The Role of New EU Member States in EU-Africa Development Policy

March 3, 2008 at 12:07 pm | Posted in Aid Effectivness, Parliamentarians | 1 Comment

Slovenian EU Presidency Seminar on Africa

European Parliament, Brussels, 28 February 2008

The relationship between the New Member States of the European Union (EU) and Africa were discussed at a seminar in Brussels aimed to prepare and equip the new donors to play a full part in African development. The seminar, organised by AWEPA (Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa), in co-operation with the European Parliament, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and the Society for International Development (SID) European Programme, was held to mark the occasion of the EU Presidency of Slovenia. Participants addopted Recommendations for Parliamentary Action and Resolution on Parliamentary Monitoring of ODA.

Speaking at the seminar, Anton Kokalj, a Member of the Slovenian Parliament and Chair of the Committee on EU Affairs, confirmed that Slovenia, as the first “post-Lisbon EU Presidency,” would take forward the Africa-EU Joint Strategy and its Action Plan, adopted at the EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon. “We are serious about the new strategic partnership with Africa,” he said.

A Member of the European Parliament for Lithuania, Danute Budreikate, noted that the New Member States had no historical and geographical ties with Africa, and target neighbouring countries as they see co-operation benefits. “However, the New EU Member States have faced similar problems to African countries and could exchange transition experiences”, she added. She further noted that most new EU states “are not even close to meeting the development contribution targets”. Drawing on their recent development co-operation experiences, policies and future plans, the participants were focusing on three key areas of parliamentary responsibility: the Joint-EU Strategy, parliamentary oversight of Official Development Assistance (ODA) and the eradication of HIV and AIDS.

Hadj Diao El Kanté, Chair of the International Relations Committee of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), described relations between the EU and Africa as “at a crossroads after 50 years of African independence and 50 years of EU co-operation”. He said that the EP and the PAP identify shared priorities for development and should work together to ensure that their parliaments take part actively in the implementation of the Africa-EU strategy.

Johan van Hecke, Head of the AWEPA Section in the European Parliament, stressed that national parliaments had a crucial role to play in monitoring the implementation. He emphasised that because parliaments played a major role in the budget, a greater role had to be played by them in improving aid effectiveness.

“Aid is also a matter from people to people, not from government to government” said Professor Ben Turok, Member of Parliament in South Africa and Chair of the NEPAD Contact Group of African Parliamentarians. Professor Turok emphasised that aid must be a public vehicle for public discourse. Otherwise aid becomes a political manipulation or a partnership between two ministers of finance.

In relation to the fight against HIV/AIDS, the participants spoke about ways to scale up national responses to eradicate AIDS with a special focus on vulnerable children. UNICEF Brussels Senior Policy Advisor, Margaret Wachenfeld, stressed the need to strengthen the health sector response to ensure adequate health care for children affected by AIDS. Prince N. Bahati, Senior Programme Manager of IAVI added that parliaments had to “encourage their governments to support financing mechanisms and incentives that stimulate the private sector to contribute to access to new health technologies, like AIDS vaccines and microbicide’s, through which women and girls in particular can protect themselves better”.

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