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Development goals

Something to work with

by Claudia Isabel Rittel
The European Commission wanted to provide EU representatives with twelve stringent items for the UN summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in September. The EU’s heads of state and government, however, decided to dilute the agenda. Civil-society organisations now criticise the EU for its lack of ambition.

On top of more policy coherence, the Commission had called for greater support for the least developed countries (LDCs) and fragile states; furthermore, it wanted poor countries to be assisted so that they can mobilise more funds. The Commission also called on member states to present verifiable annual plans so they can be held accountable for their MDG-related efforts.

Non-governmental organisations, the UN Millennium Campaign and the European Parliament welcomed the Commission’s proposals, but also called for further action. Most important, a majority of MEPs want to see “agrarian export subsidies and other damaging aspects of agricultural policy ended as quickly as possible”.

In June, however, the heads of state and government of the member states agreed on a weaker and less binding position. The EU has thus merely set tangible targets for the support of women in development cooperation. The UN Millennium Campaign, which is monitoring the enforcement of the MDGs, has harshly criticised the EU position. The founder of the campaign, Eveline Herfkens, says that it lacks specifics about increasing development aid along with agreements about a better division of labour and a commitment to reforming Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy.

In the meantime, the United Nations has published its annual MDG report for 2010. It underscores the progress made in basic education, the battle against AIDS and malaria, water supply in rural areas and healthcare for children. At the same time, it is noted that a growing number of people are suffering from malnutrition. Nonetheless, the report argues that the goals can still be reached if the right policies are implemented. (cir)