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Thursday, 19 May 2011

Discussions about democracy and budget aid at ACP-EU Assembly

MEPs and their counterparts from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific called for impartial justice to underpin reconciliation in the Côte d'Ivoire, and backed the right of citizens to demand political change wherever power is withheld from the people, at the 21st ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, in Budapest on 16-18 May. They also debated democracy-building, human rights, including homosexuals’ rights, and how best to ensure the accountability of political leaders. "Especially in times of economic crisis, many donors roll back on their aid commitments for the countries of the South", underlined JPA Co-President Louis Michel. At the same time, he advocated delivering development aid in the form of budgetary support to developing countries, be it general or sector-specific, as "the most suitable instrument if we want to achieve the objective of aid effectiveness and support state-building". "We will not accept that governments or politicians use the "cultural" argument to justify the hunting down and demonizing of homosexuality", he declared during the opening speech, sparking mixed reactions by the plenary Assembly. [...] The Assembly also adopted three reports submitted by its committees.

Budgetary support as a means of delivering Official Development Assistance (ODA) in ACP countries, by Enrique Guerrero Salom (S&D, Spain) and Mohamed Abdallahi Ould Guelaye (Mauritania), warns that aid in this form should not be overburdened by political conditionality provided that the ACP countries meet  Cotonou Agreement criteria such as transparent public financing and well-defined policies to eradicate poverty. Neither should budgetary assistance be linked to fulfilling economic conditions that can hamper ACP countries' development, it adds.

Challenges for the future of democracy and respecting constitutional order in ACP and EU countries by Olle Schmidt (ALDE, Sweden) and François Ibovi (Republic of Congo), says that respecting the constitution and the rights of the opposition, independent judiciary and media as well as the fight against corruption are the pillars of democracy in both in North and South.

Water pollution, by Bobbo Hamatoukour (Cameroon) and Christa Klass (EPP, DE), says that access to safe drinking water must be a priority for governments, especially in developing countries. A proper legal framework is needed to guarantee this fundamental right. Water pollution must be tackled by striking a balance between economic viability, social solidarity, employment and environment, adds the report. ACP-EU MPs also call for sanctions to be imposed on polluters who fail to comply with proper environmental standards.

Source: European Parliament