The EU's responsibilities towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - April 2005

Civil society declaration to European Ministers

European NGO Conference on MDG+5
Luxembourg, 25 April 2005

As European Ministers prepare for the Development Cluster of the General Affairs and External Relations Council in May, European civil society organisations welcome the leadership of the European Union with regard to the UN 2005 MDG high-level event.

However, the signatory NGOs would like to set out some of their key concerns regarding the stocktaking process of the Millennium Development Goals, in particular on the quality and the quantity of finance for development, the necessary coherence between trade, agriculture, security and development policies, and the improvement of governance and transparency of the international institutions.

Having deliberated on the implementation of the MDGs, the European Development NGO members of CONCORD and civil society organisations from all over Europe call upon European Ministers:

On Finance for Development

  • To energetically support the immediate cancellation in full of the bilateral and multilateral debts of the poorest countries, many of which are illegitimate and most are unsustainable, in order to not mortgage the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals;
  • to ensure that debt relief committed by Member States is additional to, and not drawn from the funds required to meet the target of 0.7% of GNI allocated to development assistance; and to use the funding freed up from debt cancellation and revenue generated from other financing facilities inter alia to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and the other funding needs to achieve the MDGs;
  • To ensure that all EU Members States that have not already done so, do set a clear timetable for reaching the long-promised UN target of 0.7% of GNI and do agree to reach a collective average target of 0.7% of GNI allocated to poverty-focused Official Development Assistance by 2010; and to avoid aid dilution by excluding other non poverty-focused expenditure such as financing of military or peace keeping missions;
  • To examine the implementation in the short run of proposals for innovative forms of raising resources to finance urgent capital expenditure necessary to achieve the MDGs and to secure more stable and predictable ways of financing recurrent social spending in poor countries; and to ensure that any innovative mechanisms to raise resources for development are complementary and do not replace existing instruments and channels for aid;
  • To guarantee that at least 70% of ODA is spent in low-income countries, with aid to middle-income countries targeted at the poorest and furthermore that at least 20% of aid is allocated to basic social services;
  • To support the strengthening of national ownership over development policies and procedures within poor countries, ensuring civil society participation in setting development priorities, and reaffirming human rights obligations and a rights-based approach which emphasises inclusion, ownership and participation of the poor;
  • To improve aid effectiveness and aid delivery by fully untying all aid to all developing countries, by ensuring greater donor coordination and complementarily, harmonisation and alignment of government procedures and predictability of aid flows. Furthermore, imposed economic policy conditionalities, such as trade liberalisation, deregulation, fiscal austerity and privatisation must be abandoned.
  • To encourage an appropriate use at national and international level of different types of capital controls in order to constrain tax evasion and capital flight resulting from tax havens, which can represent a major obstacle to reaching the MDGs, when they reduce the income of poor countries and foster corruption.

Make EU Trade Policies coherent with Sustainable Development

  • To ensure that internal and external EU policies are coherent with and enable the achievement of development objectives applicable in all developing countries; and to ensure that the strong legal basis for policy coherence in the draft constitution (art. III – 292, art III - 316) is translated into concrete mechanisms for follow up and the necessary support within the Commission’s services;
  • To ensure that Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations with ACP countries are not based on reciprocity but on development benchmarks, the eradication of poverty and the achievement of the MDGs; and to ensure that EPA negotiations are systematically informed by conflict-sensitive analysis to prevent or mitigate the damaging effects of market volatility and economic shocks on insecurity thus further entrenching poor countries in cycles of poverty and violence.
  • To adopt a strong and consistent pro-poor position in the Doha round negotiations of the WTO and its ministerial meeting in 2005 in Hong Kong, which implies abandoning demands for reciprocity from developing countries, showing more restraint in the pursuit of the EU offensive trade interests, and reducing the demands for market opening in developing countries in agriculture, non-agricultural market access (NAMA) and services;
  • To make a clear commitment to removing trade restrictions on generic pharmaceutical products related to the treatment of HIV and related conditions;

