EU still underperforming but MDGs ‘are still achievable’ admits Piebalgs - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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EU still underperforming but MDGs ‘are still achievable’ admits Piebalgs

Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Posted on Th!nk3In Brussels today, the European Commission has adopted what it calls an “ambitious action plan” for EU-wide action to speed up its progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Despite the EU remaining the most generous global donor, providing over half of global aid, the levels of EU aid decreased in 2009 and amounted to some €49 billion. This equates to roughly 0.42% of EU GNI which shows that the 27-member bloc is still a way off meeting the intermediate collective target of 0.56% GNI by 2010, and the hallowed 0.7% by 2015.

Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs (Photo: European Commission)In its action plan of 12 steps, the Commission calls upon member states to take further action in support of MDGs and aim at increasing the level of aid while making aid more efficient and focused on those countries and sectors most in need.

Currently each European citizen indirectly contributes around €100 each year.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, the Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs said this was something “we can be proud of and we can see progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. But poverty still remains with one point four billion people – almost three times the European - living in extreme poverty. Now is not the time for complacency – we need to redouble our efforts.

"I want Europe to remain the main and most credible leader in the fight against poverty,” he said. “We have to respect our promises of more and better aid to halve poverty by 2015.

This plan shows how we can keep the lead in working with developing countries to get back on track towards the MDGs. The Goals are still achievable, provided there is financial effort and political will from EU Member States."

The President of the Commission José Manuel Barroso, fresh from introducing the Commission’s Legislative and Work Programme for 2010 to the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg yesterday said that 2010 is a year of opportunity for the EU to renew its commitment towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

As we celebrate the ‘European Year against Poverty and Social Exclusion’, it is important to recall that the challenge of poverty does not stop at the EU’s borders,” he said. “Promoting development has to be part and parcel of Europe’s response to global challenges. We have a chance to make this a new decade for development and I am personally committed to push this agenda at global level during this year's G8 and G20 summits and in the UN MDG Review Meeting."

The EU’s Action Plan proposes ways to ensure the required increase of aid delivered by member states and supports the need for innovative sources of financing, while also addressing the quality of aid by sharing labour and responsibilities within the EU, to ensure there are no "aid orphan" countries. The Commission, under Mr Piebalgs’ watchful eye, also pledges to ensure that its policies are coherent with the development goals.

As for the contents of the Action Plan, it consists of 12 points:

  • Member States will be asked to establish realistic, verifiable annual action plans for reaching individual targets and publish the first plans before September 2010. The European Council should lead a process of peer review among Member States. The Action Plan also calls for fair international burden-sharing with other international donors to raise their level of ambition;
  • Increase of aid effectiveness by better coordinating national aid programmes at EU level. This means better value for money and could save around €3 to €6 billion yearly. The EU plan for Haiti reconstruction is a good example. Aid effectiveness should also be promoted at international level;
  • Target fragile states and those most off-track countries from the MDGs;
  • Target the most off-track MDGs, through sectoral measures on Gender, Health, Education and Food security;
  • Foster ownership of MDGs in developing countries by working in partnerships, such as the EU-Africa Joint Strategy;
  • Ensure that other EU policies such as security, trade, migration, food security and climate change work in coherence for development goals;
  • Mobilise domestic resources through better taxation in developing countries. In parallel, promote the principles of good governance in tax matters and support fight against tax evasion at international level;
  • Strengthen regional integration and trade for growth and jobs;
  • Support initiatives on innovative financing with high revenue potential and ensure they benefit the poorest ;
  • Use the EU's €2.4bn a year "fast-start" funding commitment in Copenhagen for climate change as a test for aid effectiveness and coherence.
  • Launch a new plan to address and intervene better in conflict situations and make development and security work better together;
  • Support a stronger weight of developing countries in the international governance architecture, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and the UN reform for more effective agencies.

Before the EU Action plan can be put into effect, it will face further scrutiny in the Foreign Affairs Council meetings scheduled in May and June, and should be on the agenda for the meeting of EU leaders in June.

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