fits-all approach whereby all countries are treated in the same manner, regardless of their stage of development. However, developing countries should be given special treatment and extra flexibility to impose on them more lenient obligations regarding delivering the green economy, Khor stresses.

    Source: Euractiv


    Link Read more
    Link Read the report
    Link Yellow Card for EC's agriculture concessions


  21. Trade Committee's Vital Moreira: Europe could not live without trade
    2011-03-22
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : ACP-EU Trade

    The EU is the world's largest trading bloc but the economic crisis has put strains on the international system. Are open markets still a key to wellbeing? Does multilateralism remain on the agenda - or should it seek more bilateral openings for trade? While 18 MEPs head to Geneva for a Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organisation (21-22 March), a team of the European Parliament spoke with the Chair of the International Trade Committee, Portuguese Socialist Vital Moreira.

    Can EU farm policy be reconciled with the needs of a new world trade deal if the deal means large tariff cuts for agricultural imports?

    Both policies can, should and must be reconciled. Trade deals are about concessions, compromises. You make concessions in order to get something and you cannot exclude this sector from the idea. The only way to evaluate trade agreements is globally - only globally they bring advantages to EU economy, not only industry, services, but also agriculture. I am fully aware of difficulties but we need to have a balanced and a holistic approach to trade.

    Source: European Parliament


    Link Read more
    Link Revising EU trade rules
    Link EP-WTO Parliamentary Conference


  22. Water scarcity and droughts a growing challenge to Member States
    2011-03-22
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : Rural development, Environment, Food Security, Archive

    The European Commission today published a report on Member States' progress in addressing water scarcity and droughts. The balance between water demand and availability has reached a critical level in many areas of Europe, a trend that is expected to become more marked as climate change progresses. In the run up to a major water policy review in 2012, the report presents the water management measures introduced by Member States to tackle water scarcity and droughts and highlights the areas for further action. In 2009-10 water scarcity occurred in much of Southern Europe – due to limited water resources, high demand for water and less rain. The Czech Republic, Cyprus and Malta reported that they faced continuous water scarcity. Five Member States reported droughts or rainfall levels lower than the long term average (France, Hungary, the UK, Portugal and Spain), and four experienced local limited water scarcity occurrences (the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Romania). The report confirms that water scarcity and drought is not limited to Mediterranean countries. Apart from some sparsely-populated northern regions with abundant water resources, this is a growing issue across the EU. Recent studies show that by 2050 most European regions are expected to be under medium or severe water stress – mainly due to unsustainable water use, exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Affected Member States have developed actions to reduce pressure on water resources and restrict water use. In June 2010, the Council of Ministers concluded that water scarcity and drought are a serious problem in many European regions and invited Member States to step up action to promote more efficient and sustainable water use. Today's report shows that many Member States have already adopted policy options such as water pricing, improved water management tools, and water efficiency and saving measures. The report identifies a number of important policy options where more action is required from Member States. For example, very few have introduced legislation to improve water efficiency in buildings. Measures to address illegal water abstraction and losses from water distribution networks are also still lacking in many parts of Europe. The Commission will further address this growing challenge in a review of EU water scarcity and drought policy which will form part of a “Blueprint” for safeguarding Europe's waters scheduled for 2012. The main components of the review, which will focus largely on water efficiency, include:

    • water efficiency in agriculture and the urban environment,

    • better planning, for example by integrating water scarcity and droughts into River Basin Management Plans and sectoral policies, and

    • appropriate implementation instruments, such as water pricing and water allocation.

    The policy review will also address the external dimension of the water scarcity and drought as the EU's considerable water footprint exerts increased pressure on resources outside the EU. The Blueprint will foster a move towards prevention and preparedness with a view to ensuring a sustainable balance between human activities and natural ecosystems. The Commission is carrying out several preparatory activities in view of the 2012 review. Over the next months, the focus will be on filling in the knowledge and data gaps and carrying out an impact assessment. The work will be supported by the outcomes of the assessment of the River Basin Management Plans and the forthcoming Communication on a road map towards a resource efficient economy.

    The report is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/quantity/scarcity_en.htm

    Source: European Commission


    Link Read more
    Link Water use - Powerful countries emerge
    Link Pacific water summits mark World Water Day


  23. EC launches €40 million to improve water access in ACP countries
    2011-03-22
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : Rural development, Aid effectiveness, Environment, Food Security, Archive

