1. I have the honour to take the floor on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Croatia, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro align themselves with this statement.
2. The principal objective of EU development cooperation is to support efforts aimed at reducing and eventually eradicate poverty. The sustainable development of the LDCs is, therefore, at the heart of our development activities. The European Union hosted the Third UN Conference on Least Developed Countries in Brussels in 2001. We have a special sense of ownership of its outcome and remain strongly committed to the achievement of its objectives.
3. The EU is deeply concerned that many LDCs, particularly in sub Saharan Africa, are not making substantial progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals. The situation in this region is the great development challenge of our time and must be at the centre of the development agenda as we prepare for the 2005 Major Event. If current trends persist, the number of people living in extreme poverty in LDCs will increase from 334 million in 2000 to 471 million in 2015. By that time, and assuming current positive progress in Asia continues, the LDCs will be the major locus of global poverty in 2015.
4. The Millennium Declaration highlights the necessity to translate conference outcomes such as the Brussels POA into nationally owned, nationally driven development strategies guided by transparent and accountable governance. The MDGs provide us with a results oriented and time bound agenda for this to be effectively pursued. The Brussels Declaration established the political framework for the Programme of Action. The Declaration sets out in clear and succinct terms the policies and actions that need to be taken to eradicate poverty and improve peoples lives in the LDCs. Current donor practices provide for co-development with partner countries through nationally owned and nationally driven planning processes, including country-led and participative poverty reduction strategies.
5. Good governance is essential for sustainable development. Sound economic policies, solid democratic institutions responsive to the needs of the people and improved infrastructure are the basis for sustained economic growth, poverty eradication and employment creation. Freedom, peace and security, domestic stability, respect for human rights, including the right to development, and the rule of law, gender equality, market-oriented policies, and an overall commitment to just and democratic societies are also essential and mutually reinforcing.
6. The extent to which a gender perspective is integrated in the LDCs own planning processes bears a heavy influence on the effectiveness of their national development strategies. The EU recognizes that development policies and programmes that fail to fully analyse inequalities between women and men and to identify strategies to address these inequalities will not contribute fully to either the creation of the conditions necessary for sustainable development nor to the achievement of the MDGs. Gender inequalities and disparities disadvantage women and girls and limit their capacity to contribute to, participate in and benefit from development. The EU reaffirms that gender equality is a goal in itself, and also a path towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals; no serious strategy for achieving the MDGs as a whole can fail to address women’s empowerment as a central concern.
Peace and Security
7. Peace and security are fundamental if the LDCs are to develop. LDCs, particularly in sub Saharan Africa, are bearing the brunt of many vicious and brutal conflicts that are undermining development and frustrating all hope of progress. On 25 May, Africa Day, the African Union launched the Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa. The EU has warmly welcomed the establishment of this new institution which seeks to equip the African Union with a more robust and proactive mechanism to deal with challenges to peace and security, including the promotion and respect of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions.
8. The EU has now established an African Peace Facility, amounting to 250 million, to help build up African capabilities for addressing and resolving conflicts, including through the deployment of African peace-keeping missions.
9. The EU is committed to strengthening conflict prevention in Africa. These efforts will build on the successful example of Operation Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the work underway to improve rapid reaction capabilities in crisis situations. This also includes work to render EU early warning mechanisms more efficient.
10. The EU will continue to provide political and financial support, including through the efforts of its Special Representatives in Africa, to advance the search for peace in Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia-Eritrea, the Great Lakes region including DRC and Burundi, Northern Uganda, Central African Republic, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote dIvoire.
11. The EU commends the African Union for assuming a leading role in the ceasefire monitoring mission in Darfur. It pledges its continued support for the mission, through the provision of human resources and technical, logistic and financial assistance, including from the Africa Peace Facility. The EU has taken up the invitation by the African Union to be represented in the Joint Commission and to assume the position of Vice-chair of the Cease-fire Commission. In addition, the European Union will send six observers to the monitoring teams.
12. The advance of HIV/AIDS in the LDCs is of acute concern. It is now a development crisis which is threatening growth prospects and the achievement of the MDGs and other internationally agreed development goals. Although the population of the LDCs comprises 11% of the global total, 25.5% of all men living with HIV, 35% of women and 46% of children live in LDCs. Almost 50% of children orphaned by AIDS live in LDCs.
13. The EU has been instrumental in establishing, resourcing and promoting the effectiveness of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. We want this new global mechanism to work effectively in its implementation. We are determined to ensure that it promptly disburses funding in support of programmes directed at prevention; treatment and the care of people living with HIV/AIDS and that provide affordable access to medicines and commodities.
14. As the resources devoted to the fight against HIV/AIDS increase, there is a risk of duplication, overlap and lack of coordination. The EU endorses the Three Ones: ONE agreed HIV/AIDS Action Framework that provides the basis for coordinating the work of all partners; ONE National AIDS Coordinating Authority, with a broad based multi-sector mandate; and ONE agreed country level Monitoring and Evaluation System.
15. The EU strongly welcomes recent positive developments in relation to the provision of anti-retroviral drugs at affordable prices in the worlds poorest countries. In this context, we underline the importance of the WTO General Council Decision relating to paragraph 6 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health. We undertake to proceed, without delay, with the corresponding amendment of the TRIPS Agreement and its implementation in domestic legislation.
