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A7-0234/2012

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PV 22/10/2012 - 21
CRE 22/10/2012 - 21

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PV 23/10/2012 - 13.23
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P7_TA(2012)0386

Verbatim report of proceedings
Monday, 22 October 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

21. Future of EU development policy - 2015 - European Year for Development (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. − The next item is a joint debate on Union development policy: the report (A7-0234/2012) by Charles Goerens, on behalf of the Committee on Development, on the proposal for an Agenda for Change: the future of EU development policy (2012/2002(INI), and on the question submitted for an oral response by Charles Goerens, on behalf of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, by Philippe Boulland, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), and by Thijs Berman, on behalf of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, addressed to the Commission, on 2015 – European Year for Development (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=OQ&reference=O-2012-000167&language=HU" \t "_blank" – B7-0363/2012).

 
  
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  Charles Goerens, rapporteur and author. (FR) Mr President, why does the European Union’s policy on development need to change?

It cannot stay the same because the world has changed. These days, 7 out of 10 poor people in the world are living not in the least developed countries or the developing countries but in the emerging countries. Admittedly, globalisation is creating considerable wealth, but not all of it filters through to the least well off.

In addition to that, we have the explosive rate of population growth. Today, the planet has seven billion mouths to feed. In 20 years’ time, the figure will be nine billion. A country’s economic growth is only real when the economy is growing faster than the birth rate.

In the course of the 21st century, the European Union’s influence in the world will steadily fall away in what some call a ‘strategic decline’, in contrast to that of the emerging countries whose booming economies have already made them confident political players.

Even so, the European Union is far and away the world’s leading provider of public-sector development aid. It aspires not only to remain the leading player in this field, but also to be the best one.

To ensure that this remains the case in the future too, the Committee on Development envisages the following way forward. The European Union’s development policy pursues the noblest of all objectives, namely to promote human dignity by eradicating poverty, nothing more, nothing less. Public-sector aid to development must be tailored to the needs of our partners in the South, respecting the choices they make. Development policy must help the poor, with no hidden agenda, and must be consistent with the European Consensus on Development as reflected in the statement agreed by the Council, Commission and Parliament.

We would like to see Lady Ashton signing the relevant document too, so that there is not the slightest doubt as to the intentions of all the European institutions concerning development. We call on all those involved – private-sector players, wealthy nations, poor nations, multilateral organisations – to shoulder their development responsibilities.

For this reason, we endorse the wish of the European Commission to provide its aid on a differentiated basis and to strike the emerging countries, with their booming economies, off the list of beneficiaries. The alleviation of poverty in these countries must no longer be a matter for international solidarity but must now be a domestic policy concern. Our Committee would like this to come about through dialogue with these countries and a gradual withdrawal of the European Union from giving them aid.

Commissioner Piebalgs favours inclusive growth in the developing countries. We agree with that approach. With the proviso that the promotion of growth in the developing countries, as in Europe too, must bring about a real improvement in the lot of the poorest. Account must be taken of this in the programming of aid. So we believe that at least 20 % of EU aid must go towards basic social services as defined by the United Nations in its Millennium Development Goals.

European Union policy must be consistent, coherent. Coherence means that departments other than that concerned with development must be persuaded to abandon any action which might undermine what has been achieved in development cooperation. Our 27 Member States must be aware of this and must act accordingly so that, operating as 28, along with the Commission, the External Action Service, they fulfil the requirement of coordinated action stipulated in the Lisbon Treaty. Your rapporteur believes that the dialogue amongst the 28 is far from good enough, in terms of ministers’ attendance at Council meetings and the extremely limited time allocated to this dialogue.

So I think that, before we take decisions, there must be a meeting of minds on the main strategic issues which determine the European Union’s development policy. An independent think tank at European level, providing real added value, real added value over and above that provided by existing national bodies, might be better placed to guide us in our response to the major challenges of development. I will spare you the detail, which you can find in my written report.

As we are aware, this matter of development receives insufficient attention in public debate. To remedy that state of affairs, and this is the purpose of the oral question I added to my request for this report, we ask Parliament to approve our motion to have 2015 declared the European Year for Development. This request is supported by Thijs Berman, Philippe Boulland and Eva Joly.

