Published On: Fri, Nov 30th, 2012

ACP Group calls on EU to honour commitments

PARAMARIBO, Suriname - Former colonies in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific region (ACP) have called upon the European Union to honour its pledge for development aid to this group of countries.

ACP’s Secretary General Mohamed Ibn Chambas expressed profound regret at the European Council’s proposal last week to cut development aid funding by more than 7 percent compared to figures put forward by the European Commission. This includes a disproportionate 11 percent slash to the European Development Fund (EDF), which benefits 930 million people in ACP countries.

“While we appreciate the fiscal challenges that some of our European partners are facing, we do not believe that now is the time to be cutting back on development finance. To do so is rather short-sighted. Vulnerable communities in ACP countries are the worst hit by the global economic crisis – we should all show solidarity and responsibility with the world’s poorest during these times of need, rather than attempt to balance budgets at the cost of millions of lives,” stated the secretary general at the 24th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly here in Paramaribo.

Over the past few days, legislators from Europe and the ACP engaged in sometimes very passionate discussions regarding several issues regarded as crucial for the socio-economic development of the former colonies, including, once again, the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), which will ultimately replace the so-called Cotonou Agreement effectively ending preferential trade arrangements for the ACP.

Chambas believes that with the proposed cuts these countries “would be falling far short of achieving the internationally agreed targets for halving the number of people living in absolute poverty under the Millennium Development Goals for 2015”.

He argued that the EU partners also still need to honour their commitments of 0.7 percent of GNP for development assistance.

“There are new global challenges of climate change, food security, universal access to energy, and ensuring peace and stability for societies in serious political upheaval, which require global collective action,” said the ACPofficial.

The secretary general welcomed the stance of European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and his Commissioner for Development Cooperation Andris Piebalgs, who proposed at least €30 billion for EDF-11 covering the period 2014-2020, following the €22 billion under EDF-10 for the period 2008-2013. However, the Council's proposal of €26.9 billion under EDF-11 amounts to a reduction in real value terms.

“The ACP Group urgently calls upon the European Council to reconsider their proposed cuts to Heading 4 of the EU budget, including the severe weakening of the European Development Fund, which has been a crucial development instrument for our countries and a symbol of the historic relationship of cooperation between Europe and the developing world,” Chambas stated.

By Ivan Cairo
Caribbean News Now contributor

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