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White Band on the European Commission Headquarters in Brussels

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Wednesday, 15 June 2005

White Band on the European Commission Headquarters in Brussels

What is the Global Call to Action Against Poverty?

The white band is the symbol of the “Global Call to Action against Poverty” (GCAP) the largest ever worldwide mobilization of citizens, organisations, networks and national campaigns committed to eradicating extreme poverty (see http://www.whiteband.org/ for details). All European countries have national campaigns with GCAP activities in 2005.

What does the Campaign want?

The Global Call to Action Against Poverty in 2005 is focused on three key issues: trade justice, debt cancellation and a major increase in the quantity and quality of aid. The campaign is built around a mass mobilisation of people. Events are happening across the globe and throughout the year and there are three headline ‘white band days’ linked to the key events in 2005: 1st July: G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, 10th September: UN five year review of the Millennium Development Goals in New York, USA, 10th December: WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong, China. The period around each white band day will be marked by mass worldwide mobilizations of citizens to demonstrate their support for the Global Call to Action Against Poverty.

Why is the European Commission putting up a white band now?

Central to the success of the GCAP campaign are the Commission’s proposals for increased development aid which EU leaders should agree at the European Council this week. But with the debate on the constitution and EU budget the main issues on the agenda, the white band on the Berlaymont is designed to send a powerful reminder to EU leaders to give the ambitious aid proposals their full support. Because of a sequence of international events, 2005 is a unique year of opportunity for development. White band launches on well known buildings across the EU are also designed to raise awareness in national capitals and amongst people across the world that there is a real opportunity for change.

How big is the aid increase the Commission is asking for?

The European Union’s Overseas Development Aid for 2005 will be €46 billion - making the European Union the biggest donor of overseas aid in the world. In April this year, the Commission brought forward new proposals on Finance for Development as part of the preparations for the New York UN Summit in September which will review progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. The proposals set new and ambitious aid targets for EU Member States - a new intermediate target for development aid of 0.56 per cent of gross national income by 2010 - which would put Europe on course to reach, by 2015, the UN’s 0.7 per cent target. In practical terms the new proposals would increase EU development aid to €66 billion in 2010, rising to more than 90 billion Europe in 2015. The plans will also improve the coherence and quality of EU development policies, and make Africa a priority for all EU aid actions.

Why does the European Summit in Brussels matter for development?

The proposed aid increase is due to be given final approval when EU leaders meet in Brussels for the European Summit this week (16 / 17 June).. An agreement on aid at the Summit would represent a very significant achievement in itself. It is would also be a very important milestone on the road to the G8 summit in July. It will send President Barroso - who will attend the G8 to speak on behalf of the European Commission - to the table with a very powerful message about the level of ambition the EU expects from its global partners for renewed action to reach the Millennium Development Goals.