On Global Governance Democratisation

  • To develop and actively support measures and initiatives leading to a more effective and democratic global economic governance;
  • To ensure adequate inclusion of a gender perspective (including sexual and reproductive rights) not only in its approach to the review of all MDGs but also in the review of global institutions and the democratic, peace building process, based on the EC and Member States commitment to the Beijing Declaration, the Platform for Action and the UNSC Resolution on Women, Peace and Security;
  • To identify points of entry for cooperation and build partnerships in those countries where governance is massively failing its people in delivering core functions such as basic public services, essential infrastructure, security and protection of property (e.g. with NGOs, private sector, community groups, religious organisations, regional organisations and parliamentary groups);
  • To ensure that alongside the MDGs the EC and Member States maintain their World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen 1995) commitments to creating an inclusive society, to equalising opportunities and well being for all, made at the and combat discrimination related to age, race, ethnicity, disability, religion, gender and sexual orientation;
  • To encourage a Rights-based approach to Development, including the realisation of children's rights as a specific instrument in the framework of the implementation of the MDGs throughout EU development policy;
  • To encourage the strengthening of the socio-economic sector of the UN in relation to the specialised IFIs and the WTO and to advocate a reduction of the disproportionate influence of the IMF and the World Bank on issues of vital interest to developing countries; by transforming ECOSOC into a Human Development Council provided with a significant budget and explicit coordination functions;
  • To ensure more transparency and accountability of donors to the southern partners and guarantee a far more important share of votes and real decision making power to developing countries within the IFIs as a first step towards the democratisation of their structures and functioning; and to establish clear and democratic guidelines for the selection of the President of the World Bank and the Managing Director of the IMF, that should be based on the merit of candidates to be proposed by any country member of the Bretton Woods Institutions;
  • To make the European Investment Bank more transparent; and to strengthen parliaments’ role in the programming exercise and monitoring of aid flows; additionally to ensure the European Investment Bank’s policies are coherent with European development policies, in particular through the definition of a proper development mandate for all its operations outside EU Member States; finally to ensure that the European Investment Bank and European corporations’ investments in poor and fragile states are in line with international humanitarian and human rights law, in order to avoid exacerbating militarisation or conflict and to promote a more equitable distribution of extractive industry-related revenues, (see the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative); and
  • To strengthen democratic processes within EU institutions, including a stronger agenda for civil society participation in order to achieve a real partnership peace and development.

On Human Security

  • To acknowledge that a key obstacle to reaching the MDGs is the international community's inability hitherto to address insecurity and its interdependence with poverty and bad governance in a conflict-sensitive and sustainable way - reflected in the sad fact that 22 of the 34 countries farthest from reaching the MDGs are in or emerging from conflict;
  • To develop an EU Council Common Position on Fragile States which, through a long-term, integrated policy approach, provides a framework for addressing the social, economic, political and cultural causes, of conflict as well as the symptoms;
  • To ensure that conflict analysis informs planning and implementation of all EU policy instruments
  • To take greater responsibility for creating public support for long term peacebuilding as part of a human rights, human security approach;
  • To establish fixed timeframes and benchmarks for peace building, beyond the headline goals for European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) missions; and
  • To champion the International Arms Trade Treaty and strengthen the EU Common Position on Arms Brokers.

NGOs from the different sectors of civil society have noted the gap between the rhetoric and practice on the part of European governments in meeting the MDGs and therefore underline the urgent need for the EU to improve its performance in order to reach Goal 8.

Furthermore, in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, the NGOs would like to emphasise that development and social progress are based on a Rights-based approach to Development, as spelled out by the unconditional respect of fundamental rights and reiterate the indivisibility of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The goals on the eradication of poverty might not by met by 2015, if development policy is incoherent with other policy areas that affect the poor and does not properly address the reversal of HIV/AIDS; sexual and reproductive health and rights; the promotion and protection of children’s rights; gender equality, and the adequate inclusion of vulnerability to conflicts, of environmental concerns and of a human rights based approach to poverty eradication.

Out of the three goals identified by the Copenhagen Social Summit – poverty reduction, employment creation and social integration – only the first is up to now an explicit target of the MDGs. The strategic concepts of equalising of opportunities and creating an inclusive society endorsed by the Copenhagen declaration on social development need to be given much more importance if the ambitions of the Millennium Declaration are to be realized.

The European Development NGOs members of CONCORD and civil society organisations from all over Europe hope that the EU Ministers share their concerns and will give to the EU and the rest of the world a clear message on these issues in September 2005 at the United Nations meeting in New York. 

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