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EU Presidency Statement - Special High Level meeting of ECOSOC with the Bretton Woods Institutions and the WTO

Summary: April 26, 2004: Address by Mr. Charlie Mc Creevy T.D., Minister for Finance of Ireland, to the Special High Level meeting of ECOSOC with the Bretton Woods Institutions and the WTO (New York)

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Acceding Countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the Candidate Countries Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey and the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro align themselves with this statement.

Having just attended the Spring meetings of the Bretton Woods Institutions in Washington, I thought it was particularly important to come here to the United Nations to participate in the ECOSOC Special High Level Meeting. One of the most innovative and constructive aspects of the process which resulted in the Monterrey Consensus was the integrated and coordinated contribution of the UN, the BWIs and the WTO. It is essential to preserve and build on this collaborative approach between organisations which play a key role in financing for development.

In Washington, at the Development Committee, we discussed the global monitoring of the Millennium Development Goals and debt sustainability. These are also among the issues which will be discussed here at the UN. Our discussions at this High Level Meeting should aim to reinforce coherence, coordination and cooperation between the relevant international organisations and also at the national level, coherently integrating finance, trade and development policies.

Our meeting today takes place against the background of a number of major reports, both from the UN and from the World Bank, which highlight the faltering progress of many countries in sub Saharan Africa towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. For example, the 2004 Global Monitoring Report, which we have just considered in Washington, notes that only eight countries representing 15% of this region's population are likely to achieve the first MDG to halve income poverty between 1990 and 2015. In general, progress in this region is now seriously off track.

The situation in sub Saharan Africa is of profound concern to the European Union. We recognise the progress which has been made in the region in consolidating democratic principles, good governance, as well as respect for the rule of law and human rights. We also recognise the many challenges sub Saharan Africa faces, including HIV/AIDS and conflict. Much remains to be done. In particular, we encourage efforts to improve the quality of governance including through greater accountability, transparency and control of corruption in a strengthened public sector. The European Union recalls the substantial support, amounting to some 11.5 billion Euros which the Union and its Member States accord Africa annually.

The EU fully supports the basic principles of and political priorities addressed by NEPAD. The EU has also welcomed the outcome of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) forum in Kigali. We believe that the APRM, an African owned and African led process, will contribute to ensuring that good governance becomes a reality in Africa. The experience of NEPAD and the APRM could provide inspiration for other regions.

The achievement of the MDGs will also require strong pro-poor growth in the region and an enabling climate for domestic and foreign investment. I support, therefore, the renewed focus on the critical role of the private sector in promoting economic growth and development. The achievement of the MDGs requires that all countries, both developed and developing live up to their commitments and play their part to achieve those Goals.

The European Union has a strong commitment to its own responsibilities under the Monterrey Consensus. Immediately before the International Conference on Financing for Development, the EU Council adopted eight explicit commitments (the so called “Barcelona commitments”) which defined the EU's contribution to the Conference. Subsequently, the Council mandated the European Commission to report annually on the extent to which the EU member States and the Commission are implementing these commitments. This monitoring exercise is extensive, detailed and thorough. We invite other partners to consider undertaking similar reporting on the implementation of their commitments arising from the Monterrey Consensus, while recognising the significance of that Consensus for achieving the MDGs.

The second European Commission progress report on the implementation of our eight commitments will be discussed by EU Development Ministers tomorrow in Luxembourg. Copies of this report are available from the Commission's website.

All of the EU member States have reaffirmed their commitment to achieving the UN ODA goal of 0.7%. Four member States have already achieved this goal while a number of others have established specific time frames in which they will strive to reach it. As a first significant step, at Monterrey, the EU made a collective commitment to achieve an EU average ODA of 0.39% of GNI by 2006. The member States, individually, also committed to increasing their ODA volumes, within their respective budget allocation processes, to at least 0.33% of GNI by 2006.

