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Understanding the Sustainable Development Goals

13-12-2019

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be attained by 2030, as a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) and the Rio+20 Summit (2012). Unlike their predecessors, the SDGs commit both developed and developing countries, and embrace the economic, environmental and social aspects of development. The SDGs and the broader 2030 Agenda for sustainable development of which they form the core, are based on the findings that human activities have ...

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be attained by 2030, as a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) and the Rio+20 Summit (2012). Unlike their predecessors, the SDGs commit both developed and developing countries, and embrace the economic, environmental and social aspects of development. The SDGs and the broader 2030 Agenda for sustainable development of which they form the core, are based on the findings that human activities have triggered dramatic changes in the conditions on Earth (climate change and biodiversity loss), which in turn have contributed to the deterioration of human well being. To reverse the trend, there is an urgent need to simultaneously address the multiple causes and consequences of environmental depletion and social inequalities, by developing synergies and managing trade-offs between the SDGs. Challenges in pursuing the SDGs include the fact that countries do not necessarily have an equal start and, even more importantly, that regardless of their stage of development, they can no longer afford to apply the current development model, where production and consumption happen at the expense of natural resources. According to many observers, such a model creates unsolvable tensions between SDGs, notably between the safeguarding of natural resources and the aspirations for improved well-being. The structural transformation that would bring about the desired change requires a joint effort by the international community, but equally so by natural and public or private legal persons, to urgently speed up the process. The European Union has been a leader in drafting and implementing the SDGs; however, the European Parliament considers the EU could go further in devising a common SDG strategy. This briefing updates an EPRS 'At a glance' note published in November 2017, PE 608.819.

EU support for fighting global poverty: Implementing UN SDG 1 – ‘Ending poverty’

19-11-2019

Poverty affects more than a quarter of the world's population, and that is why erasing it is a principal objective for humanity, enshrined as the first of a number of goals (SDGs) in the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Poverty is more than just having insufficient income – it is a multidimensional phenomenon closely related to unequal access to education, health and other basic services. Increasingly concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, extreme poverty destroys the lives of millions through ...

Poverty affects more than a quarter of the world's population, and that is why erasing it is a principal objective for humanity, enshrined as the first of a number of goals (SDGs) in the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Poverty is more than just having insufficient income – it is a multidimensional phenomenon closely related to unequal access to education, health and other basic services. Increasingly concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, extreme poverty destroys the lives of millions through malnutrition, high infant mortality rates and the violence and insecurity it fuels. Poverty eradication is an ongoing objective of EU development policy. It has recently gained new momentum with the incorporation of the SDGs into the 2017 European consensus on development – the framework for EU action in the area of development cooperation. The EU supports, through its different instruments and programmes, key areas, such as education, healthcare, social security and good governance, relevant to poverty eradication in developing countries. The 2018 Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs has further reinforced the focus on those sub-Saharan countries where poverty is at its highest, through an innovative approach that goes beyond aid and seeks to forge an 'equals alliance'. Its main pillar, the European Fund for Sustainable Development, aims, through EU grants and guarantees, to mobilise massive public and private investment necessary for the economic take-off of the continent, which would provide jobs and access to basic services for the growing African population. Some doubt that using aid to subsidise private investment is the optimal way to tackle poverty, and insist on strict implementation of development objectives, environmental and social standards, and on highlighting human rights in all projects. Others also denounce the diversion of aid to finance migration management in countries of origin and transit of migration from Africa to Europe. A shift towards a post-growth economy is perceived by many as a radical long-term solution for global well-being and sustainability of the planet.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Jutta Urpilainen - International Partnerships

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

La mise en œuvre du nouveau cadre de partenariat avec les pays tiers: Le cas du Niger

03-09-2019

Le Niger, pays de croisement de nombreuses routes migratoires au Sahel, s'est montré le plus réactif, parmi ceux de l'Afrique subsaharienne, aux sollicitations européennes pour renforcer la lutte contre la migration irrégulière – un des objectifs clefs du nouveau cadre de partenariat de l'Union européenne (UE) avec les pays tiers. Ce cadre offre de nouvelles opportunités de coopération en contrepartie du durcissement de la politique migratoire. Le gouvernement nigérien a donc mis en œuvre une règlementation ...