Why do we need responsible development? Because the Millennium Development Goals will never be attained if the mid-income countries, where 7 out of 10 people are poor, do not shoulder their responsibilities. We need it because the imperative of policy coherence requires us too, in the European Union, to rethink a number of our methods. If we want to remain relevant here in 2015, it seems to me that 2015 is none too soon a date.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland, author. (FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, may I first of all thank Charles Goerens for his excellent report.

We are all aware that the European Union provides over half of the world’s public-sector development aid. Even so, as the 2015 deadline for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals draws near, whilst some of the goals do seem to have been achieved, we need to think about how we can improve our aid and make it more coherent with our trade policy, our agricultural policy and our foreign policy.

The future of European development policy must be built on specific, measurable commitments tied to a short- and medium-term timetable.

The economic crisis, climate change, the power of the emerging countries, land grabbing, all these things force us to set new priorities: guaranteeing food security, access to energy resources and access to health care. There is agreement in Europe on these things, yes, but we must rethink our European and international institutional systems for dealing with environmental and social issues, modelling ourselves on decision-making bodies like the WTO, for example.

Lastly, and above all, we must make it clear to our fellow citizens that development aid to third countries is more than charity and solidarity; it is also a source of development for us. We need only look at the markets opening up to Europeans in the emerging countries of China, Brazil and India.

The year 2015 will also be a time to look more closely at the geostrategic changes of recent years, because today’s emerging countries were still developing countries not all that long ago. As undeniable economic powers, these countries must now make their own contribution to the international aid effort.

The European Union must be a promoter of responsible development aid at European and at international level. The year 2015 will be more than a landmark date; it will be a unique opportunity for rethinking development aid, not merely as financial assistance, but as backing for responsible development projects in both the social and environmental field.

I thus join with members of the other groups and the members of the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions in calling for 2015 to be designated the European Year for Development and, above all, responsible development.

 
  
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  Thijs Berman, rapporteur. (NL) Mr President, following Mr Goerens’ excellent report, I should like to make three comments.

The Agenda for Change rightly says that there must be a closer link between emergency aid and development policy. In my Member State, the Netherlands, people are saying that we should simply confine ourselves to emergency aid, which is a ridiculous idea.

Now, in Mali, for instance, it is disastrous and not in our interests simply to offer emergency aid. Not to look beyond famine amongst the refugees in northern Mali only benefits the Muslim fanatics who are establishing Sharia law there, despite fierce opposition from the local population. That offers Al Qaeda a safe haven, so that northern Mali becomes a hotbed, an Afghanistan close to our borders.

If we look away from northern Mali, that is also to the advantage of Latin American criminals who are increasingly free to transport cocaine to Europe across the Sahara, via ports in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau. Taking action, on the other hand, means supporting the peace initiative and working actively in Mali towards a future for the region, for the Tuareg as well.

In 2015, we need to have global talks about how to ensure from then on that everyone has the possibility of escaping poverty. That calls for a public debate. It would be a good idea for the European Union to declare 2015 the year of development cooperation. I should like to ask Commissioner Piebalgs whether he can support us in achieving that.

Finally, without open democracy, equal opportunities are an illusion. As long as the poorest have no voice in their capital cities, their interests are not taken into account there. It is, therefore, important to invest in making the voices of the poorest heard, in local and regional parliaments, in social organisations, such as NGOs for minorities and women. The European Commission is opting for that approach, with the backing of the European Parliament. I hope that the Council will also be able to support it.

 
  
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  Andris Piebalgs, Member of the Commission. Mr President, I should start by thanking Charles Goerens for an excellent report and also for the debate we have started here. It definitely requires far more attention.

I am also grateful to the Committee on Development, in which we have the chance always to exchange views on development policy. Development cooperation is definitely one of the most complicated policies because it revolves not only around the development support that we give, but also around our action in other policy areas. It is also true, as Mr Boulland said, that we should see development policy not only from the perspective of solidarity. Solidarity is definitely part of our approach, but it is also an investment in the security and the well-being of our citizens. I believe it is very much a cross-cutting policy that strengthens the Union if properly addressed and weakens the Union if not properly addressed.

