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Debates
Wednesday, 11 July 2007 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Democratic scrutiny under the Development Cooperation Instrument (debate)
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  Gay Mitchell, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – Madam President, I very much appreciate the comments and the content of the Commissioner’s response here this evening. I have to say it is nothing less than that I would expect from her. I found during the whole DCI process, often when we got bogged down, that the Commissioner certainly was of great assistance in trying to move that situation on, as was her colleague, Commissioner Michel.

I am glad also to hear what she had to say about the annual action programmes because we really do need to deliver on the letter that Commissioner Ferrero Waldner and Commissioner Michel sent to Mrs Morgantini and myself as rapporteur on the DCI, because in that letter it was clear that Parliament would decide for itself what structures it would set up and the programmes and strategy papers it would examine.

I have to say also that given that the DCI was only approved last December and it is very much a new process for all of us, Parliament has hit the boards running. Where it has been hit and miss, I have heard some very bad reports of the attitude of some people in the Commission in relation to annual action programmes. In my own experience as chairman of group C, examining some of the Latin American countries, I have to say that the cooperation has been very good. And I think the Commissioner should encourage the continuation of good cooperation because it creates a good atmosphere all round and creates a very good working relationship. It allows us all to bring our best experience to addressing the issues which we all want to address, being the Millennium Development Goals and the needs of very poor people in a suffering part of the world.

I want to underscore the importance of the present period. A lot of work has been done by the Commission and by Parliament to enable the EU to better implement its development policies. Throughout the negotiations on the development cooperation instrument, we made it clear that we did not want to be involved in micro-management. Micro-management is for the Commission and Council but we do want to have oversight. It is right for Parliament to have oversight and the Commission should not fear any involvement of Parliament in that vein. We, the Commission and the Council should be partners in seeking to be effective, and not competitive and seeking to keep things secretively to ourselves. How can we cooperate to effectively deliver assistance to the countries we are trying to assist?

The first steps of the new DCI framework are being taken and we all have responsibilities to get it right. DCI has formalised structures, recognising the important function that Parliament should play in its role as overseer and adviser. We have worked hard scrutinising the strategy papers prepared by the Commission and to formulate positions on different aspects of those strategies. I expect the Commission to give careful consideration to effect our positions on the strategy papers.

As part of our oversight role, we must insist that policy continuously focus on the achievement of the MDGs, which aim to alleviate some of the worst forms of poverty in the world. Parliament continually needs to receive assurances to its satisfaction.

I was very impressed at the beginning of the year to hear from the German Presidency that they would forward the ACP papers to Parliament in the same way as they had forwarded the papers for the Asian and Latin American countries.

Now I understand that one Member State – although perhaps I am being unfair in this – raised some objection to that. I know there is a multiplicity of these papers and it sounds very good that this should be addressed in some way by the JPA or the ACP member states. But, unlike Parliament, the Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the African, Caribbean and Pacific House of that Assembly are not constantly in session, and the structures are not there to cope with that level of scrutiny.

We have three standing committees and perhaps we could on some selective audit basis pick some aspects of these and examine them. But that should not in any way interfere with the need of Parliament here to take what documents this Parliament wishes and to scrutinise them in the best way possible.

Our objective should always be to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. We are not in competition. We can work together. For two years, during the development cooperation instrument process, we tried to persuade the Commission and others that we were really in the business of trying to find a really good instrument. Eventually, when we were listened to, we found that instrument.

Commissioner, do not listen to bad advice. Do not listen to people who are creating obstacles. We are in the same team. We want to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Do not keep from Parliament information that it should rightly have in its oversight role. You will find that we will respond generously and effectively and helpfully.

Thank you very much for your contribution here this evening.

 
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