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Tuesday, 12 April 2005 - Strasbourg
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

European Parliament resolution on the role of the European Union in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (2004/2252(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 8 September 2000, which sets out the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as criteria collectively established by the international community for the elimination of poverty,

–   having regard to the successive Human Development Reports drawn up by the United Nations Development Programme,

–   having regard to the Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) - Least Developed Countries 2002: Escaping the Poverty Trap,

–   having regard to the annual reports by the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, the latest of which dates from 27 August 2004,

–   having regard to the report by the UN Millennium Project Task Force headed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs "Investing in Development: a Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals",

–   having regard to UNICEF's annual State of the World's Children reports and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child,

–   having regard to the final declarations and conclusions of international conferences, in particular the International Conference on Financing for Development (Monterrey, 2002), the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002), the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (Brussels, 2001), the Fourth World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference (Doha, 2001), the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) (Cairo, 1994), the UN General Assembly's 1999 special session to review progress towards meeting the ICPD goals ("Cairo + 5"), and the World Education Forum (Dakar, 2000),

–   having regard to national reservations expressed by EU Member States in the final declarations and conclusions of the above-mentioned conferences,

–   having regard to the commitments made by the EU at the Barcelona European Council in March 2002 in advance of the Monterrey Conference,

–   having regard to Articles 177-181 of the Treaty establishing the European Community and Articles III-316 to 318 and III-321 of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe,

–   having regard to the Commission's Report on "Millennium Development Goals 2000-2004" (SEC(2004)1379),

–   having regard to the Declaration of the Council and the Commission of 20 November 2000 on the European Community's development policy,

–   having regard to the Conclusions of the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) of 22-23 November 2004,

–   having regard to the Communications from the President of the Commission in agreement with Vice-President Wallström "Strategic objectives 2005 – 2009: Europe 2010: A Partnership for European Renewal - Prosperity, Solidarity and Security" and "Commission work programme for 2005",

–   having regard to the Commission Communication concerning the proposal for a Council decision on the adoption of the position of the Community within the ACP-EC Council of Ministers regarding the settlement of all ACP HIPC LDCs" special loans remaining after full application of HIPC debt alleviation mechanisms (COM(2001)0210) and its resolution of 25 April 2002(1) thereon,

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 January 2005 on debt relief for developing countries(2),

–   having regard to the World Food Summit's pledge in 1996 to reduce the number of hungry people by half by the year 2015,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Development and the opinion of the Committee on International Trade(A6-0075/2005),

A.   whereas the EU provides more than 50% of development aid globally and considering that in September 2000 the EU Member States and the President of the Commission signed the Millennium Declaration and in December 2001 the UN General Assembly approved the MDGs,

B.   recognising that the MDGs, which underscore efforts to meet poverty eradication objectives, must be considered as part of a broader agenda promoting sustainable development, justice, equity, governance and the rule of law,

C.   whereas according to the 2002 UNCTAD Report on LDCs, the number of people living in extreme poverty has more than doubled over the last thirty years, rising from 138 million in the 1960s to 307 million in the 1990s and if current trends persist, the number of people living on less than USD 1 a day will rise from 307 million to 420 million by 2015,

D.   whereas action against poverty requires above all a radical change of policy in both industrialised and developing countries in order to address the structural causes of poverty, including unfair world trade rules, unaffordable debt payments by developing countries to international financial institutions, and unfair distribution of wealth,

E.   recognising that meeting the MDG targets implies a doubling of the current amount of aid and maintaining it at that level for at least a decade,

F.   recognising simultaneous efforts to identify additional innovative sources of funding, while recognising at the same time that the quality and content of aid is equally important,

G.   regretting that two thirds of developing countries spend more on debt servicing than on basic social services,

H.   recognising that many heavily indebted countries require 100% debt relief and should reach 2015 without debt overhang,

I.   whereas the 2002 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/Development Assistance Committee (OECD/DAC) Peer Review criticised the Community for the "lack of an overall Community strategy and the fact that the objectives of Community development policy are too numerous, too vague and not ranked in any way", and whereas no real efforts have been made in the past to ensure that Community aid and aid through EU Member States complement each other,

J.   noting that just 10% of world's health resources go to the needs of 90% of the world's population and that 95% of the 38 million people with AIDS live in developing countries,

