Europeans Bring MDG Demands to Parliament
European citizens took their demands that world leaders end poverty to the European Parliament today (15th of June), where a giant petition symbolic of the voices of 505,823 Europeans who have signed an e-card to their leaders was handed over to the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, by the UN Millennium Campaign, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and dozens of civil society organizations. The petition was presented as the European Council prepares to meet on June 18 to decide the European Union’s (EU) position on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
This event, which was jointly organized with the European Parliament, took place after the passing of a parliamentary Resolution calling on EU donor nations to strengthen their efforts to achieve the MDGs by 2015.
The UN Millennium Campaign and its partners, including the European chapter of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) and Concord, urged the EU Council to lead the negotiations at the MDG Summit in New York on September 20-22 and to present an ambitious plan for achieving the MDGs over the next five years.
“It is now time for the EU to deliver on its development promises,” said Eveline Herfkens, Founder of the UN Millennium Campaign. “EU donor countries must urgently announce national action plans and timetables to meet their existing aid commitments. They must also improve the way they deliver aid by ensuring better coordination and division of labour.”
With just five years left until the deadline by which heads of state have promised to achieve the MDGs, immediate action is needed. EU donor countries must honor their commitments under Goal 8 to increase the quantity of their aid to 0.7% of their Gross National Income, improve aid effectiveness and reform EU trade and agricultural policies so that they are consistent with development objectives.
“A peer review mechanism, as originally proposed by the European Commission, is a sound solution to ensure that timetables and individual commitments are respected,” said Nathalie Péré-Marazano of GCAP Europe. “We know that some countries, including France, are trying to dismiss such proposals, to the detriment of an ambitious EU MDG-focused action plan.”
“The Millennium Declaration was adopted by Heads of State and Government. Ten years later, we ask our Heads of State and Government to reaffirm their commitments,” said Olivier Consolo, Director of Concord, the Confederation of European NGOs. “If we want the MDG agenda to be delivered, our leaders should not delegate their responsibilities. For the remaining five years, we call on our leaders to ensure a transparent and concrete process, including annual progress reports.”
“Furthermore,” added Annika Soder, UN MDGs Coordinator and Assistant Director General of FAO, “the role the EU plays as the world’s largest donor of development aid is being undermined by the effects of its own agriculture policy, which has become a burden for world food security and prevents poor countries from lifting themselves out of poverty”.
At the conclusion of the event, Mr. Buzek committed to bring the voices of European citizens to the attention of the upcoming EU Council meeting on June 17-18, during which the EU 27 common position on the MDGs will be decided.
“Our ambitions will be fulfilled only when we show the will to support them with our own efforts,” said Mr. Buzek, “and our political elites have to know that they have the strong support of the public in turning those ambitions into reality – in making solidarity with the developing countries a reality. For that, we need such initiatives as the EU-wide e-card campaign organized by the UN Millennium Campaign together with many NGOs.”
The UN Millennium Campaign and its partners urge the European Council to listen to their citizens and deliver a concrete and ambitious action plan.