UN: EU statement on partnerships towards achieving the Millenium Development Goals

UN 61st Session; Informal Thematic Debate; Partnerships towards achieving the Millenium Development Goals: taking stock, moving forward

Statement by H.E. Ms. Kirsti Lintonen, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN, on behalf of the European Union

New York, 27 November 2006

Madame President,

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 Country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Albania, as well as Ukraine and Moldova align themselves with these remarks.

The EU welcomes the opportunity to discuss partnerships for achieving the MDGs with other stakeholders.

The EU is committed to building a global partnership for development. The basis for this global partnership is, as stated in the Monterrey Consensus and reaffirmed at the 2005 World Summit, that each country takes primary responsibility for its own development. The central role of national policies and development strategies cannot be overemphasised in the achievement of the MDGs. The global partnership further entails joint commitment to sound policies, good governance and the rule of law, and to mobilise domestic resources. To support the national efforts and to accelerate progress towards achieving the MDGs donors have to deliver on commitments regarding ODA volume. In order to operationalise the Monterrey consensus the EU Member states promised in Barcelona to generate sufficient financial resources to achieve the MDGs by committing to raise EU ODA to 0,39 % of GNI by 2006. The EU is well on track with this commitment and in 2005 the EU made new, more ambitious commitments about scaling up the volume of its assistance to 0,56 % of EU GNI by 2010 and to 0,7 % by 2015.

As far as EU aid effectiveness is concerned the implementation of the Paris Declaration was boosted by the aid effectiveness package and the consequent European Consensus on Development adopted in 2005. The World Summit Outcome document and the Paris declaration combined have resulted in successful Joint Assistance Strategies in several developing countries. Harmonisation is key to getting more and better results out of development assistance. The UN system should fully integrate itself in the work of harmonisation with other donors in the field – under the leadership of the partner country implementing its national development plan. In many countries the ball is already rolling.

Increased and more effective development assistance is not enough. Conflicts are major obstacle for development and achieving the MDGs. The role of the UN is crucial in this regard. The new Peace Building Commission will help bridging the gap from conflict to long-term development.

Achieving the MDGs requires improved policy coherence at the level of the UN and other multilateral cooperation, as well as at the national level. The EU has made concrete commitments in enhancing policy coherence for development in 12 focal sectors. More recently, last October the EU Council agreed also to improve its own decision making systems for increasing policy coherence for development. The UN system needs to do the same and a good opportunity for this is provided by the UN reform. The System Wide Coherence Panel's report and its follow-up will provide an opportunity for the UN to upgrade its perfomance in order deliver better development results at the country level.

The 2005 World Summit gave the UN reform new impetus. The normative and analytic expertise of the UN as well as its operational and coordination capacities can only be fully used in a streamlined and more efficient UN. This is mandatory if the MDGs are to be achieved by 2015. There needs to be a strong partnership between the UN system, the Member States and other stakeholders to support the UN in its reform efforts and to make sure that we together proceed towards concrete action. Let me mention briefly some action taken by the Council of the European Union since the World Summit last year. The European Consensus on Development adopted at end of 2005 for the first time sets out a common policy framework for the EU Commission and its Member States’ action for development. The EU Africa Strategy was agreed as well at end of 2005 with the commitment of allocating half of the increase of EU aid to Africa. The Strategy is centered on the objective to promote the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Strategic partnerships with other regions of the world have been agreed since.

As part of the implementation of the EU-Africa strategy a Partnership on Infrastructure and Governance Inititative was agreed last October. Good governance is a crucial element in a large number of fields: we cannot fully reap the benefits of increased economic integration and trade if governance structures are not in place; we cannot assume improvement in aid effectiveness if governance systems are inefficient; and we will find it harder to face the challenges in social sectors if governance is not supportive. Improved infrastructure can contribute to the achievement of the MDGs and it is crucial for trade development too. In this context also the role of the private sector and the important contribution of public-private partnerships must be recalled.

The EU Council adopted conclusions in October 2006 which emphasise the need for increased and more effective aid for trade in order to enable all developing countries, particularly LDCs, to integrate into the multilateral rules-based trade system and urge the Community and the Member States to put their respective commitments on trade related assistance into operation. The Council recalled the commitment by Member States to increase collective spending with a view to reaching 1 billion euro per year by 2010, bringing the contribution of the EU as a whole, including the Community contribution, to 2 billion euro per year by 2010. The European Union has also been implementing from 2001 duty free and quota free access for all products originating in LDCs. 

The EU finds that the Doha Development Round negotiations should be continued as soon as possible. A successful outcome of the negotiations will bring considerable development benefits. In addition and complementary to the Doha Development Agenda, the EU conducts European Partnership Agreements negotiations at the bilateral level with a large number of poor, vulnerable countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). The EC considers Aid for Trade as a complement, not a substitute, of a pro development outcome of both negotiations which should help developing countries to take advantage of market access opportunities and the implementation of new or existing rules. Business cooperation between companies and organizations in developed and developing countries, especially amongst the least developed ones, needs to be encouraged to enhance economic growth, diversify the economy and exports and reduce poverty in developing countries. Governments in developing countries have to keep up work on reform in relation to their investment climate and business environment.

The European Consensus on Development emphasizes the need for broad participation of all stakeholders in countries' development and encourages all parts of society to take part: civil society, including economic and social partners such as trade unions, employers´ organisations and the private sector, NGOs and other non-state actors. Partnerships based on participation by the public and the private sector and civil society are important. Civil society organisations should also examine ways of coordinating their activities and harmonising their programmes in order to enhance effectiveness.

Still much needs to be done: new partnerships need to be formed; old ones need to be strengthened. It is of vital importance that all donors work towards implementing the national development strategies and that the MDGs have been integrated in these strategies. Donors, as well as the UN system and the International Financial Institutions need, according to our experience, still to intensify their cooperation in order to make aid more effective. The UN can have an incomparable position to provide technical assistance for drawing up and implementing the national development plans. Operational effectiveness and interagency cooperation needs to be strengthened in order for the system to be fully utilized - for the benefit of those in need.

I thank You, Madame President

*) Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process