Sommaire: EU Presidency Statement - Least Developed Countries (10 November 2005: New York)
EU Statement on Item 55A: Least Developed Countries, by Mr Adam Thomson, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the United Nations on behalf of the European Union, 2nd Committee, UN General Assembly, New York
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries 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, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
The European Union welcomes the opportunity for continued consideration of the interests of the least developed countries and landlocked developing countries during the sixtieth session of the UN General Assembly. We are grateful to the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States for its efforts in co-ordinating the UN system in this regard.
Both the Presidency of the European Union and the Permanent Representative of the European Commission delivered statements on the Landlocked Developing Countries at the sixth Ministerial meeting of Landlocked Developing Countries only a few weeks ago. I propose therefore to focus my remarks today on the Least Developed Countries. Copies of those earlier statements on the Landlocked Developing Countries are available at the back of this conference room.
The European Union and its member states maintain close ties with both individual members of the group of Least Developed Countries and with the group as a whole. The EU, of course, hosted the Third UN Conference on Least Developed Countries in Brussels in 2001, and we retain a particular sense of ownership of, and investment in, its outcome. We remain strongly committed to implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action, as part of our wider commitment to the global development agenda. The outcomes of the UN Summit in September, at which world leaders reaffirmed their commitment to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, provide us with a substantive platform on which to build a global environment conducive to poverty eradication and the sustainable development of the least developed and most vulnerable among us.
The EU welcomes the Secretary-General's report on Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001 to 2011. We are pleased at the efforts made to make it a more results-oriented and analytical progress document.
There was, of course, an earlier opportunity to discuss its contents during the July substantive session of EcoSoc. Nevertheless, I would like to reiterate some key points.
Let me turn first, in light of the imminent WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting in December, to the Brussels Programme of Action Commitment 5 on the role of trade. Trade can be a powerful engine for development. The European Union looks forward to working closely with partners towards success in the Doha Development Agenda. We believe that it will be possible - indeed, crucial - for substantial progress to be made in Hong Kong to bring the Doha Round to an early and successful conclusion in all areas of negotiation. With a comprehensive, pro-development agenda, which combines trade liberalisation with rule-making and complementary aid for trade and trade-related assistance, we believe the Doha Round will bring particular benefits to the least developed and most vulnerable economies.
That said, although trade often contributes to economic growth and poverty alleviation, the link is not automatic, is not immediate, is not direct, and sometimes is not measurable.
Integration into the multilateral trading system can offer significant opportunities for the least developed countries and generate growth. But translating growth into development opportunities will also depend on complementary policies and decisions by developing countries themselves. Among the lessons that we have learned is the need for developing countries to mainstream trade into their development strategies. At the UN Summit, governments committed themselves to adopting and implementing comprehensive national strategies by 2006. This is a crucial factor for success. Donors, and instruments like the Integrated Framework for LDCs, can indeed help. But they cannot replace ownership and the commitment of LDCs genuinely to integrate trade into their development strategies.
Preferential market access is particularly important for the poorest countries. The EU market remains the most open, and the most important, for developing country exports globally.
Our Everything But Arms scheme has, since 2001, provided duty-free and quota-free market access to all LDC exports. We continue to urge other developed countries, and more advanced developing countries in a position to do so, to grant duty-free and quota-free market access to all LDC exports. We hope that such a commitment will be achievable at the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial meeting.
BPOA Commitment 7 focuses on the mobilisation of financial resources. As part of a comprehensive approach to our international assistance, the EU is committed to providing more and better aid, and to the cancellation of debts owed by Heavily Indebted Poor Countries at their completion points to the IMF, the International Development Association and the African Development Fund. We also recognise the value of identifying and developing innovative sources of finance to help meet the Millennium Development Goals.
At present, four out of the five countries which exceed the UN target for ODA of 0.7% of GNI - and six of the seven countries which meet or surpass the 0.15% target for aid to LDCs - are members of the EU. In June of this year, the EU adopted a new collective target of 0.56% by 2010 (0.51% for EU member states who have not yet reached that level, and 0.17% for EU member states who joined in 2004) and an undertaking to achieve a 0.7% target by 2015 (0.33% for EU member states who joined after 2002). This landmark agreement should double EU aid from current levels to over $80 billion by 2010. Moreover, in line with the BPOA, between 0.15% and 0.2% ODA will be focused on the least developed countries. At the same time, it is important to recognise that resources also need to be mobilised at the country level within LDCs, for example by creating appropriate taxation mechanisms. Effort on the part of the LDCs themselves is critical to creating the conditions necessary for private capital flows.
I would like also to make a brief comment on BPOA Commitment 2 on good governance, regarding which the Secretary-General's report underlines some encouraging advances over the past year. The European Union continues to believe strongly that good governance is essential to sustainable development. We welcome the recent steps taken by some LDCs to review or amend their constitutions to enhance their democratic processes. We welcome the fact that six LDCs have already ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption. Stable, democratic institutions, responsive to the needs of the people, remain a strong base for stability, a conducive environment for sustained economic growth and poverty eradication. Peace and security, respect for human rights and the rule of law, gender equality, and a fundamental commitment to just and democratic societies are also essential.
These are important steps forward. And the EU believes, following the decisions taken at the Millennium Review Summit, that the international community is firmly on the right road to global development. But we are conscious that more remains to be done to implement the Brussels Programme of Action. The Secretary-General's report calls for increased efforts by all of us, least developed countries and their development partners alike. The EU takes particular note that the report calls for integration of the BPOA into the development policies, strategies and programmes of the LDCs' development partners.
Before I conclude, may I take this opportunity to recall that a member of the Least Developed Countries group, Cape Verde, is now embarking on a transition process that is intended, in due course, to graduate them from the LDC group. The EU welcomes the remarkable progress of this country in recent years, and welcomes too the steps that Cape Verde has taken to consult stakeholders at the national level on the graduation process. We look forward to the presentation of its smooth transition strategy in the near future.
* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.