I believe that there have been substantial changes in the world for the better. We now have a chance, in our lifetime, not only to alleviate poverty but also, in many parts of the world, to eradicate it. The EU is a trusted partner because we always keep our promises. Sometimes, perhaps, we are slow, but we are honest in our approach, with no second thoughts. We just want to help countries get out of the circle of poverty.

In addressing this agenda of change, we really need to work more strategically, and when you work more strategically you definitely need to make some choices. Our point of departure is the human rights-based approach, which we do not separate from health policy, education policy or support for growth sectors. It is an over-arching element that we address in all policy elements in a coherent manner. I am very glad that Mr Goerens’s report looks positively on the movement towards inclusive and sustainable growth, because we can also see what our partners are looking for. They would like fast, immediate growth, and GDP growth of two figures, and if possible three figures, while not always understanding that GDP growth figures do not always result in satisfaction for the funded nation and that the elements of social inclusion and social protection are very important, and that the sustainability issue is also crucial. Does it help a country to have high growth, only to find it is devastating the environment? We are trying to build a coherent approach.

I believe two issues are crucial here. One is access to sustainable energy. We know that this is crucial not only in the fight against climate change, but also for economic growth. If we are not there, then it will most probably be coal-based power that is used in some parts of the country. The second issue is food security, agriculture and nutrition. What Mr Berman said is true: if you just take humanitarian aid, you will never have enough money to address matters, because calamities are happening more and more and this has a higher and higher cost. It does not help if you just save people’s lives in a time of calamity – they also need to rebuild their lives.

What we have done, together with my colleague Kristalina Georgieva, with regard to built resilience provides an answer. This is where you can save money and where you can move out, saying that, at a certain stage of development, our support will not be necessary, because the country is strong enough and has built resilience to address its food insecurity.

Mr Goerens touched upon dialogue with the Member States, and things have evolved in the Development Council. It is perhaps not the most important sign, but in May we will hold a whole-day Development Council under the chairmanship of the High Representative, Vice-President Ashton. Although she has a busy agenda, she has agreed to hold a whole-day event. This demonstrates that we have issues to discuss, and she feels confident that the Member States will be fully involved.

Another benchmark is joint programming. I am glad that there is a French initiative to hold an event on joint programming. It is not only a Commission-driven process. This is what we are looking for, so that Member States feel fully comfortable with the policy.

Last but not least, international engagement. We sometimes say that we are misunderstood, but I believe now that we have a real historic chance in the MDG process up to 2015 and after. The MDG Framework is the most developed and widely-recognised international global framework. That framework really has changed the lives of millions of people, and 2015 is the year in which we conclude the process of the MDGs and, from another point of view, we also start a new framework.

I believe the EU should be fully engaged in this major event and consider this the most important year for development cooperation; it is really a landmark year for us. So, for this reason, I believe that organising a European Year for Development in 2015 could be both timely and appropriate. At EU level it could help catalyse and mobilise the attention both of public opinion and of the decision-makers on development issues, in particular on the post-2015 development framework.

I am also pleased to note the support of the Committee of the Regions and of the President of this House on this issue. The Commission is now looking at the implications of the organisation of this European Year. We need also to mobilise significant human resources to ensure the full success of such a large-scale campaign. We are looking at it positively, but we need to be absolutely sure that we, as Europe, can deliver on this Year before we start it. The Commission will come back to Parliament with detailed proposals, in line with the proper procedure for the designation of a European Year.

I would also call the attention of this House, as a component of the budgetary authority, to the need to ensure sufficient financial resources in order to secure the successful organisation of such a European Year.

 
  
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  Filip Kaczmarek, on behalf of the PPE Group. – (PL) Mr President, the Committee on Development decided to draft a report on the communication ‘Agenda for Change’, as the plans the Commission sets out in this document concern key issues of European development policy. I would like to thank Charles Goerens for drafting this important report. I share the Commission’s eagerness to pay particular attention to improving the quality of assistance. It is clear that, at times of crisis, we must be exceptionally careful about how we spend taxpayers’ money. Nor is there any doubt that our development policy itself needs to be modernised. If the world is changing, and changing very quickly, then our response to the world’s problems and ills should keep pace with those changes. The Agenda for Change is an attempt to do just that, and I hope that it will be successful. The concept of inclusive growth, which the Commissioner referred to just now, involves reconciling economic growth with progress in meeting social needs. This concept actually builds on a very European and long-established model – the social market economy. It prevents us from losing sight of the basic aim of economic development, which is to reduce poverty. Our desire is for a development policy that is coherent, effective, balanced and well coordinated. I believe that the Agenda for Change, our report and the European Year for Development will bring us closer to achieving that.