K.   acknowledging the importance of prevention, but also emphasising the need to provide antiretroviral drugs to 3 million people by the end of 2005,

L.   whereas recently, major progress has been made with regard to the most harmful form of the four human malaria parasites, which will open the way for new treatments,

M.   alarmed that higher HIV/AIDS infection rates exist in Sub-Saharan Africa where expenditure on health and education has been drastically reduced,

N.   whereas some tropical diseases are treatable but the drugs are either unaffordable, no longer produced or lacking in quality or effectiveness,

O.   recognising that in Sub-Saharan Africa 57% of adults with HIV are women and deploring the pressures which exist to undermine progressive policies on sexual and reproductive health rights, and are resulting in an increase in unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions,

P.   whereas there are important links between environmental sustainability, trade and development policies and the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, and whereas the livelihoods of the rural poor depend almost entirely on sound management of the natural resources base - forests, soils, range lands, marine resources as well as fresh water resources,

Q.   noting the recent publication of the alarming Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report, with its conclusion that approximately 60% (15 out of 24) of the ecosystem services examined are being degraded or used unsustainably, including fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water purification, and the regulation of regional and local climate, natural hazards, and pests, and that the world's poorest people suffer most from these ecosystem changes,

R.   recognising the potential impact of the Doha Development Round and the need for fair and equitable rules-based trade systems designed to correct the trading imbalances in global trade, especially where Africa is concerned,

S.   acknowledging that development cooperation in the past has been built primarily on sector strategies and whereas a more systems-based approach in addressing the MDGs would be beneficial because of the clear synergies that exist,

1.  Welcomes the Commission's Report on Millennium Development Goals 2000-2004 and looks forward to the EU synthesis report proposing further measures to ensure that Community aid is fully directed towards the implementation of the MDGs;

2.  Emphasises that poverty reduction through the achievement of the MDGs and the Millennium Declaration must be recognised unambiguously as the overarching framework for EU development policy, and that this must be reflected clearly in all relevant policy and legislative proposals; but believes that the MDGs should not be seen as a technical matter which will be resolved simply by providing more money without identifying and tackling the underlying causes of poverty;

3.  Regrets that whilst MDGs 1- 7 have clear deadlines, this is not the case for MDG 8;

4.  Stresses the link between the MDGs, nationally-owned poverty reduction strategies, macroeconomic policy, effective public expenditure management and harmonised aid in support of good governance and good policies;

5.  Is convinced that the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and Country Strategy Papers (CSPs) could be important tools for achieving the MDGs but thinks that they need to be revised to better support the MDGs, and calls for the "quick wins" to be enshrined in PRSPs and CSPs to make them part of a sustainable and structural approach; believes that the process of developing an MDG-based PRSP needs to be open and consultative, involving all key stakeholders, both national and international;

6.  Believes that national and regional development policies must be democratically set by the populations themselves and that their respective governments should be accountable to them through democratic institutions and not by conditionality geared to donors" strategic interests;

7.  Believes that the fight against poverty includes the recognition of the right of a country or a region to democratically define its own policies, priorities and strategies to enhance sustainable food production and economic development by mobilising its natural and human resources and local knowhow;

8.  Stresses that all means must be used to attain the MDGs and that this necessitates the broadest possible partnership of relevant stakeholders, especially with national parliaments and civil society to provide the innovation, resources and capacity needed;

9.  Takes the view that full recognition must be accorded to the right and duty of every country to guarantee the food security of its population and to protect itself as and where required for that purpose from other countries" exports that could undermine it;

10.  Considers that public services need to be consolidated and developed in order to remedy the great scourges linked to poverty, such as epidemics, illiteracy, drinking-water shortages, and the unavailability of sewage treatment;

11.  Calls for an integrated approach - as opposed to a sector-based approach - in addressing the MDGs;

12.  Commends those Member States that have reached or passed 0.7% GNI, whilst noting the worrying trend set by some to begin a process of decreasing aid levels, as well as abandoning previous commitments on timetables;

13.  Stresses that although the EU seems currently on target for its intermediary objective of 0.39% of GNI for Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2006, there are large disparities in the performance of its Member States and therefore calls on those Members States still lagging behind to commit themselves to a clear timetable and deadlines for reaching the 0.7% target before 2015;

14.  Welcomes the progress already achieved by many of the 10 new EU Member States in dramatically increasing levels of ODA and looks forward to a continuation of this trend;