The latest European Commission report shows that the EU is on track to implement its ODA commitment. In 2002 the EU member states increased their ODA by 5.8% in real terms, compared to 2001, to reach a collective average of 0.35% of GNI.

On 1 May, the European Union will welcome ten new member States. The efforts of the acceding countries have been included in the second Commission progress report. All of the acceding States have begun to make the transition to becoming donors and are committed to EU development policy.

In addition to increased resources, it is essential that donors and international organisations and their developing country partners work to make aid more effective. This means, amongst other things, translating the Rome Declaration on Harmonisation into practice. It requires enhanced joint planning between donors, led by Governments and focussed on alignment with nationally owned development strategies such as Poverty Reduction Strategies as well as alignment with country systems and procedures.

Tomorrow in Luxembourg my Ministerial colleagues will adopt Conclusions regarding possible steps to be taken to translate the Barcelona commitments into practice and the possible adoption in November 2004 of an EU Action Plan on Harmonisation and Coordination.

The enormous challenge of achieving the MDGs calls for a strong, coherent and well coordinated multilateral system. We also see a need for stronger partnerships, and greater coordination and cooperation, between the UN, the BWIs and the proliferation of global funds.

The need for coordination is particularly true in the area of HIV/AIDS. There is a real risk that the impact of the substantial additional resources being deployed to fight HIV/AIDS will be weakened through duplication, lack of coordination and high transaction costs on our partners in development. The disease is still outpacing all our efforts and the financial resources committed for the work against HIV/AIDS are still not nearly adequate.

Mr. Chairman,

One of the commitments made by the EU at Monterrey related to the provision of trade related assistance to developing countries. This assistance complements the EU's commitment to an open, equitable, rules-based and non-discriminatory trading system and to its further development through a successful conclusion of the Doha Development Round. The EU has also called on developed countries and major developing countries to follow the EU and provide duty and quota free access to all products from LDCs.

In this context, I welcome the presence of a representative of WTO, the President of the Trade and Development Board and the Secretary General of UNCTAD at the Special Session. I believe their presence at our meetings, together with the representatives from the World Bank and the IMF, can help focus attention on the urgent need to secure better results from our trade related assistance programmes, particularly in the areas of capacity building and measures to address supply side constraints, especially in LDCs. The EU sees UNCTAD XI in Sao Paulo in June as an important opportunity to focus UNCTAD's activities on a small number of key priority areas where it can have the greatest impact.

Mr. Chairman,

At the recent EU-Africa Ministerial meeting in troika format in Dublin, Ministers welcomed the joint report prepared by debt experts from the African and EU sides on the scale, nature and impact of Africa's debt burden. In relation to the HIPC, all of the EU member States are committed to going beyond the requirements of HIPC by providing 100% debt relief on their pre cut-off date claims towards HIPC countries.

It is vital that we look beyond the HIPC initiative, and address issues related to long term debt sustainability of low income countries. Long term debt sustainability remains an essential condition for economic stability, growth and development. The EU will play its part in contributing to building foundations for growth and development, and we welcome the work done by actors such as UNCTAD and the BWIs on debt sustainability issues.

Mr. Chairman,

At the 2005 major event, with the participation of heads of state and government, we will reinvigorate our efforts to implement the Millennium Declaration, achieve the MDGs and fulfil the promise of our Monterrey partnership commitments; we will reach the first milestone on our way to 2015. Already, it is clear that we face a very significant challenge in achieving the MDGs in sub Saharan Africa. The implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, and a strong commitment by governments and international organisations to promote coherence, coordination and cooperation, will be crucial if we are to make the necessary progress. This integrated approach underpins the Monterrey Consensus and the outcomes of the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development and it needs to be promoted and developed in the years ahead if we are to make progress in lifting millions of people out of extreme poverty.

Thank you.

  • Ref: PRES04-043EN
  • EU source: EU Presidency
  • UN forum: ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council), (including functional Commissions)
  • Date: 26/4/2004

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