 
  
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  Ricardo Cortés Lastra, on behalf of the S&D Group. – (ES) Mr President, Commissioner, I would like to congratulate Charles Goerens on his report; this sets out a firm position which lays down the bases for the future of European development cooperation policy. His report comes at a time of Europe-wide cuts in official development aid, expiry of the time limit set for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and full negotiation of the next multiannual financial framework; specifically, the development cooperation instrument.

The message which Parliament is going to support tomorrow is a forceful one: times are changing, circumstances are changing, but we Europeans, even in difficult times, are in favour of solidarity and development, and we have a cooperation agenda which is in tune with those changes.

Parliament is therefore supportive of policies which favour sustainable development and promote the redistribution of wealth and social justice, whose financing is commensurate with global targets. It is also urging that the 70 % of poor people in the world who live in middle-income countries should not be denied our support. We are therefore asking that a roadmap be negotiated aimed at gradual reduction of official development aid, that their involvement in triangular cooperation agreements be actively promoted and that the differentiation criterion for granting or not granting our aid be based not just on gross national income but also on other indicators, such as current inequality or vulnerability.

Mr President, Commissioner, we are asking for a lot, even for revenue from the tax on European Union financial transactions to be used, inter alia, for development cooperation; but we are asking this advisedly, in the knowledge that European Union aid is effective and has a genuine added value and also that it continues to be necessary.

 
  
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  Judith Sargentini, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (NL) Mr President, I thank Mr Goerens for his excellent report. But what always seems a problem to me is that, in times of economic crisis, we change our view of our development cooperation policy. That would be fine if we were to be clever and say that our starting point is a coherent policy and that now we are really going to exert pressure on trade and investment in development policy.

But if we don’t do that and if we actually look primarily at how we can use our official development aid funds, then I am still very much afraid, Commissioner, that we are taking over the arguments of the other side, that is to say, you can do it more efficiently and, therefore, with less money. I can see that in my own country, where the contribution to development cooperation has now fallen from 0.8 % to 0.7 % of gross national product, and I will see it again in other countries.

So my question to the Commissioner is, when are we going to be really clever about this? When are we going to act honestly and be honest in taking investment as our starting point?

 
  
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  Younous Omarjee, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (FR) Mr President, Commissioner, of all the subjects we are discussing here, I would like to emphasise just one: Africa. It is on the continent of Africa that these various issues are the most acute. And it is Africa that has the greatest potential. The reality of demographic change is a two-edged sword.

In less than 40 years, the population of Africa will almost double. Shall we be able to make this dynamic a factor for progress and human development or, as a result of our inability to eradicate poverty, will it become an unbelievably powerful force that destabilises the world at every level?

Development aid is not, I sincerely believe, just a policy of charity or a miserabilist policy. No! True development policy must also be an investment in the future, underpinning great aspirations for Africa itself, aspirations for our continent too. The future growth of the European Union depends on this – as China has understood very well – and world peace depends on it too.

 
  
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  Gay Mitchell (PPE). – Mr President, I would like to thank Charles Goerens and the Commissioner for their presentations.

There are three brief points I want to make. The first is that we need to ensure that there is a favourable environment in which economies in developing countries can grow. This means getting public expenditure in order, making sure it is efficient, and creating a healthy private sector as well as removing excessive burdens on SMEs – small and medium-sized enterprises. We cannot do that on our own, but we can encourage that and we can talk about that and we can get involved with other politicians and try to get that on their agenda. In addition, we need to protect and further develop property rights in order to also serve that agenda. That is what we will give people: an ownership, and a sense of the future.

Secondly, we really do need to address the issue of policy coherence. The Commission itself pointed out that there could be up to EUR 6 billion per year saved if there was greater coherence in our development policy. There needs to be some way for this Parliament to speak with national parliaments, and I urge the Commissioner to use his influence to help us bring that about. We are trying to do that through the Committee on Development so we can bypass reluctant ministers in the Council of Ministers who want to keep all this power to themselves and are exacerbating the situation.

