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“We need to make commitments to Africa a reality”

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Friday, 16 September 2005

“We need to make commitments to Africa a reality”

European Commission President Barroso made the following remarks at the occasion of a press meeting together with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, musician Sir Bob Geldof and President of Nigeria Obasanjo (G 8 follow up panel) on 15 September in New York:

Firstly, I would like to recognize the drive and determination of those sitting alongside me. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sir Bob Geldof and President Obasanjo have all, in different ways, contributed an enormous amount to putting Africa back on the political map of the developed world.
The task for us now is to keep it there. The G8 in Gleneagles was crucial, both as a process and as an event. As a process because it caught the popular imagination and became a fixed point which Europe could aim at. As an event because it meant that good will could be translated into commitments; on aid and debt especially.
But the key point is this: fighting extreme poverty and disease is not done by words alone. It is done by turning commitments into reality. It is a process, a mentality, not an event.
Europe has already done a great deal. We are the biggest aid donor in the world. We are the most open market in the world. Europe imports 85% of African agricultural exports. Europe is allowing in, without duty or tariffs, all goods except weapons from the world’s 50 poorest countries.
But we can, we must, do more. Gleneagles has shown us the way. 80% of the extra $ 50 billion of aid pledged there will come from Europe. Now the EU will produce its Africa strategy in the autumn, showing how we will spend these increased resources. And we will continue to lead the drive to reach a truly development friendly conclusion to the Doha trade round.
Europe can do a lot. But it can’t do all. We need others to match our efforts, which is why I welcome President Bush’s comments on trade in his speech yesterday. We need the new emerging economies to engage with us as well. And we need to work in partnership with African countries and organisations such as the African Union, of which President Obasanjo is the President.
We have the resources. What we need is organization and political will. Gleneagles was a crucial step in the fight against extreme poverty. Europe must, and will, work to turn the commitments made there into reality.
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