Following last year’s approval of the Lisbon Treaty and the election of a new European Parliament, 2010 has begun with the appointment of President Barroso’s newly selected European Commission (EC) line-up. CIDSE, an international alliance of Catholic development agencies, while wishing the new Commission success, points to the need for ambitious and fair policies. In the next five years leading up to the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) these should benefit both citizens at home and people living in poverty in developing countries to ensure our common future.
“In light of the recent food, economic and climate crises, which have left poor countries struggling with dire consequences, which will be felt for many years to come, it is imperative that the new Commission reaffirms the EU’s leadership in development cooperation by placing poverty eradication at the heart of its agenda and, crucially, ensures the coherence of all EU policies with this goal,”. Recent studies show that the EC is not meeting this goal with only 44% of its aid money going to poor countries in comparison to the average 65% rate of EU member states.
One of the main priorities of the Commission, and Development Commissioner Piebalgs in particular, should be to not only push EU member states to stick to their aid commitments but also to promote innovative and predictable sources of development and climate finance. “After having firmly declared his support for financial transaction taxes during his EP hearing, we expect Commissioner Piebalgs to match words with deeds. The Commission should urge EU member states to promptly implement these taxes,” said Bernd Nilles, CIDSE Secretary General.
Furthermore, the EU must adopt a policy framework for food security that focuses on the potential of small scale farming for development, a framework which is supported rather than undermined by the EU's own trade and agricultural policies. According to Nilles “the appointment of a climate commissioner presents an important opportunity for the EU to rethink and reinvigorate its engagement in international climate negotiations. The Commission must work with its member states to reach out to its negotiating partners and ensure that 2010 secures the fair, effective and binding climate agreement that both science and justice demand.” Credible and coherent policies on domestic climate mitigation efforts and support to developing countries are crucial to protect the world’s most vulnerable people from the impacts of the climate crisis.