Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala will attend the EU Foreign Affairs Council Meeting of Development Ministers in Brussels on 14 May. The meeting agenda includes increasing the impact of EU development policy and budget support, a report on the EU’s official development assistance funds in 2011, the situation in Burma and the development cooperation to be launched there, and the UN Rio+20 Conference in June.
The Ministerial meeting will adopt Conclusions that will steer the measures for increasing the impact of the EU’s development cooperation and the budget support given to developing countries. Finland considers it important that the Conclusions recognise the central role of human rights, democracy and the development of the rule of law in development and poverty reduction. Minister Hautala underlines that the real test for the implementation of policies comes when the EU prepares country-specific development cooperation programmes for the years 2014–2020. The programmes will define how the EU implements development cooperation in each partner country.
The Development Ministers will also discuss how the EU and the Member States have progressed towards the target set for development cooperation appropriations, i.e. 0.7 per cent of the GNI by 2015. The Ministers are expected to approve a report on this topic, which the Foreign Affairs Council will present to the meeting of the European Heads of State and Government (the European Council) in June. Finland considers that the report should provide a clear and true picture of the situation and that the EU must keep to its international commitments, regardless of the economic situation. Minister Hautala points out that, apart from appropriations, consideration must also be given to the results of development cooperation, trade, innovative forms of financing, and the developing countries’ own resources, which have a fundamental impact on development.
The Ministers will also discuss Burma and its recent development of democracy, which has led the EU to consider resuming development cooperation with the country. This would be one way to demonstrate the EU’s support for Burma’s positive development. Finland considers that the EU must act in Burma in close cooperation with other international development partners, such as the United States, the UN and international financial institutions. Cooperation with international actors is particularly important in a situation where the country has limited experience of international cooperation.
The Ministers are also expected to discuss the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro in June (Rio+20 Conference). The Environment Ministers have already discussed the topic earlier. Since Rio+20 is largely a development conference, it is important that the Development Ministers also exchange ideas on the most important UN meeting this year.
Additional information: Aino Pennanen, Special Adviser to the Minister for International Development, mobile tel. +358 40 505 9289, and First Secretary Katja Ahlfors, Unit for General Development Policy and Planning, tel. +358 9 1605 6272