Thirdly, and very briefly, the Commissioner attended a launch on gendercide. I am the rapporteur on gendercide. There are up to 200 million women missing in the world because of gender-based abortion and infanticide. We can change that. We can challenge that. We can bring about a difference that makes it clear you do not need to favour men over women for economic reasons. We have got to make that an issue.

 
  
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  Michèle Striffler (PPE). (FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I too must congratulate Mr Goerens on this excellent report.

In view of the current – difficult – economic and budgetary situation, it is all the more essential for us to make sure that aid is spent effectively and produces the best possible outcome. Resources must be directed more accurately to where they are most needed to reduce poverty. We must give more thought to a differentiated approach on how we give aid.

In its Agenda for Change, the Commission proposes to target its aid on agriculture, prioritising locally developed practices and concentrating on small farm holdings. So it is imperative that the Commission really does focus on aid to the agricultural sector and nutrition in its programming for the period 2014-2020.

Moreover, effective action against poverty also requires a strengthening of synergies and the strategic meshing of humanitarian aid with development aid. This is necessary in order to establish a robust system and launch a process of sustainable development. So 2015 must be the year of development – I would venture to say, sustainable development.

 
  
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  Santiago Fisas Ayxela (PPE). (ES) Mr President, Commissioner, I would first like to congratulate Mr Goerens on his excellent report.

The Agenda for Change is an important roadmap for redefining development cooperation and for striving for better quality and effectiveness of aid, particularly in view of current changes in the new world order, the emergence of new international actors and the necessary process of fiscal consolidation into which we are forced by our current economic situation.

We are pleased that the Commission is making poverty a core element of its differentiation policy. However, we deplore the fact that gross national income has been adopted as the key indicator for implementation of that policy.

Mr President, 70 % of the people in this world whose income is below the poverty threshold live in middle-income countries. If we want to have a real impact on reducing this poverty, we need to take into account, in addition to wealth, other criteria such as the vulnerability of some of those countries, the lack of internal cohesion or the human development indicator.

Many of these countries could also be key players today through triangular or South-South cooperation mechanisms, not to mention drivers of development for the future.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Emer Costello (S&D). – Mr President, I am also speaking on behalf of Michael Cashman, who is the shadow rapporteur for the S&D Group and who has been delayed. First of all, I want to thank the rapporteur for the excellent report and also to thank the Commission for its engagement in the compilation of the report.

We believe that this report has actually achieved a balanced and comprehensive approach to development. We very much welcome the stronger wording on a fairer distribution of wealth, and particularly welcome the emphasis on sustainable and inclusive growth for all.

In relation to differentiation, we do welcome the strong wording on political dialogue with emerging countries on the eradication of poverty through their own internal solidarity, together with appropriate funding from our own side. However, we cannot abruptly stop funding, especially for some of the so-called middle income countries, and particularly those in the Caribbean and the Pacific.

I believe that we must have a roadmap or an exit strategy, particularly in relation to smaller countries. Those countries can be more vulnerable, and that vulnerability needs to be taken into consideration when considering funding for middle income countries.

 
  
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  Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE). – Mr President, the European Union development policy is essentially one of the most intertwined policy areas, with direct links to the foreign and security policy, human rights, climate and fisheries policies, the European Neighbourhood policy and so on.

Yet, as the rapporteur has rightly pointed out, the political dialogue between international actors, as well as the cooperation between Member States, the Commission and the EEAS, is still in a quite disorganised state. Securing consistency between the different policies, as well as the activities, of the actors of the EU and its Member States should be the responsibility of the Commission. I would therefore call on the Commissioner to make further efforts to implement Policy Coherence for Development.

I would also like to point out that when discussing development policy we should be thinking of a much wider range of recipients than the ACP countries only. The know-how of the Baltic Member States has been successfully used to encourage development in Ukraine and the South Caucasus, for example.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL). (PT) Mr President, EU development policy must be substantially altered. Firstly, it requires sufficient resources which are at least consistent with the commitments made and with the objectives laid down at international level, particularly in the framework of the UN. It must also be altered to allow developing countries to take greater ownership of aid that can foster their sovereign development.

