I am honored to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia, align themselves with this statement.
Let me first say that we regret that this debate collides with the debate on NEPAD, malaria and Causes of Conflict in Africa which is held now in the plenary.
The European Union would like to thank the High Representative USG Cheick Sidi Diarra for his presentation of the Secretary-Generals reports on the implementation of Brussels Programme of Action and the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action respectively. The implementation of both these programmes is vital for achieving the MDGs.
I will first turn to the situation of the Least Developed Countries. The report of the Secretary-General underlines how the already precarious condition of the Least Developed Countries is exacerbated by the food, fuel and financial crises, as well as climate change, which continue to undermine previous development efforts. Despite significant economic growth in later years, 53.4 % of the people living in LDCs still live on less than $ 1.25 a day.
The European Union would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to the fulfillment Brussels Programme of Action, the result of the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries. The EU hosted the Third UN Conference on LDCs in Brussels in 2001, and we retain a particular sense of commitment and interest in its outcome. The EU is also looking forward to the 4th UN Conference on the LDCs, which will give all relevant partners the opportunity to come together to assess the implementation of the Brussels Program of Action.
As reaffirmed in the Doha declaration on the follow up of the implementation of the Monterrey Conference, each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development, and the role of national policies, domestic resources and development strategies cannot be overemphasized. The EU firmly believes that national governments are responsible for ensuring human rights and citizens participation, for solving conflicts by peaceful means, and for addressing the weakness of domestic financial institutions, with the support of development actors. We reiterate the importance of good governance in the LDCs and national ownership of the development process. While it is an indispensable condition, economic growth alone cannot ensure a higher standard of living.
For our part, the EU advocates to primarily support the alleviation of the effects of the global recession on the Least Developed Countries. Focusing on the poorest and the most vulnerable, while ensuring social development and environmental protection is crucial. For this purpose, the EU has created the 1 billion euro Food Facility, which will provide increased resources for food security and agricultural development for the coming three years.
The EU increased its collective in ODA during 2008, reaching more than 49 billion and 0.40% of GNI. However, we underline the importance of continued efforts. The EU strongly reaffirms its commitment to achieve its ODA targets and these commitments should see EU aid double to over 66 billion in 2010, in spite of the economic crisis. We further reaffirm our commitment to collectively meet the target of 0.15% to 0.20% of GNP to the LDCs, while fully respecting Member States priorities in development assistance. It is crucial that financial assistance is accompanied by mutual responsibility and efficiency. Therefore, we need to continue efforts on an ambitious, action- and results-oriented implementation of the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action.
In the area of trade the EU remains a loyal partner. The EU continues to be the most important trading partner for the LDCs and LLDCs not only if measured in nominal trade but also in terms of diversification of exports, as the EU is, in comparison with other nations, importing relatively far more agricultural and manufactured goods such as textiles. These are typically labour-intensive sectors that are essential to spur development. The recent decline in prices for fuel and raw materials further underlines the role of the EU as number one trading partner.
The EU also invests vastly in Aid for Trade. Aid for Trade commitments amounted to 7,17 billion Euros in 2007. On 30 September, the remaining quota for sugar and rice under the EU’s Everything But Arms regime for LDCs have definitely lapsed. As a consequence, the EU is offering since the 1st of October full duty-free and quota free to all Least Developed Countries on all products – except arms and ammunition. We continue to urge other developed countries and advanced developing countries in a position to do so to follow our example.
The EU professes its strong support for an ambitious, balanced and comprehensive outcome of the WTO Doha Development Round in 2010, which would enable developing countries to reap more fully the beneficial effects of world trade.
The role of the private sector, markets and entrepreneurship, should not be forgotten, as these are vital for galvanizing production, creating jobs and sustaining economic growth. , When establishing their development strategies and diversifying their economies, governments should however be mindful of the environmental consequences and careful not to slide into protectionism, import-substitution or other policies that have proven to be damaging in the past.
Climate Change is already occurring and is experienced most severely in the countries with the least resources to cope with its adverse effects. It is now apparent that global warming undermines development and risks offsetting gains from poverty and hunger reduction, causing additional stress, particularly to the developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to its impacts, especially LDCs, SIDS and countries in Africa affected by drought, desertification and floods. Reducing the risks of climate change must build on the capacity of countries, local communities and women and men to foster resilient societies. The EU is willing to contribute to improving the efficiency of the Least Developed Countries Fund (LCDF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), in order to respond adequately to the adaptation challenges faced by the LDCs.
Mitigation and adaptation will demand significant domestic and external sources of finance, both private and public. The EU will take on its fair share of financing. The EU has identified the need for a fast start of international public financing for capacity building and technical assistance. The European Commission estimates that overall some five to seven billion euro of assistance a year during the period 2010-2012 is likely to be needed.
The European Union continues to regard countries graduation from the list of LDCs as a positive step in the development process. We are, however, aware of the need to ensure a smooth transition for graduating countries so as to best prepare them for full integration into the world economy and provide a certain continuity in development plans and programs.
When it comes to the specific actions related to the particular needs of Landlocked Developing Countries, the European Union expresses its firm commitment to the implementation of the five priorities of the Almaty Programme of Action of 2003.
The European Union recognises that lack of territorial access to the sea and geographical remoteness, leading to isolation from the world’s markets, are significant factors contributing to poverty in landlocked developing countries
The European Union welcomes the progress that has been made thus far in implementing the Almaty Plan of Action. It is clear that the key to progress is through sub-regional, regional and inter-regional programmes and co-operation, including enhanced regional economic integration. On our side, we provide through the EUs European Development Fund (EDF), financial and technical assistance for transport infrastructure and services, for policy development, and for regional transport networks.
The High-level meeting of the General Assembly on the MDGs in 2010 convened will be a crucial for our joint efforts of reaching the Millennium Development Goals on time. The success of the LDCs and LLDCs in this regard is rooted in timely, comprehensive development cooperation together with well-evaluated development policies.