Le Niger, pays de croisement de nombreuses routes migratoires au Sahel, s'est montré le plus réactif, parmi ceux de l'Afrique subsaharienne, aux sollicitations européennes pour renforcer la lutte contre la migration irrégulière – un des objectifs clefs du nouveau cadre de partenariat de l'Union européenne (UE) avec les pays tiers. Ce cadre offre de nouvelles opportunités de coopération en contrepartie du durcissement de la politique migratoire. Le gouvernement nigérien a donc mis en œuvre une règlementation stricte criminalisant toute assistance aux étrangers en transit. En matière de sécurité, le gouvernement de Niamey, qui doit faire face à l'instabilité régionale et la criminalité transfrontalière, et l'UE, qui gère une pression migratoire importante, ont des intérêts convergents, ce qui explique l'intensification de la coopération depuis 2015-2016. La diminution des flux migratoires qui en résulte, applaudie par les partenaires européens, a des conséquences néfastes sur l'économie locale centrée sur le fait migratoire. La crise économique menace les équilibres fragiles des ethnies du Sahara entre elles ainsi qu'avec le gouvernement central et renforce l'insécurité, tant pour les migrants victimes des abus que pour la population locale, encore plus fragilisée. Le Parlement européen a mis en garde dès 2017 contre une vision trop étroite et à court terme de la politique externe de l'UE et contre le risque de détourner les fonds de la politique du développement vers les objectifs purement sécuritaires, en plaidant pour une approche de la migration centrée sur les droits de l'homme. Il soutient également le plan d'investissement extérieur, un de bras financier du nouveau cadre de partenariat, qui doit encourager des investissements privés en faveur du développement.

Prospects following South Africa's 2019 elections

02-07-2019

Regional economic and political leader, G20 member, and elected to a United Nations Security Council seat in 2019 for the third time since the end of apartheid, South Africa is a strategic EU partner. Recognised as one of only two full democracies on its continent in the 2018 Democracy Index, South Africa nevertheless faces considerable problems, affecting both the economy and a fragile social fabric still affected by its apartheid history. The governing party's election success comes as no surprise ...

Regional economic and political leader, G20 member, and elected to a United Nations Security Council seat in 2019 for the third time since the end of apartheid, South Africa is a strategic EU partner. Recognised as one of only two full democracies on its continent in the 2018 Democracy Index, South Africa nevertheless faces considerable problems, affecting both the economy and a fragile social fabric still affected by its apartheid history. The governing party's election success comes as no surprise, although its falling popularity increasingly puts its ability to address South Africa's challenges into question. In this context, a revived EU-South Africa strategic partnership could provide a framework for enhanced cooperation in sensitive policy areas.

Interlinks between migration and development

23-01-2019

The EU and its Member States have reshaped their external policies, including development cooperation, to place more focus on migration-related issues. Widely used in this context, political rhetoric on 'addressing root causes of migration' has been questioned by academics as creating unrealistic expectations. Indeed, a positive correlation between migration and narrowly understood economic development persists until countries reach middle-income country level. However, several key drivers of migration ...

The EU and its Member States have reshaped their external policies, including development cooperation, to place more focus on migration-related issues. Widely used in this context, political rhetoric on 'addressing root causes of migration' has been questioned by academics as creating unrealistic expectations. Indeed, a positive correlation between migration and narrowly understood economic development persists until countries reach middle-income country level. However, several key drivers of migration are related to discrepancies in levels of human development. Demographic pressures, youth unemployment, job opportunities in the country of destination, the growth of migrant networks and the desire to reunite families, all play roles in migration. A complex interaction between aid and migration also exists, which is far from a simple one-way causality. In general, poverty alleviation, the primary objective of development aid, tends to enhance rather than deter the realisation of the aspiration to migrate, in the short- and medium-term, by increasing household incomes. A more global approach to cooperation with third countries, such as the EU's already well-established assistance focusing on good governance, infrastructure, rural development and strengthening resilience, as well as going beyond development assistance to include trade and investment, appears promising in terms of deterring migration. On the other hand, studies confirm that international migration is an important path for development: remittances constitute a tool for poverty reduction, while diaspora skills and networks provide resources for economic and social progress. Nevertheless, EU policy integrating development aid as an instrument for curbing irregular migration is criticised by development stakeholders as undermining aid effectiveness, principles, and risks diverting aid from the most needy and indirectly prompting human rights violations. To avoid such outcomes, a contextual analysis must be the basis for identifying genuine synergies to be reinforced between development and migration management.