It is with concern that we face trends and orientations such as a change in budget support and state subsidies for so-called blending mechanisms, which weaken and undermine aid and introduce uncertainty where predictability is required. It is with equal concern that we face the imposition, under the guise of ‘good governance’, of practices and policies in many fields, such as economic organisation, taxation, justice and others. These policies must arise out of developing country choices and options, in line with their situation and specific conditions, rather than being exported from Europe.

In conclusion, meanwhile, much deeper consideration must be given to whether sectoral policies are consistent with development objectives.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Mr President, the European Union can be justifiably proud of its contribution to development aid for many years now. I suppose this was recognised in the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, not just for development aid outside the European Union but obviously, also, for peace within the European Union.

While some cynics ridiculed the award, most of us can be very proud of what has been achieved. It is an encouragement for us to continue doing what we can, both internally in trying to create and keep peace, and abroad in terms of development aid – and particularly as regards helping countries towards peace and sustainability through the development of their economies. That is a very important point.

Finally, the point made by my colleague, Mr Fisas Ayxela is important, which is that GDP should not be the only indicator for assessing the wealth of countries and where best we can invest.

 
  
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  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI). – Mr President, the report refers to the impressive rise of China, India and Brazil. For ‘impressive’ I would substitute the word ‘threatening’ – threatening to the manufacturing sectors of Europe and particularly to that in my own country, the United Kingdom.

The report expresses surprise that their growth has failed to reduce their poverty, but of course it is on their poverty and sometimes slave labour conditions that their growth has been based. The Commission concedes that the emergent economies should be eliminated from development assistance, but only in the long term. In the meantime, they are destroying our manufacturing while we are relieving them of the burden of looking after their own poor.

Globalisation is applauded in the report on the doubtful ground that it reduces inequalities between countries, which is another way of saying that the emergent countries are becoming richer at the expense of some of our workers. However, inequalities within countries are becoming greater as workers in Member States are thrown on the unemployment scrapheap.

 
  
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  Patrice Tirolien (S&D). (FR) Mr President, to my mind, the Commission’s proposed Agenda for Change raises many questions, chief amongst them the matter of how exactly the principle of differentiation is to be applied. The Commission’s wish is that, from 2014, the countries receiving EU development aid should be chosen purely on the basis of the criterion of per capita wealth. As Baroness Ashton has said, this is not just a matter of money; it merits a proper policy debate on how we define our priorities for international cooperation. And I do not think this differentiated approach is consistent with the spirit of the Cotonou Agreement.

I firmly believe that those ACP countries that have recorded good economic performances should be encouraged in their transition towards more sustainable growth; they should not be improperly penalised for having managed to secure growth through discipline, good governance and prudent economic policy.

 
  
 

(End of the catch-the-eye procedure)

 
  
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  Andris Piebalgs, Member of the Commission. Mr President, there have been a lot of interesting points. I would like very rapidly to go through the main points and main answers.

To Mr Kaczmarek: I believe that what we are trying to do is to make aid a catalyst to achieve the results, plus with PCD – Policy Coherence for Development – where we could achieve definitely even more and stronger change. I would definitely say that our PHARE initiative is transparency in extractive industries, as was proposed by my colleague Mr Barnier. If we capitalise, we really can make a substantial change. I would very much like to thank him for his support for the agenda for change.

To Mr Cortés Lastra: we have discussed differentiation for a long time. Differentiation is not an ambition per se. Differentiation is just the realities of what is happening in the world. But we are keeping new instruments, like cooperation instruments, that we will continue to use with our partner countries. In a lot of countries, we should continue the poverty eradication strategy because the economic level and size of the countries definitely require other forms of cooperation.

To Mrs Sargentini: we are investing and changing our approach during this period’s financial framework, according to the agenda for change.

To Mr Younous: Africa is our absolute priority, because Africa is make or break. It could be a continent of prosperity and it could be a continent of complete disaster. So I believe that our engagement with Africa is crucial, because no one else will support the African nations in their quest for prosperity. In my contacts with African countries I believe that they are very much looking to Europe, not only for money but also very much for encouragement and their development. If we can capitalise on that, I believe Africa would be the driver of world growth, not the continent where there is currently the most insecurity.