    To mark World Water Day on 22 March, whose focus is "Water for Cities – Responding to the Urban Challenge", the EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs announces the launch of a pooling mechanism in the framework of the ACP-EU Water Facility. €40 million are available under this mechanism, which has been created to blend grants from the European Development Fund (EDF) with loans from the EU multilateral and bilateral finance institutions to finance projects for access to water and sanitation services in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. This financial instrument should increase the leverage effect of the financial aid and will trigger private sector participation. It will also contribute to EU support to Developing countries' efforts to reach the MDG for drinking water and sanitation. EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs made the following statement: "For billions of people worldwide, access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation is still a matter of life and death. The "urban theme" of World Water Day 2011 is particularly accurate, because rapid population growth in cities in the developing world is putting additional pressure on infrastructure and services. In the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the international community pledged to provide safe drinking water and sanitation for billions more. Since then, we have made substantial headway. But there must be absolutely no let-up in our efforts to meet these goals. That is why the EU presented the MDG Initiative last year. It will provide an extra €1 billion for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and has a focus on those MDGs that are most off-track, including water and sanitation. The management of water resources affects all sectors that are important for inclusive growth and sustainable development, such as energy generation, agriculture, food security, and the environment. We will therefore prioritise sustainable water management in our future development policy". To respond to the need for increased focus on water in development policies, the EU launched the EU Water Initiative (EUWI) in 2002. It is a political initiative that seeks to assist partner countries in the development and implementation of policies and strategies for the water and sanitation sector. In that framework, the EU and the ACP countries launched the ACP-EU Water Facility in 2004 with €700 million devoted to projects for the period 2005-2013. Since 2004, more than 32 million people have gained access to improved water supply and 9.5 million to sanitation facilities thanks to support from the European Commission. Since 2002, EU support to water–related issues amounts to €1.2 billion. The Neighbourhood Investment Facility and the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership also contribute to fund water-related programmes.

    Source: European Commission


    Link Read more
    Link African Cities Outgrow Their Water Supplies
    Link Briefing on the Water we eat


  24. EU novel food regulation review at risk
    2011-03-21
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : Rural development, Environment, Food Security, Archive

    As talks between the European Parliament and the European Commission to update an EU regulation on novel foods stumble on cloning, the institutions have now two more weeks to find a compromise agreement before the whole review fails on 30 March. Discussions on amending the bloc’s novel foods regulation failed at four o'clock on Thursday morning (17 March), after nine hour marathon talks, amid disagreement over whether or not to ban food from clones and their offspring. The Parliament is calling for the explicit ban of meat produced from cloned animals and their descendants, whereas EU ministers and the Commission back ban on cloning for food production, but reject ban on food from offspring. According to EU conciliation rules, if the two institutions fail to reach an agreement by a 30 March deadline, the whole proposal - on which work began in 2008 - will have to be scrapped.

    Source: Euractiv


    Link Read more
    Link Commission proposal
    Link Ministers discuss banning GM crop cultivation


  25. Forests are key for high quality water supply
    2011-03-21
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : Environment

    By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in regions with absolute water scarcity and two-thirds of the world's population may experience water-stress conditions. Forests capture and store water and can play an important role in providing drinking water for millions of people in the world's mega-cities. Given this fact, the members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), international organizations involved in forests, call upon countries to pay more attention to forest protection and management for the provision of clean water. "Forests are part of the natural infrastructure of any country and are essential to the water cycle", said Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Assistant Director General of the FAO Forestry Department. "They reduce the effects of floods, prevent soil erosion, regulate the water table and assure a high quality water supply for people, industry and agriculture."  He was speaking prior to the UN World Water Day which will be celebrated this year on 22 March.

    Source: FAO

     


    Link Read more
    Link ODI: Where does the future lie for forestry?
    Link EU: International Forest Year


  26. Major increase in EC funding for victims of Côte d'Ivoire crisis
    2011-03-21
    NEWSLETTER_CATEGORIES : Aid effectiveness

    With the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire worsening by the day, the European Commission today increased its humanitarian aid fivefold to the victims of mounting violence. Topping up the emergency assistance allocated in December (see IP/10/1775), the Commission will now provide another €25 million, raising European support to €30 million. The funding will help people in need inside the country, as well as refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries – particularly Liberia, which hosts the largest group of refugees. Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva responsible for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response stated: "The situation is rapidly deteriorating on the ground and this calls for an urgent and strong humanitarian response." She added: "In just a few weeks, the number of refugees has doubled and the number of displaced people has increased five-fold. There are at present an estimated 380,000 displaced persons and refugees. Today's increase in aid will allow us to provide immediate relief to these people many of whom have fled unspeakable violence." The EU is the biggest donor of humanitarian aid to the victims of the Côte d'Ivoire crisis. This new funding will help improve conditions by providing shelter, food assistance, healthcare, water and sanitation, and protection activities, to both people in need inside the country and the refugees beyond the Ivorian borders. By international estimates, over 380,000 Ivoirians have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed the Côte d'Ivoire since mid-December; around 80,000 of them have fled to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. The urgent needs of the locally displaced population and of refugees have been rising sharply, but until now the violence had hindered a full assessment of humanitarian needs. Despite the security risks, which hampers the access of humanitarian workers to people affected by the crisis, the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) is working with its partner relief organisations to identify the most urgent needs and to deliver an efficient European humanitarian response.

    Source: European Commission


    Link Read more
    Link Oxfam help for Ivory Coast
    Link Commission: Ivory Coast



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