15.  Stresses that the target of 20 % for basic education and health should be included in the budget of the EU and the European Development Fund, expanding on the existing target of 35 % for basic social services;

16.  Supports the proposal for regular assessments of progress towards ODA targets to be made at the Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) and GAERC Councils, whilst calling for Member States to set annual targets for overall aid and aid to LDCs;

17.  Urges the Commission to examine its own resource allocation to development and to commit itself to increase significantly its development spending over the course of the next financial perspective;

18.  Calls on the EU to take concrete action against poverty by adopting a coherent policy between its trade, development cooperation and common agricultural policies to avoid direct or indirect negative impacts on the economy of developing countries;

19.  Urges the Commission to explore innovative sources of finance and to examine all suggestions which have been put forward as alternative ways of securing funding for development programmes in addition to the commitment of giving 0.7% of GNI to ODA;

20.  Calls for debt relief by phasing out the debts of heavily indebted countries, especially LDCs, for those countries whose governments respect human rights, the principle of good governance and give priority to poverty eradication;

21.  Calls for targets for debt relief to be linked not only to debt export ratios but also to MDG-based needs;

22.  Urges the EU to ensure adequate international funding of currently under funded research on illnesses that affect citizens of developing countries;

23.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to strengthen their partnerships with developing countries in a way which encourages predictability, mutual accountability and reciprocal obligations;

24.  Firmly believes that by tackling together the problem of corruption and illegal financial practices under the provisions of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, the ACP and EU countries stand to make a major contribution to the fight against poverty, crime and terrorism, and at the same time to generate political stability and promote social and economic development;

25.  Stresses the importance of public financial management computerisation, within the wider framework of e-government, in order to better tackle inefficient bureaucracies and avoid lack of transparency;

26.  Urges the Commission to significantly strengthen efforts for greater complementarity between the development cooperation activities of Member States and the activities of the Commission, based on the comparative advantages of each donor;

27.  Welcomes initiatives such as the EU Donor Atlas, which attempt to coordinate development assistance across the Member States, and encourages the Commission to complete and refine this instrument so that it can be used to identify areas where progress in harmonisation can be made most quickly;

28.  In this regard, calls for specific commitments and timetables on harmonisation and calls for the development of indicators and benchmarks intended to monitor the engagement of all partners at country level;

29.  Emphasises the opportunities provided by the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) revolution to address specific poverty-related problems, such as ICT for education, ICT for improved health care, ICT for good governance etc;

30.  Stresses the importance of access to modern energy services for the poor; recognises at the same time that developing countries do not have to repeat the mistakes of industrialised countries and hence should be given specific support to invest in energy technologies that are clean and efficient;

31.  Calls on the Commission to increase funding and to set up a global plan for development education and information centred around the MDGs;

32.  Urges all Member States of the EU to fully implement the Rome Declaration on Harmonization of 25 February 2003 commitments to improve the delivery of aid and in principle to untie aid;

33.  Urges the Commission to ensure that the EU is at the forefront of efforts to ensure that basic education is free and compulsory and insists that this must be combined with substantial new resources and more targeted spending of existing resources;

34.  Believes that it is an illusion to achieve the MDG of halving poverty and hunger by 2015, providing free education for all and improving access to health care, while developing countries spend four times more on repaying debts than they spend on basic social services;

35.  Insists that, given that the major challenge facing the World Bank Education Fast Track Initiative (FTI) is the lack of external finance, the Commission should seek to increase funding for education and for the FTI;

36.  Stresses the importance of paying special attention to the education of girls, since girls who have been educated go on to have smaller and healthier families and help to increase productivity and reduce poverty;

37.  Calls for special attention to be focused on orphans and boys and girls suffering social exclusion, who are disproportionately affected by the consequences of inadequate access to education;

38.  Urges the Commission to explore how an early and positive contribution can be made through the preparation of a package, including malarial bednets, immunisation through the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) and, not least as a measure in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the provision of condoms; Member States of the EU could collaborate with this venture at country level; stresses that these actions need to be embedded in a long-term strategy to make them part of a sustainable approach;

39.  Calls on the Commission to take the lead in the fight against malaria, to pool resources and launch appropriate and comprehensive measures to control and eradicate this pandemic in the long-term, with particular emphasis on prevention;