Regarding what Mr Mitchell said, we also work with the private sector and others, because this also strengthens the human rights agenda. If you just speak about the human rights agenda without addressing small and medium-sized enterprises and property rights, it is always vulnerable, but if you have a broader discussion, then this helps. Also in regard to what he said about the gendercide issue, we have worked on this and we should continue to do so because it is clearly a human rights agenda but it really needs a push.

Mr Mitchell’s idea about the European Parliament and national parliaments is very interesting and we should reflect on this. I started by being too shy with national parliaments. I came to national parliaments to speak with them as if starting from scratch and discovered with pleasure that they are actually much more engaged than we usually suspect, because these are some of the policies that everybody wants. What type of world will we be living in? I think that is why I believe the debate is essential. It is not just a question of how much money we have to give. It is actually concerns the world we are living in now and the world we would like to live in in 15 or 20 years, and the debate is very much alive.

To Ms Striffler: agriculture, food security and nutrition will remain our priority area, and there we have a new initiative. We have put in place for the first time a nutrition obligation to reduce the number of children left stunted by seven million by 2025. For me, if there is a poverty phase – and actually this phase is a post-2015 development agenda – it is a malnourished child, because it is a shame that it has happened and we know how difficult it is to achieve. As long as there is one child in such a situation, we will not have done our duty. I believe it is very crucial that we focus on this.

Regarding Mr Fisas Ayxela and differentiation, it is true that there will be pockets of poverty in China, but I believe that if we have a definite global framework and China does what it is committing itself to – fighting poverty – then I believe that they are capable of eradicating poverty.

I believe this 2015 framework should be overarching, and if a country puts in a lot of effort inside the country, we should recognise that effort. But it is not for us to put in small things here and there to address some particular aspects. It is not sufficient, and I believe the agenda should be broader.

To Ms Costello, on middle-income countries: we need criteria. We should be objective. Mr Goerens himself started this process – and I fully agree – when we discussed the very difficult banana-accompanying measures. It was then that we started to ask what the criteria are that we are addressing, and for the first time it was very clear that Parliament now has criteria. If I come to the middle-income countries with a fair attitude, I need to base myself on criteria. Is the GDP good enough or not? Well, this is under debate, but I think we are achieving a consistent approach.

On Ms Ojuland’s point, the EEAS and the Commission are working well together. I would really say that we have definitely a much better situation than Louis Michel had with his colleagues and others. We are very coherent in our approach. We are improving on it and they are working very much on strategy.

Turning to Mr Ferreira, commitments need to be fulfilled, and I think the most important commitment we have made is that of 0.7 % of GNI for development causes in 2015. I believe the push from this House is crucial, especially when we come now to the multiannual financial framework. The part which we have put in the EU budget is exactly that part of our commitment of 0.7 %. It is not different, it is part of it and it is a crucial part that should be continued.

I would finish with Mr Kelly, on the Nobel Peace Prize. I think that this prize is very much justified. I am Latvian, and I think the EU has given us a lot of encouragement. If my country is in a situation of security, peace and relative prosperity, a lot of that is definitely due to the EU being there. It has made changes that would be impossible any other way. I believe the EU experience is definitely something that we need to promote in a lot of regions, and particularly in Africa where all the countries are rather small. Even South Africa, which is the biggest country of all, is actually small. So the only way Africa can evolve is by working together and for this the EU gives a good example and encouragement.

To Mr Brons I would say that we do not necessarily support countries. While we try to work through countries to strength things, we support people, and this should not be misunderstood. We know that the most sustainable way of addressing poverty is by supporting governments of countries with a credible strategy. But our support is always to the people of those countries, and sometimes we make this distinction. As regards differentiation of ACP countries, we have the Cotonou Agreement until 2020. We will be responsible towards that agreement. We have a dialogue, in particular, with ACP countries and we respond to requests from our ACP partner countries. We do not make unilateral moves that change the nature of the relationship. At the same time, we should also in this House encourage discussion on what should come after the Cotonou Agreement and on what comes after 2020.

 
  
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  Charles Goerens, rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, after all the plaudits heaped upon me, I shall endeavour to remain modest.

