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Development Cooperation


Austria wishes to expand the EU’s undisputed role as the international leader in development cooperation. A prime concern is to support developing countries as effectively as possible in overcoming the many challenges they face. As in other fields the Austrian Presidency is bound by the valid "multi-annual planning" document for the GAERC and the chapter on development co-operation therein. Austria sets great store by cooperation with the European Parliament in the area of development. The Presidency’s main priorities in development cooperation will be presented to the European Parliament in due course. The ongoing dialogue with civil society will also figure prominently in the work of the Austrian Presidency.

Implementation of the EU commitments at the 2005 World Summit

The 2005 World Summit has an important impact on international opinion-forming in the field of development cooperation. The commitments made by the EU in particular have a decisive influence on future multilateral development cooperation, and therefore also on discussions in the appropriate forums. There are three probable priorities for future work: long-term increase in EU development cooperation, greater concentration on sub-Saharan Africa, and increased efforts to enhance coherence. The latter concerns improved coordination of all EU policies with an impact on the interests of developing countries (e.g. trade and agriculture).

The Austrian Presidency will examine the follow-up and implementation of commitments concerning the scale of aid and improving its efficiency

The EU as a donor community

The reorganisation of EU development cooperation must be continued in the context of the financial perspective and, if possible, brought to a conclusion. Integration of the European Development Fund in the Community budget is one of the issues that needs to be resolved. Depending on the outcome, the legal basis for EU external aid in future years must be agreed and adopted by the end of 2006 at the latest. Furthermore, should agreement on a development policy statement by the EU still be pending, this will have to be finalised under the Austrian Presidency. This statement would be the basic policy document on the aims and principles of EU development cooperation.

In the context of implementing the policy to give special priority to Africa, EU Member States will have the opportunity to demonstrate their readiness to carry out their commitments to improve mutual cooperation. Furthermore, Austria has set itself the objective of initiating specific activities in the field of cooperation that also take account of the interests of the smaller EU Member States.

The EU-ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific States) Partnership

The meeting of the ACP-EU Council of Ministers will be held from 1-2 June 2006 in Papua New Guinea. Austria will prepare and run this meeting. The ACP-EU Council of Ministers is the supreme body of the ACP-EU partnership. A meeting of members of parliament from ACP countries and members of the European Parliament will also be held in June 2006.

Progress on the negotiations for economic partnership agreements between the EU and the ACP States will be assessed at a conference at the end of 2006. Work on preparing this meeting will have to start under the Austrian Presidency.

The meetings of the ACP-EU sub-groups and the political review mechanism for certain ACP states (“Article 96 procedure”) will also have to be prepared.

Work programme

During its Presidency, Austria will endeavour to place the emphasis on areas in which it has particular experience.

This will include initiatives on energy and democratic governance. Austria is thus planning an EU seminar at senior official level on energy issues in development cooperation (Vienna, 23 January 2006). This will also serve to define the EU’s development policy position for the deliberations of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development 2006/7. In the field of democratic governance, Austria attaches particular importance to the role of women before, during and after conflicts. Initiatives are also envisaged concerning improvements in the EU’s communication to the general public of its activities in the field of development cooperation. Finally, Austria will turn its attention to continuing the dialogue with the new Member States on building up development cooperation structures that comply with the "Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness" adopted by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development).

 

Date: 27.02.2006