Another year has almost gone by. And it has certainly not been an easy one in the international scene, with the worsening of Syrian conflict, the Central African Republic outbreak and, unfortunately, many others that could be added to the list. The European Union’s development department, EuropeAid, present all over the world, has continued to do its best to increase the wellbeing of the world’s most vulnerable people, reacting to crises, supporting stabilisation efforts, and proposing a number of initiatives to make poverty a story of the past.
Let’s review some of them.
1. Mali has been high on the agenda in 2013. In February we resumed development aid for the country and mobilised €250 million to respond to the urgent needs of the Malian people. Later in the year a donors’ conference was organised jointly by the European Union and France and as much as €3.25 billion were pledged in support of Mali’s development priorities.
2. Discussions on the development framework which will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015 started with the European Commission’s proposal entitled ‘A Decent Life for All’. There, we acknowledged that while eradicating poverty remains the main priority of the development agenda, ensuring a sustainable development and addressing climate change, resource scarcity, environmental degradation and social inequalities must be tackled together through a joined up approach. This vision was later on confirmed by the United Nations (UN) High Level Panel Report, of which I was a proud member, and recognised by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the Special Event on MDGs taking place at September’s General Assembly. The outcome document of this event was consequently endorsed by all Heads of States, which reflects the global agreement on the need for a single and unified path towards poverty eradication and sustainable development. The post MDGs framework was also the main topic of this year’s European Development Days (EDDs).
3. Undernutrition causes at least one third of all child deaths in the developing world, and a fifth of mothers. The EU also stepped up its efforts to fight against world hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition with a new policy proposal to improve the nutrition of mothers and children. To accompany this commitment, the EU announced that €3.5 billion between 2014 and 2020 will be addressed to improve nutrition in developing countries.
4. Data revealed this year showed that the EU and its 27 Member States remained the world’s largest donor in 2012. Yet, we are not moving in the direction of reaching our collective target of providing 0.7% of the EU Gross National Income (GNI) for development purposes by 2015. The EU needs to deliver on its promise!
5. Migration has been prominently in the news because of the Lampedusa tragedy. Prior to that, though, the Commission had presented its views on how migration and mobility can contribute to inclusive and economic social development and how to strengthen global cooperation in this area.
6. The EU also committed this year to ensuring basic education for every child in the world by 2030, during a High level event in Brussels. For this purpose, as much as €2.5 billion will be mobilised for education in 2014-2020.
7. An international conference on Somalia also took place, where the European Commission pledged €650 million to support the positive momentum in the country and to ensure that it stays on the path to stability and peace, bringing prosperity to its people.
8. New results published on the EU’s contribution to global fight against poverty showed that, between 2004 and 2012, EU funding helped reduce global poverty and supported the MDGs, improving the lives of millions of people. Just to pick one example, EU support since 2004 has given access to improved drinking water to more than 70 million people or more then the entire population of a country like France.
9. The EDDs hosted the publication of the latest Eurobarometer on EU citizens’ views on development aid. The survey confirmed once again the wide support among Europeans to continue helping people in developing countries.
10. My visit to the Philippines coincided with the tragic typhoon that caused thousands of lives. The EU has reacted with, so far, over €43 million for humanitarian urgent needs,as well as to support the early recovery and reconstruction efforts.
11. Huge progress has been made in the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria but with millions of people still at risk of infection, the battle is far from being won. That is why the EU also announced that it would increase our 2014-2016 contribution to the Global Fund with €370 million.
12. This month the European Parliament approved the financial instruments on EU’s external action for 2014-2020. A central element of this package is to keep striving for a world without poverty, with our partner countries in the driving seat.
13. Last but not least, this year has again allowed me to visit EU-funded projects in different regions of the world, and to see first-hand the good results of our cooperation. Ensuring the effectiveness of EU aid is our top priority, and that is why I’ve taken the personal commitment to ensure that every cent is well spent. What I’ve seen this year in countries like Myanmar, Bolivia, Niger, Guatemala, and many others, shows that we are on the right track. And in the years to come we will, of course, continue to improve our work towards a better, and more decent, life for all.13 things well done in 2013,