Thank you, first of all, to the House for its verdict on the work we have done in committee. I know that not everything has been accepted unconditionally, notably the concept of differentiation – in every language of the Union and in every respect. Of course there are pockets of poverty in the emerging countries – big ones, even. There are also 112 million poor people in Europe. That is not a reason to ignore the poverty that exists in the emerging countries and in Europe. Let us stop ranking our own poor against the poor in other countries! Different instruments exist, depending on the country where these poor people live.

Our cooperation policy must be neither saintly and perfect nor timid. It must be bold, coherent, selective and sustainable. This, in essence, is the conclusion I draw from the work we have just completed. I leave this debate with some questions, but also some reasons for satisfaction. The questions include that of whether or not we shall achieve 0.7 % of GNI by 2015. Times are hard. So we must not be complacent about the effort required of us. If we do not discharge our responsibilities for development, no one will do it for us.

And how can we inform our fellow citizens better? I see some cause for satisfaction here. It stems from the fact that, from the answers which Commissioner Piebalgs has given, it seems virtually certain that 2015 will be the European Year for (responsible) Development.

Another cause for satisfaction, if this idea is carried through – and I do not doubt for a moment that it will be – is that we shall be able to announce in 2015 what we regard as the essentials of development cooperation policy and what the best partnerships should be. We still have a little time to bring our full weight to bear. The rest of the world may be advancing at an extraordinary pace, but Europe is still the foremost player.

One of my chief causes for satisfaction is the great expertise we possess. We should try to demonstrate this expertise to our fellow citizens and to the rest of the world. I have visited so many developing countries where Europe is by far the biggest aid donor but where perceptions of the European Union, as a player, are inversely proportional to the efforts and the funds we invest.

I think 2015 will be a good time to put an end to this misplaced modesty.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: RAINER WIELAND
Vice-President

 
  
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  President. − The joint debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Tuesday, 23 October 2012, at 18.00.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. – (RO) Alongside trade policy and political relations, EU development policy is a fundamental part of the European Union’s external action. Its main objective is to reduce poverty. To achieve this objective, the support given to developing countries to improve access to education is essential, when over a hundred million children worldwide are not in education. Without an education, these children have no chance of achieving the professional training they need to be able to enter the labour market later, and, at the same time, efforts to combat poverty in these countries are made more difficult.

I therefore consider the EU’s support essential so that as many children as possible, especially those living in rural areas, can take part in educational programmes – primary education and good quality training for work. Similarly, the EU should support the development of sectoral plans that also take into account the specific cultural factors of each region or country, with an emphasis on involving civil society in these countries as much as possible in implementing them.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) Although, according to the UN report, the number of hungry people has fallen worldwide, every eighth person still does not have enough to eat. And, in Africa, the trend is actually the reverse. A number of extremely serious mistakes have been made in development aid. We should be just as concerned by the fact that, according to an IMF study, more than 50 % of the public expenditure of 33 countries depends on international development aid as by the fact that the aid that is given – in Somalia for instance – is misused to finance war. It is equally worrying that development aid is being used to promote agricultural projects under which the local population is forcibly driven out, which further exacerbates hunger and poverty. The EU has promoted that development, for instance with its biofuel rules. It is just as unacceptable that, after giving them debt relief, China is now encouraging them to take on new debts in order to secure raw materials supplies. What is clear is that we need a number of changes and that more must be done to check the population explosion, as that would make a major contribution towards combating hunger and poverty. Nor is it acceptable for states to want development aid but not even be prepared to take back their own citizens.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. – (DE) The report addresses an important problem: development aid for middle-income countries. This is to be gradually reduced. At the same time, however, we should aim at cooperation directed specifically at the poorest regions in those countries. We need triangular cooperation: between the northern donor countries, the new emerging countries and the developing countries. The BRICS countries must take on more responsibility when they operate in the developing countries (e.g. China/Africa). The focus must always be on help for self-help, which can be achieved by, for instance, microcredits for SMEs. Granting development aid must also be tied to: (1) respect for human rights, especially the protection of religious or ethnic minorities, and respect for women’s and children’s rights, and (2) cooperation by the recipient countries in taking back illegal migrants!

 
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