Madagascar: vers une sortie des crises politiques à répétition?

19-10-2018

Depuis l’indépendance de Madagascar, malgré l’absence de conflit majeur et sa richesse en ressources tant humaines que naturelles, sa population continue de s’appauvrir. Cette 'énigme malgache' s’accompagne d’un paradoxe: chaque fois qu’une reprise économique s’amorce, une crise politique vient l’interrompre. La clef de l’énigme réside dans les jeux de pouvoir entres les réseaux des élites, qui se créent au gré des circonstances autour des leaders aspirant au poste du chef d’État. La culture politique ...

Depuis l’indépendance de Madagascar, malgré l’absence de conflit majeur et sa richesse en ressources tant humaines que naturelles, sa population continue de s’appauvrir. Cette 'énigme malgache' s’accompagne d’un paradoxe: chaque fois qu’une reprise économique s’amorce, une crise politique vient l’interrompre. La clef de l’énigme réside dans les jeux de pouvoir entres les réseaux des élites, qui se créent au gré des circonstances autour des leaders aspirant au poste du chef d’État. La culture politique, tout en gardant une apparence démocratique, soutient implicitement les institutions informelles fondées sur la personnalisation du pouvoir, au détriment des institutions formelles, dont l’équilibre est censé stabiliser le système politique. Les institutions étatiques sont constamment (re)façonnées au profit des réseaux au pouvoir pour ne pas menacer la mainmise de l’exécutif. La déception de la population, dont le pouvoir d’achat ne cesse de diminuer depuis des décennies, se confirme dans les enquêtes d'opinion et dans la baisse constante de la participation électorale. En effet, il existe un clivage profond entre les élites, prises dans l’auto-préservation, et la population, désabusée et tiraillée entre les aspirations démocratiques et une soumission fataliste, dérivée des valeurs ancestrales. L’aide internationale, bien que vitale pour la population, vivant en majorité dans une grande pauvreté, est insuffisante pour un développement durable du pays. Au-delà du renforcement des institutions démocratiques et du développement de corps intermédiaires qui pourraient mieux répondre aux aspirations populaires, un sursaut plus profond est nécessaire pour bâtir une démocratie au-delà de la façade. Son fondement: un nouveau contrat social entre la population et les élites du pays, basé sur une reformulation commune de la culture politique malgache, entre tradition et modernité.

Zimbabwe's post-electoral challenges

13-09-2018

As international isolation is no longer economically bearable, Zimbabwe has been searching for legitimacy on the global stage. The post-Mugabe transition government, from a ruling party fraction, committed itself to free and fair elections and invited international observers for first time in 16 years. But much-awaited change in Zimbabwe needs much more than a newly elected president and legislature. The country suffers from institutional dysfunction driven by years of a de facto one-party, military-backed ...

As international isolation is no longer economically bearable, Zimbabwe has been searching for legitimacy on the global stage. The post-Mugabe transition government, from a ruling party fraction, committed itself to free and fair elections and invited international observers for first time in 16 years. But much-awaited change in Zimbabwe needs much more than a newly elected president and legislature. The country suffers from institutional dysfunction driven by years of a de facto one-party, military-backed regime, characterised by rampant corruption and systematic patronage, securing the capture of key economic areas and political institutions by party elites. The victory of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), in both the legislative and presidential elections, and the deadly crackdown on the opposition that followed, seriously undermine the prospects for genuine Zimbabwean democracy. Although international observers assessed the electoral process as relatively free and competitive, it took place on an uneven playing field due to years of ZANU-PF domination. EU observers, in particular, expressed strong concern regarding the intimidation of voters, the pro-state bias of the media, and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's (ZEC) lack of transparency. Some observers have indeed warned that the ousting of Robert Mugabe, which had raised so many hopes, was just part of a power reshuffle inside Zimbabwe's authoritarian regime, meant to protect the interests of the governing elites. Indeed, powerful forces obstruct change in Zimbabwe, seeking the sole preservation of their economic interests in the renewed political context. It is likely that the newly-elected President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, will pursue some economic reform, especially to attract foreign investors, while maintaining political control from above. In this situation, the EU, having declared its readiness to fully re-engage with Zimbabwe, has to use every lever to induce structural changes and to support civil society in this deeply corrupt and dysfunctional state.

