On 28 September, Gerd Müller, German Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, told the Development Committee that the presidency has several priorities on development:
- to expand the EU's emergency measures in partner countries so as to stabilise them in times of crisis like COVID-19 or climate change by working together as a stronger Europe in the world;
- to continue working on the preparation of a joint EU-Africa strategy in view of the EU-Africa Union summit, which has been postponed to next year;
- to conclude the negotiations on the content of a new agreement between the EU and the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (post-Cotonou agreement);
- to push forward the implementation of the 2030 Agenda together with partner countries and adopt among other things an ambitious EU Gender Action Plan III;
- to expand the EU's activities on global health, food security and water supply and, in particular, to strengthen multilateral organisations, for instance, the World Health Organization (WHO), in addition to joint platforms with business and civil society;
- to increase public revenue, by introducing, for instance, rules for a global minimum level of taxation (OECD reform proposals) and a European-wide financial transaction tax;
- to achieve better compliance with human rights, environmental and social standards by increasing corporate responsibility in global supply chains;
- to set up a common and strong instrument for the EU's external action.
In the debate, MEPs, asked the Federal Minister how he was planning to make progress, on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, given social-economic and environmental challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the developing world, and the preservation of the Africa, Caribbean, Pacific-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in post-Cotonou agreement. On the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument - NDICI, MEPs stressed that Parliament will play a clear role in the adoption of programming documents. Some MEPs welcomed the agreement on the EU long-term budget but expressed concerns about the proposed cuts in funding for external action. MEPs questioned how the German’s presidency was planning to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a huge impact on developing countries by increasing health-related needs, and worsening the economic situation of vulnerable populations.
Some MEPs stressed the need for fair and balanced provisions to address the root causes of irregular migration whilst providing room for more legal migration pathways and for more exchanges at all levels between the EU and Africa. MEPs urged the Presidency to support stronger wording in future agreement on sexual and reproductive health and rights,-which are indispensable to achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030.
The Minister, stressed that the German presidency’s intend to expand on the “Team Europe” approach, to strengthen joint programming in the EU and to focus on issues such as climate change, women’s’ rights, digitalisation, food security, and due diligence in global supply chains. He called for a "Marshall Plan with Africa” - a new kind of collaboration, a political partnership between equals which offers support for the continent’s own agenda based on African solutions. Minister Müller added that such partnership would include strengthening collaboration with Africa in the framework of the European Green Deal, adding, ‘we cannot save nature only by acting in Europe’. In this context, he pointed out that the funds foreseen for the developing world in the context of COVID-19 dwarf in comparison with what is foreseen to be spent within the EU, and that he counts on the European Parliament to correct the MFF in that regard. In his view, we will not achieve a single SDG if we do not invest more. The Minister absolutely supported the maintenance of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. He stressed the Presidency’s commitment to the sustainable development goals by 2030 including for instance by strengthening funding sources and transparency frameworks. “I believe that the establishment of a future European Development Bank, under the umbrella of the European Investment Bank, has to be accelerated”, Minister Müller, added.
“I call on Member States to join efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which are increasingly under threat not least due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With regard to the ongoing post-Cotonou negotiations, I can only once more reiterate that, without maintaining the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament will not give its consent", said the Chairman of the Committee on Development Tomas Tobé (EPP, SE).
You can watch the debate again.