40.  Calls, in particular, for public research to be increased and private sector investment to be mobilised in order to accelerate research on vaccines;

41.  Emphasises that the availability and affordability of basic health care services is an absolute condition for a successful implementation of all health policies in developing countries;

42.  Supports the Commission's agreement on the need for available and affordable medicines and emphasises the need for careful scrutiny of the implementation of TRIPS;

43.  Calls for funding to deal with health emergencies in developing countries and for country governments to make health a priority;

44.  Points out that access to drinking-water and a balanced diet is vital for public health; maintains, therefore, that access to drinking-water is essential in order to combat poverty and the diseases caused by a lack of drinking-water;

45.  Calls on the developing countries to regenerate public services and basic health care systems and believes that European aid must serve above all to support the domestic efforts of developing countries to strengthen human, institutional, and infrastructure capacity;

46.  Calls for a substantial increase in the number of health professionals because more are leaving their profession than are being trained;

47.  Calls for an increased EU contribution to the Global Health Fund, since money so far pledged for 2005 is only 1/4 of the amount needed and calls on the EU and others to work to avoid duplication of effort and promote national ownership of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria policies;

48.  Urges the EU to continue to lead the way on sexual and reproductive health rights by maintaining levels of funding for a broad range of sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and safe abortion services where legal;

49.  Calls for a target under MDG 5 of universal access to sexual and reproductive health services by 2015, with related indicators, ensuring the same or a faster rate of progress amongst the poor and other marginalized or vulnerable groups; calls also for related indicators to be appropriately identified under the remaining seven MDGs;

50.  Stresses the need for a rights based approach to children in all Commission programming and evaluation, and that since children's rights are crosscutting issues, they should be systematically maintained across all instruments and programming;

51.  Believes that gender specific priorities need to be refocused in Community development policy as basic rights and part of the governance criteria applied under the Cotonou Agreement and elsewhere;

52.  Maintains that women must cease to be marginalised, thus enabling them to play a central role in drawing up and monitoring poverty reduction strategies based on the MDGs and other vitally important general reforms, especially as regards regional and local government;

53.  Welcomes and supports the Commission's intention to reinvigorate its relationship with Africa through working closely with the New Partnership for Africa's Development , the African Union and recent initiatives such as the Commission for Africa;

54.  Reiterates the need identified in Article 178 of the EC Treaty for the Community to consider, if necessary through impact studies, whether its development policy objectives would be undermined by other policy actions;

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

56.  Insists that adequate attention be paid to the environment at the country level, to contribute to the achievement of MDG 7, by explicitly including environment and sustainable development in the regional and CSPs;

57.  Stresses that support for the protection and the regeneration of the life supporting systems, such as healthy soils, forests and marine resources, as well as the sound management of fresh-water resources, is an indispensable component of poverty reduction programmes and that such interventions must be given priority in EU development cooperation activities;

58.  Fully endorses the conclusions of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report, that continued destruction of the world's ecosystems will act as a barrier to achieving the MDGs; further agrees that significant policy and institutional changes are necessary to reverse widespread degradation and urges the Commission to incorporate the detailed recommendations of the Report in its synthesis report and future work plans;

59.  Asks the Council to call upon UNEP's Governing Council so as to ensure that the MDG Review summit in September 2005 launches a comprehensive review of the social and environmental consequences of the trade liberalisation policies implemented to date, in order to ensure that these support poverty eradication as effectively as possible;

60.  Recalls that trade with fair rules, although not an absolute remedy for world poverty, can positively contribute to the achievement of the MDGs through its impact on economic growth;

61.  Takes note of recent studies by UNCTAD and other institutions that show that the extensive trade liberalisation in LDCs has been translated too little into sustained and substantial poverty reduction and has contributed to a decline in the terms of trade of developing countries, in particular of African countries;

62.  Calls on the Commission to adjust its cooperation and trade policies as far as possible in order to help governments of developing countries to maintain and develop public services, particularly those guaranteeing access for the population as a whole to drinking water, health services, education, transport and energy;

63.  Reiterates, with regard to discussions on the effects of liberalisation in the water sector, that water-related services should, as a matter of principle, stay fully under public responsibility and control, leaving it to the national, regional and local authorities to safeguard this principle, and urges the Commission to stay in line with this opinion;

