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further to Questions for Oral Answer B6‑0071/05 and B6-0072/05
pursuant to Rule 108(5) of the Rules of Procedure
by Frithjof Schmidt, Marie-Hélène Aubert and Carl Schlyter
on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group
on action against poverty

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B6-0398/2005

Procedūra : 2005/2571(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on action against poverty

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the New York Declaration on Action Against Hunger and Poverty,

–  having regard to the international campaign known as the Global Call to Action Against Poverty launched by a large alliance of people, organisations and national and international networks committed to eradicating poverty, and noting that Nelson Mandela supports this initiative,

–  having regard to Rule 108(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas extreme poverty affects over one billion people, and whereas in sub-Saharan Africa, about 300 million people live in absolute poverty and millions of people die each year from a lack of health care, clean water, decent housing and adequate nutrition,

B.  whereas the campaign's objectives include debt cancellation, a major increase in the quantity and quality of development aid and an end to unfair rules in world trade,

C.  whereas sub-Saharan Africa's external debt amounted to USD 231 billion in 2003, of which USD 69 billion were owed to multilateral lenders,

D.  whereas the alarming Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report concludes that approximately 60% (15 out 24) of the world's ecosystems including fresh water and fisheries stocks are being degraded or used unsustainably and that the world's poorest people suffer most from this ecosystem degradation,

E.  whereas according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Reports (MA) the number of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to rise from 315 million in 1999 to 404 million if the current trends continue,

F.  whereas the UN Millennium Development Goal commitments to halve poverty and hunger by 2015 , provide education for all, improve standards of health, stop the spread of major diseases and tackle environmental degradation are being seriously compromised by the lack of genuine commitment of world leaders to addressing the root causes of poverty,

G.  whereas poverty is not a fatality but rather a result of political and economic policy choices at country, regional and international levels, and whereas action against poverty requires above all a radical change of policy in industrialised and developing countries so as to address the structural causes of poverty including unfair world trade rules, unbearable debt repayments by developing countries to international financial institutions, and unfair distribution of wealth,

H.  whereas actions such as structural adjustment programmes, privatisation of public enterprises and liberalisation of markets which have been proposed so far by rich countries and international financial institutions to fight against poverty have instead exacerbated the problem in developing countries,

1.  Considers that a genuine fight against poverty requires the establishment of a comprehensive sustainable development policy in order to build up developing countries' production capacities and internal markets without jeopardising their economies with cheap imports;

2.  Believes that the fight against poverty must be based on the recognition of the right of a country or a region to democratically define its own policies, priorities and strategies to protect its population's livelihood and social, economic and cultural rights and that these principles should prevail over trade liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation;

3.  Reaffirms that access to health care is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which should be respected, and calls upon the EU to secure appropriate funding to combat neglected diseases which mostly affect developing countries;

4.  Calls upon rich countries to address structural causes of poverty in developing countries and accordingly calls for the establishment of fair and equitable trade rules and for an end of all forms of export support, such as export subsidies, export credits and commercial use of food aid;

5.  Welcomes the recent debt cancellation by the G7 for 18 countries and considers this move as a first step in the right direction, although it is far from enough in the fight aimed at making poverty history;

6.  Points out that the debt cancellation agreed by the G7 is USD 40 billion, while sub-Saharan Africa's total external debt was USD 231 billion in 2003 and, according to some NGOs, 62 countries need 100 % debt cancellation if they are to meet the Millennium Development Goals;

7.  Regrets that the 18 countries which are to benefit from the G7 decision have to fulfil IMF and World Bank conditionality under the current HIPIC initiative and are required to take measures such as liberalisation of markets and privatisation of different economic sectors;

8.  Calls on the EU Member States to make public the activities of their export credit agencies for transparent and democratic scrutiny, as these agencies have contributed the debt burden of developing countries;

9.  Calls on donor countries to put an end to tied aid, including food aid and technical assistance, that forces developing countries to purchase goods and services from donor countries;

10.  Calls on the EU to take concrete action against poverty by adopting a coherent policy on trade and development cooperation and its common agricultural policies, and by putting an end to dumping of subsidised agricultural products on poor countries' markets;

11.  Calls on the EU and other industrialised countries to address unfair terms of trade and commodity price fluctuations which, since 1996, have led to a 60% fall in the global prices of the main agricultural products such as corn, wheat, soy, cotton and rice and to a serious deterioration in conditions in certain LDCs, most of which are African countries; the price of coffee, cocoa, sugar and palm oil has also decreased by over 60%;

12.  Asks for an evaluation of experiences with commodity price stabilisation systems and supply-side management schemes, in order to design mechanisms and policies which are primarily aimed at guaranteeing stable prices for the range of commodities that African countries depend upon;

13.  Calls on international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF to end their policy of making the privatisation and liberalisation of different vital economic sectors in developing countries a condition for grants and loans, and urges the Commission and Member States to use their influence towards this end;

14.  Calls on the EU and other industrialised countries not to force developing countries to liberalise or privatise basic services that are vital for poverty eradication, such as education, health and access to clean water;

15.  Calls for a democratisation of international financial institutions as regards transparency and the participation of national and regional parliaments, and considers that the voting system should be based on equal rights and not on the financial contributions of the members; 

16.  Calls for a full impact assessment of current trade liberalisation policies on hunger and poverty in developing countries and for the result of this assessment to be used to formulate clear guidelines for development cooperation;

17.  Fully endorses the conclusion of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report which states that continued destruction of the world's ecosystem will act as a barrier to achieving the MDGs;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Member States.