It is a great honour for the European Union, for all Member States and all 500 mln citizens to be awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace prize. It is a great occasion to remind ourselves that the EU is a unique project that works for the benefit of its citizens; the project that allowed us to unite in peace after devastating wars.
As a Commissioner for Development I am also proud that the EU also works for the benefit of the world. We have realised that the seeds of conflicts lie in poverty; that poverty and despair are the root causes of violence and insecurity. Our ambition is to give every citizen a chance and hope for the future. For this reason we have EU development aid.
At the heart of development cooperation is the constant attempt to include people, to empower women and the marginalised, to support civil society and to give a voice to everyone. All this contributes to stability and long-lasting peace. But we also pursue coherent, apolitical and universal promotion of democratisation, human rights and fundamental freedoms
I’m also glad to say that the EU is the most generous donor in the world, contributing to more than half of global aid. More so, the EU is the only region in the world that pledged to increase aid spending to 0.7% of Gross National Income.
We are active in the regions where our work is needed the most like, crisis-stricken Somalia, Sahel or generally vulnerable Sub-Saharan Africa or Afghanistan. We have supported peace processes and reconciliation in countries such as Libya, Myanmar, Cote d’Ivoire, Timor Leste and many other regions in the world.
Thanks to the EU aid many people in the poorest regions got a chance to live better future. We connected 32 million people to drinking water, enrolled more than 10 million children in primary education and provided access to electricity to more than 600,000 families.
The EU is a founding member of the Global Fund to Fight Malaria, AIDS and TB and has channelled more than €922 million which prevented 5.4 million premature deaths through vaccination. The EU is also uncompromising defender of women’s sexual and reproductive health and strong advocate of gender equality and women empowerment. In fact, all our aid programmes are equipped with a “female factor”, which will result in millions of girls receiving the help they need and escaping poverty.
These are the values and actions that the European Union promotes in order to make the world a better place for all. The European Union will continue to promote peace and security, fight poverty and we will remain at the forefront of tackling the global challenges. We are in the unique position to do this and I trust that this Nobel peace prize will allow us to catch more wind in our sails for the benefits to all of us.