16. Threats to the global environment are a common concern of all countries. The LDCs are acutely vulnerable to a variety of natural shocks, including natural disasters and are susceptible to global environmental phenomena such as the loss of biological diversity and adverse effects of climate change which inter alia exacerbates drought, desertification and sea level rise. Such vulnerabilities generate considerable uncertainties and impair the development prospects of these countries.
17. The EU is committed to support the LDCs’ efforts in environmental protection in the context of sustainable development, in particular in achieving the goals contained in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, in complying with the MEA agreements, in formulating national environment policies, in developing and implementing national strategies for sustainable development and in integrating the environment component into national development policies and strategies.
18. In many LDCs in sub Saharan Africa, policies have improved and the capacity to make effective use of resources for development, both domestic and external, has been strengthened. The development policy of the European Community gives priority to LDCs and low income countries in its resource allocation. In January 2004, the EU agreed to consider extending the use of need based allocation criteria to all Community external assistance.
19. The recent UNCTAD LDC report notes that, in real terms, net aid inflows to the LDCs as a group expanded by 36% between 2000 and 2002. This upward trend is linked to the effort of donors to concentrate international assistance more on the poorest countries. The share of total ODA disbursements going to LDCs rose to 28% in 2002.
20. But more needs to be done. As policies and domestic environments improve, LDCs will be able to absorb more ODA and make effective use of the money to reduce poverty. In 2002 EU ODA rose by 5.8% in real terms reaching 0.34% of EU GNI. This amounted to $29 billion, or approximately 50% of global ODA flows. On current trends, collective ODA from the EU of 25 member States should increase to over $40 billion in 2006.
21. The EU is also working to make more effective use of its ODA. We are working towards translating the so called Barcelona commitments (March 2002) into practice. We remain committed to the objective of the Rome Declaration on Harmonisation. With 25 member States, we will ensure that, at the country level, our collective ODA is made more effective in order to reduce transaction costs on our partners. We aim to make a substantive contribution to the Second International High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Paris in 2005.
22. The EU is taking the necessary steps to integrate the untying of aid into all EC development cooperation instruments. The EU also supports progress at international level on further untying of aid beyond the recommendations of the OECDs Development Assistance Committee.
23. In March 2004, the EU launched a new EU-ACP Water Facility to support access to clean water and sanitation for people in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. The Facility is designed to have a catalytic effect in generating additional funding for the water sector. 250 million has been allocated immediately to the Facility and a further 250m will be made available as necessary
24. In addition to increasing ODA flows we must ensure that all external policies which affect developing countries support achievement of the MDGs. In January, the EU Council of Ministers reaffirmed this and noted that the EUs commitment to the achievement of the MDGs should be reflected across the range of EU policies as well as in its decisions on financial allocations.
25. The EU has made a major contribution to the funding of the Heavily Indebted Poor countries Initiative. Member states have provided bilateral relief both within and beyond the terms of the initiative. The EU welcomes the proposal by the G 8 Heads of State and Government meeting at Sea Island to extend the sunset date of the HIPC and to provide the necessary financing for completion of the initiative, including topping up where necessary. The G8 also called for the consideration of measures that can further help the poorest countries address the sustainability of their debt.
26. The overall share of LDC exports in world trade must increase substantially. LDCs have for the most part not been able to harness globalisation to their development, and have not been able to take full advantage of new market opportunities.
27. The EU is implementing the commitment, agreed at LDC III, to provide duty and quota free access to all products from the LDCs. Preferential imports from LDCs under the EUs everything but arms initiative and other arrangements amounted to 10 billion. This commitment should now be implemented by all developed countries, including through measures to improve the effectiveness and ease of use of developed countries’ respective preference programmes. As South-South trade is representing an increasing share in world trade, advanced developing countries should also provide duty- and quota-free access to LDC exports.
28. The EU is also committed to better integrating the LDCs in the Multilateral Trading System, and it therefore strongly supported their facilitated accession to the WTO (notably in the recent cases of Cambodia, and Nepal) as well as placing their needs at the heart of the Doha Development Agenda. In the letter sent recently to all WTO Members by EU Commissioners Lamy and Fischler, they propose to devote increased attention to the needs and interests of LDCs and not to request any tariff reductions from them. LDCs would thus in effect get the DDA Round for free. Their proposal to eliminate all forms of export subsidies on agricultural goods in the framework of the DDA would also greatly benefit LDCs, many of which are dependent on a limited number of commodities for their export earnings. If accepted by all countries, these should help provide further integration of LDCs into the global trading system.
29. In April 2004, the EU adopted an Action Plan on agricultural commodity chains, dependence and poverty and a proposal for an EU-Africa partnership on cotton. Actions will include support for commodity dependent developing countries in the design and implementation of commodity chain strategies, advancing efforts to develop regional markets and services, support for diversification and extending access to services such as finance and market based commodity risk instruments.
30. On cotton, the EU supports an effective and specific solution within the WTO agricultural negotiations. The negotiations should aim at the elimination of all forms of export support on cotton. Developed and major developing countries should follow the EU in providing complete market access to cotton and cotton based products from LDCs. We should also strive to secure a commitment from major cotton producing countries to undertake reforms with respect to trade distorting domestic support.
31. In this regard the EU has now agreed on the reform of its own cotton regime which will reduce its trade distorting impacts and improve coherence with the ECs development policy.