64.   reaffirms that, as stated in its resolution of 11 March 2004(3) on Internal Market Strategy, water is a shared resource of mankind and that access to water, especially for the poorest communities of the South, assumes the proportions of a fundamental human right to be promoted and safeguarded;

65.  Regrets that there is no timetable in place for the elimination of agricultural export subsidies; considers, therefore, that it should exert pressure for such a timetable to be drawn up;

66.  Calls on leaders of the EU and other industrialised countries to take concrete action to achieve the MDGs by eliminating export subsidies which undermine local food production and economic development;

67.  Calls on the Commission to enhance the development content of current WTO negotiations through a focus on food security and rural employment as among the most effective elements in poverty eradication, inter alia through the introduction of a "Development Box" in the WTO Agreement on Agriculture to enable poorer countries better to address food security concerns and preserve rural livelihoods and through a complete end to subsidies for EU agricultural exports;

68.  Welcomes the Commission's acknowledgement of the need for Special and Differential Treatment, hearing the concern of developing countries about the impact of liberalisation of trade and reciprocity;

69.  Calls on the Commission to promote urgent WTO reform in order to put sustainability and poverty eradication at the top of the trade negotiation agenda, and to enhance real special and differential treatment (S&D);

70.  Asks the Commission to include in the priority actions of the MDG Synthesis Report action by the EU on the stabilisation of commodity prices, including the review of international supply management mechanisms, support for proposals to include commodity prices in the current round of WTO negotiations and participation in the financing of the Task Force on Commodities proposed by UNCTAD;

71.  Recalls that at the end of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) negotiations no ACP country should in its trade relations find itself in a more unfavourable situation after 2007 than under current arrangements, and that there is no a priori guarantee or commitment that they will sign up to any EPA at the end of 2007;

72.  Concerning the negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements with ACP partners, calls on the Commission to ensure that they constitute instruments for ACP development and poverty eradication, inter alia through the continuation of non-reciprocity in market access with a view to ensuring a fair place for ACP partners in world trade, a focus on supply side constraints and safeguards for sensitive products and the strengthening of existing regional integration efforts, and to take the initiative to revise or clarify Article 24 of the GATT Agreement;

73.  Urges that full account be taken of the fact that ACP countries are often heavily dependent on primary commodities, which are particularly vulnerable to price fluctuation and tariff escalation, and stresses the importance of diversification, the development of processing industries and SMEs in those countries;

74.  Calls upon the Commission to support, in a transitional period, the principle of commercial non-reciprocity which must govern relations between the industrialised and developing countries, and to develop flexibility towards ACP countries during the EPA negotiations in view of their level of development, of the relatively small size of their economies and of their financial, development and trade needs, and to ensure that, in reality, EPAs become instruments for sustainable development in the ACP countries;

75.  Calls upon the Commission to draw up valid EPA alternatives, such as extending the Everything-But-Arms initiative to all non-LDC countries or improving the EU's GSP+ proposal, for those ACP countries that may express an unwillingness to enter into an EPA;

76.  Stresses the importance of capacity building for trade and the need for additional resources from the EU to enhance the ACP countries' ability to identify needs and strategies, to negotiate and to support regional integration and assist this process, and in particular for diversification and to support regional integration and prepare for liberalisation by enhancing production, supply and trading capacity and offsetting adjustment costs as well as to increase their ability to attract investment;

77.  Stresses that capacity building for local markets and for trade is at least as important as market access and that funding needs to be made available for this and for diversification and support, in particular for bananas, rice and sugar;

78.  Stresses that the Council should take early measures to implement the WTO Decision of 30 August 2003 on the implementation of Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health and calls on the Commission to urge the Member States to implement fully the new regulation as soon as possible;

79.  Stresses that the Council should speed up the decision-making process with regard to the reform of EU trade policies on sensitive products;

80.  Calls on the Commission to increase its trade-related assistance and to support capacity building, which is essential if the poorest countries are to be able to tackle the increased competition resulting from market liberalisation;

81.  Calls for a revision of the statutes and the mandate of the European Investment Bank, which would allow for a specialised department operating on the basis of a genuine development mandate;

82.  Believes that the MDGs will never be met without consistent policies benefiting women, children, the elderly and the disabled;

83.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the accession countries, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the United Nations and the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD.

(1) OJ C 131 E, 5.6.2003, p. 167.
(2) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2005)0008.
(3) OJ C 102 E, 28.4.2004, p. 857.

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