Statement by H.E. Mr. Thomas Matussek, Permanent Representative of Germany, on behalf of the European Union, on the occasion of the fifteenth session of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation, 29 May-1 June 2007, United Nations, New York
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Montenegro as well as Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
Five years ago Heads of State and Government, through the Financing for Development Conference in Monterrey, Mexico, encouraged South-South cooperation, including through triangular cooperation, as delivery tool for assistance. The world summit outcome 2005 also made reference to the importance of South-South cooperation, highlighting that it effectively complements North-South cooperation and provides a means to share best practices.
In the context of the Monterrey Consensus as well as in the context of the Millennium Declaration, the Brussels Programme of Action for the LDCs, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, the Almaty Programme of Action for the LLDCs as well as the Mauritius Strategy, South-South cooperation has proven to be an important factor for development. The EU believes that, in the framework of the follow-up Conference on Financing for Development in Qatar at the end of next year, South-South cooperation deserves our full attention.
South-South cooperation is beginning to change the geography of international relations, particularly in the areas of trade, finance, investments, the provision of development assistance, and in efforts towards regional integration.
The EU is pleased that a number of developing countries are already applying strong programmes in support of South-South cooperation. The cooperation with emerging economies is considered to be of especially high importance for a more equitable world order: for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, for regional and global economic development, political development and security, for global environmental and resource protection and the development of global governance. These countries have experiences from both sides, as beneficiary and as donor countries.
South-south cooperation, consequently, is a very welcome contribution to the global, worldwide effort for development. The EU is of the opinion that South-South cooperation should conceptually not be isolated from this global effort. On the contrary, it is an integral part of it, and it should therefore comply with the principles of the Monterrey consensus and with the principles of aid-effectiveness laid down in the Paris Declaration. Essential features of these principles are: country ownership, primacy of the poverty strategies of the recipient countries, harmonizing with country processes and procedures, and focus on institutional capacity building of the recipient country.
For a long time the EU has advocated and supported South-South integration, in parallel to greater integration of developing countries in the multilateral trading system, as part of a development strategy to overcome the limitations of small economic size and vulnerability. Yet, it should not be ignored that the positive effects of integration can only be realized when the overall policy framework and the governance and security situation are conducive to such integration. Many of the past initiatives have not yet fulfilled their expectations due to shortcomings in these areas.
Therefore, in its ongoing Regional Trade Agreement initiatives the EU promotes what can be called a South-South-North approach which seeks to combine the strong points of North-South integration with those of South-South. Support for regional integration is also the focus of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. EPAs are development instruments which aim to contribute to poverty alleviation and to gradually integrate ACP-countries into the global economy. One of the major potential outcomes of EPAs will be closer regional integration of the six regions currently negotiating with the EU. Therefore EPAs will significantly contribute to South-South trade.
In general, the EU has concluded agreements with a number of regional organizations with a view to promote the potential benefits of regional economic integration among developing countries. Growing, mutual cooperation between the European Investment Bank and the regional development banks offers further opportunities.
The EU has supported and will continue to support South-South cooperation through triangular cooperation. It also wants to continue supporting the work of the UN system to promote South-South cooperation in all relevant programmes. The EU believes that the organisations of the UN system, due to their universal membership, neutrality and political independence, represent principal vehicles to catalyse, support and strengthen South-South cooperation. The EU also sees potential for an increased role of the UN system in strengthening funding partnerships among developing countries. As outlined in the UN Secretary Generals report on TCPR A/62/73, its role could be to help developing countries to establish strong links between the operational activities that these new contributions support and the pursuit of the internationally agreed on development goals, including the MDGs.
Several organisations of the UN system have made considerable progress in mainstreaming South-South cooperation within their own programmes. Also, the Special Unit for South-South cooperation located at United Nations Development Programme has been strengthened with additional resources from UNDPs regular budget.
Despite progress made, mainstreaming of the modalities is still not optimal. The EU therefore calls upon the UN system to strengthen its efforts to ensure more progress in this regard in the future which would promote identification and dissemination of best practices, indigenous knowledge, know-how and technology in the South and facilitate networking among experts and institutions in developing countries. In this respect the European Union proposes to explore the trade-related aspects of this topic in the framework of the UNCTAD XII Conference in April 2008.
The European Union acknowledges the role of South-South cooperation in developing countries spelled out by the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, the Doha Plan of Action and in the United Nations system guidelines. We believe that the strategic perspective of South-South cooperation and the implementation of action plans for cooperative action will contribute to the ultimate goal of national and collective self-reliance. These are conditions that can render South-South cooperation a key factor in the achievement of the MDGs and the internationally agreed development agenda. The EU will continue to be a dedicated partner in this respect.