Sumario: May 16, 2002: Declaration by Commissioner Poul Nielson, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, to the European Parliament, on external aspects of Sustainable Development (Strasbourg)
The Commission welcomes these timely draft resolutions by the European Parliament on preparing the World Summit on Sustainable Development. They respond to the Commission's two Communications on the preparation for the World Summit and on the external dimension of the EU sustainable development strategy and the global partnership for Johannesburg.
I would like to thank Mr. Papayannakis and Mr. Lannoye for their comprehensive and inspiring reports.
It is a sad fact that progress towards the goals established at Rio has been slow and in some respects conditions are worse today than they were ten years ago.
I agree with the Parliament that the preparatory process for the World Summit is not going as well as we would like but the increase in development spending announced in Monterrey should facilitate progress in Johannesburg. However, we also have to be more creative in finding innovative means of implementation and financing. We still have a lot of work to do to ensure that the last preparatory meeting in Bali at the end of May produces results. The debate is not concentrated on objectives, as there seems to be consensus that poverty eradication and sustainable consumption and production are the overriding goals of the Summit, which as a general feature - is further guided by the commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Objectives. But, as always, the question is how to achieve these goals.
The Union is in the process of identifying a series of key priorities for common action deriving from our Sustainable Development Strategy. The Commission will promote specific initiatives for partnerships in the following areas:
In Water. With a view to improving access to safe drinking water and to adequate sanitation, we will launch an initiative, based on integrated river basin management.
In Energy. The Commission will propose an initiative to improve the provision of adequate, affordable, sustainable energy services. The core of the initiative will be the provision of technical assistance to developing countries to put in place appropriate energy policies through the development of partnerships.
In Health. The Union will increase, over the next five years, the volume of development assistance targeting improved health outcomes and will invite recipient countries and the international community to join in such efforts. Particular attention will be paid to maternal health. WTO members should resolve differences on compulsory licenses and work to ensure that pharmaceutical products can be made available to the developing world at the lowest possible prices.
In Education. The Union will also increase, over the next five years, the volume of development assistance in education and invite recipient countries to develop supportive policy frameworks and appropriate national budgets. We will support the World Bank "Education for All" Fast Tracking Initiative, and strengthen partnerships especially with UNESCO to build capacity and monitor progress; we will also give priority to primary education and the closing of the gender gap.
In Trade. Making globalization work for sustainable development requires timely progress on the work launched in the Doha Development Agenda, and concrete trade-related initiatives going beyond it. The Union will argue for levels of access comparable to Everything But Arms to be given worldwide to Least Developed Countries, and for preferential access for sustainable goods from all sources.
In Forests. The Union should effectively contribute to the strengthening of international cooperation to fight illegal logging and trade in timber.
In Fisheries. The Union intends to contribute in an effective way to maintaining biodiversity, while securing the long-term viability of the fishing industry. We will fight illicit, unreported and unregulated fishing, and support sustainable fishery policies in developing countries in the context of poverty reduction strategies.
In Governance. The Union will contribute to the strengthening of global governance structures and institutions in the economic, social and environmental fields as well as their respective linkages, so as to ensure policy coherence, integration and increased effectiveness. In this context we will also actively engage in the emerging debate on global public goods and will explore innovative mechanisms for international financial solidarity and for incentives for reducing externalities. We will propose to set up a Task Force open to all actors, to identify and discuss the appropriate supply of relevant Global Public Goods.
All these initiatives will be implemented in the framework of national and regional poverty reduction strategies of our partner countries, which form the basis for sustainable development. In the implementation of these initiatives, the Union will pay special attention to Africa and African countries' own efforts to achieve sustainable development.
Preparations for Johannesburg will be one of the main items for discussion at the Seville European Council in June. Let us ensure that the European Union plays a leading role in achieving an ambitious and action-oriented outcome of Johannesburg. The European Parliament has always been an advocate for Sustainable Development and for its integration in all Union policies. Your efforts help bring a sense of urgency to the preparations for Johannesburg.