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Letter to the editor

Public response

by D+C/E+Z
In our June issue, we published a letter concerning a the interview with Gerd Müller, Germany’s federal minister for economic cooperation and development. The interview was published in our February edition: http://www.dandc.eu/en/article/gerd-muller-germanys-new-federal-minister-economic-cooperation-and-development-spells-out

Nebulous policy jargon
D+C/E+Z 2014/02, p. 76 ff.: Gerd Müller: “Humanity’s ­common future”

Gerd Müller, Germany’s minister for economic cooperation and development, correctly points out that 2015 will be an especially important year and that focus must be on overcoming hunger and poverty all over the world as well as on ensuring environmental sustainability. In discussing tan­gible steps, however, he unfortunately shies away from mentioning investment-protection agreements of developing countries with the EU, even though such agreements give European companies the freedom to purchase land in a kind of new Conquista. Making matters worse, subsidies for bio­fuels or industrial-scale live-stock farming contribute to smallholder farmers being chased from their fields which are then used for monocultures of soy, maize and oil palms. Mr. Müller expresses himself in favour of sustainable and socially equitable structural change in rural areas. He does not mention, however, that the EU is still shielding its agricultural markets from competition from developing countries, whereas Africa is still being swamped with European farm goods. That competition is driving smallholders out of business. One of the greatest problems, moreover, is excessive financial-market speculation in staple foods, but Mr. Müller does not mention it. Nor does he elaborate on Germany’s pledge to spend 0.7 % of GDP on official development assistance. Germany has not renounced this pledge, but we do not see any tangible commitment to fulfilling it. Instead of announcing urgently needed action, Müller sticks to nebulous policy jargon. Helmut Scholz, Member of the European Parliament