I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey; 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 and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.
The EU welcomes the widespread agreement reached on the facilitators text of 5 May 2004 on the Report of the Committee for Development Policy and to express our thanks to the facilitators for their efforts in this regard. The EU would have preferred that this resolution had been adopted by consensus.
The EU supports this resolution in the understanding that the time has come for the Maldives and Cape Verde to graduate from the LDC list and that ECOSOC will take a positive decision in this regard at its substantive session of 2004. We also expect that a decision on a smooth transition process be taken at that substantive session.
As is known, the EU has been and continues to be the most important supporter of the LDC category. However, this support is of a voluntary nature, inspired by the EU wish to assist the weakest and poorest countries. It is, therefore, of crucial importance for these countries that the LDC category remains credible and focussed on the least advanced developing countries. In this connection, the EU reaffirms the importance we attach to the mandate of the CDP, (a body composed of independent experts), to conduct triennially a review to determine the countries to be added to or graduated from the list of LDCS, and report its findings to ECOSOC. It considers that ECOSOC and the GA should take decisions expeditiously in accordance with the procedure outlined in GA Resolution 46/206.
The EU underlines that the graduation from the LDC list should be considered as a positive achievement. It welcomes the remarkable progress made in recent years by the Maldives and Cape Verde. However, we are conscious at the same time of the need to ensure a smooth transition, allowing countries to prepare themselves and to avoid disruption to their development plans and programmes.
We share the Committee’s opinion that there is an urgent need for the international community to address, with the involvement of the member states, bilateral donors and relevant international organisations, the possible issues related to the smooth transition. Countries in a position to graduate should have a clear picture of the situation in the transition period. In this light, the EU looks forward to the report to be prepared by the Secretary General with recommendations on how to formulate a smooth transition strategy. The EU believes that what is needed are general guidelines to be applied to each graduating country including the Maldives and Cape Verde.