La lutte contre les flux financiers illicites: un enjeu de développement

29-08-2018

Les scandales financiers à répétition révélés dans les médias, à l’instar des Panama Papers, ont intensifié le débat public sur les paradis fiscaux, l’évasion fiscale et les fuites illicites de capitaux. Forcément difficiles à estimer, les flux financiers illicites (FFI), c’est-à-dire les fonds reçus, transférés ou utilisés de façon illégale au-delà de la frontière d’un pays, sont un phénomène d’une grande ampleur, aux formes diverses et se nourrissant de l’opacité de la structure financière internationale ...

Les scandales financiers à répétition révélés dans les médias, à l’instar des Panama Papers, ont intensifié le débat public sur les paradis fiscaux, l’évasion fiscale et les fuites illicites de capitaux. Forcément difficiles à estimer, les flux financiers illicites (FFI), c’est-à-dire les fonds reçus, transférés ou utilisés de façon illégale au-delà de la frontière d’un pays, sont un phénomène d’une grande ampleur, aux formes diverses et se nourrissant de l’opacité de la structure financière internationale. Bien qu’il n’épargne aucun pays, son impact se fait sentir le plus lourdement dans les pays les plus pauvres. En effet, les FFI transfèrent à l’étranger les richesses qui auraient pu être investies localement, grèvent des recettes publiques déjà faibles, et corrompent les institutions étatiques, contribuant ainsi à maintenir ou aggraver les niveaux de pauvreté et d’inégalité. Les mesures prises au niveau international, complément nécessaire à toute politique interne pour s’attaquer aux FFI, qui dépassent les frontières, ont proliféré mais elles manquent de cohérence et d’universalité. Les listes de paradis fiscaux établies notamment par l’OCDE et l’Union européenne sont très succinctes alors que, dans la pratique, de nombreuses juridictions, souvent de pays développés, continuent d’opérer de cette manière. Alors que les pays en développement manquent d’environ 2500 milliards USD pour investir en vue d’atteindre les Objectifs de développement durable en 2030, une lutte plus efficace contre les FFI devrait être une priorité, comme l’a souligné le Parlement européen à plusieurs reprises.

EU aid for trade: Taking stock and looking forward

17-04-2018

Representing a third of global official development aid flows annually, aid for trade (AfT) has been on the rise. AfT has a very broad scope that includes projects ranging from building roads and modernising ports, to developing the banking sector, helping local food producers to comply with phytosanitary standards and providing more specific trade-related assistance, such as technical support in trade negotiations. Today, more than a decade after the launch in 2006 of the World Trade Organization's ...

Representing a third of global official development aid flows annually, aid for trade (AfT) has been on the rise. AfT has a very broad scope that includes projects ranging from building roads and modernising ports, to developing the banking sector, helping local food producers to comply with phytosanitary standards and providing more specific trade-related assistance, such as technical support in trade negotiations. Today, more than a decade after the launch in 2006 of the World Trade Organization's AfT initiative, which established a common framework for action, most commentators agree that AfT investments have helped developing – especially Asian – countries, to improve and diversify their export and trade performance. However, its impact on poverty reduction has been much less clear. The evaluation of AfT is done in a fragmented manner, which makes the exercise quite tricky, leaving space for very divergent opinions. The EU is a world leader in AfT, both in terms of volume and in policy formulation. Adopted in 2007, the EU Aid for trade strategy helped to link the Union's development and trade agendas, often perceived as incompatible, and complemented the EU's preferential trade schemes for developing countries. The 2017 strategy update, after the introduction of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals and the new European consensus on development, was an opportunity to consider the future direction of AfT and reflect on its effectiveness. The EU reaffirmed its commitments to AfT, while putting more emphasis on bridging the digital gap, empowering women and improving the situation of the least developed countries in global trade systems.

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