EU Australia Online - News & information from the capital of Europe direct to Australian businesses

Heated Arguments As “Third World” / EU Politicians Meet

  • July 5th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

acp-eu-parlts.jpgDisagreements about how to handle Zimbabwe, support for the peace-keeping mission to Darfur, new angles on migration, and perennial worries about fairness in trade, HIV-AIDS and official corruption headed the concerns of politicians from developing countries and Europe, when they met at Wiesbaden, Germany, (25-28.6.07).

The occasion was a Joint Parliamentary Assembly of the African Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) and the European Parliament, brining together representatives of 105 coutnries – 78 ACP, 27 EU.

ARGUMENTS OVER ZIMBABWE

There was heated debate over a resolution listing concerns about famine and gross violation of human rights in Zimbabwe, which was not put to a vote, on the insistence of several African delegates, since Zimbabwe was not represented at the gathering.

The assembly was informed of the incident in which a Zimbabwean Opposition MP, Nelson Chamisa, was attacked and injured at Harare airport, as he was attempting to travel to a meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels last March.

DARFUR TRAGEDY

The gathering welcomed the move to install a hybrid peace keeping force – United Nations and SAfrican union — to help resolve crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. It approved the agreement of the Sudanese government to this project, and also emphasised the role of China as a leading presence in the situation in Sudan.

Louis Michel, the EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid said it was crucial for the international community to stick to the agreed roadmap on Darfur, with rebel groups being brought to the table, “not allowing them to splinter any further.”

One Co-President of the ACP-EU Assembly, Glenys Kinnock, from the United Kingdom, said the 19,000 strong force would be dealing with a situation where violence had killed more than 200,000 people and made 2.5 million people refugees.

The international community had to ensure that agreement on the force was honoured, and a new ceasefire agreement reached, with highest importance to be given to new negotiations for a political settlement.

A delegation of five MEPs from the European Parliament Development Committee was set to travel to Darfur (30.6.07 – 6.7.07).

TRADE AND AID

The parliamentarians continued debate over economic partnership agreements (EPAs), the bilateral trade and assitance deals being signed between the European Union and individual developing countries, replacing long-standing general agreements on trade concessions.

Trade assistance measures such as tariff breaks for primary products exported to Europe were set against the question of free-trade access for European goods and services.

They declared support for special measures to assist communities heavily dependent on growing fruit, vegetables and flowers, several parliamentarians insisting that governments in developing states were obliged to follow policies to protect their populations.

Horst Köhler, the President of Germany, told the gathering that EPAs fitted the framework of liberalised world trade, and despite setbacks in international negotiations, free trade should still be supported.

“We should not abandon the idea of multilateral trade; the new EPA regime is important above all to promote local production; it will be necessary to organise the opening of these countries to be able to support competition and ensure food security,” he said.

However the ACP-EU Co-President René Radembino-Coniquet, from Gabon, said the ACP countries had legitimate concerns about “probable risks of economic meltdown”, that would not be helped by the premature opening of markets.

“The consequences are obvious for ACP countries which could lead to a perpetual and immense stock of imports,” he said.

MIGRATION BRAIN DRAIN TO UK, US AND AUSTRALIA

The assembly called for inter-governmental co-operation to ease the “brain drain” of skilled workers to the European Union. It said the EU-ACP partnership agreement should take in specific migration regimes where migration of skilled workers was happening on a wide scale, especially from sub-Saharan-African countries – with adverse economic and social effects.

It said European policies were giving too much weight to security concerns, in preference to accentuating development policies; it proposed answers like changed international or bilateral mutual recognition of diplomas and skills; explicit efforts to fight discrimination at the recruitment stage; more flexibility of entry and readmission requirements in both home countries and host countries; more flexible work contracts, and more open re-entry options for circular migrants.

Louis Straker, an MP from St. Vincent and the Grenadines said that in his region of the Caribbean, the United States, Britain and Australia were “scooping up” many Caribbean trained nurses; and some 70% of doctors from the West Indies were ending up in the USA or UK.

The government of his country had started a program to train student nurses from all social backgrounds, but because of the outflow of professionals as migrants, the recipient countries should provide finance for their training.

FIGHTING CORRUPTION

On governance standards the parliamentarians made a link between use of natural resources and the quality of management, declaring governments should make sure that revenue from resources went to services for their citizens.

They demanded better processes to block off corruption , with budgetary control by parliaments, independent audits, and transparent state budgets.

DEBT RELIEF AND HIV-AIDS

European delegates said they were assured their governments would honour commitments to double aid to developing countries and write off debt.

On HIV-AIDS the parliamentarians wanted their countries to ensure their populations had access to reasonably priced anti retroviral drugs

The gathering was the 13th Joint Parliamentary Assembly; the next is scheduled to take place in November, in Kigali, Rwanda ; it will precede the planned December summit of Heads of Government of all of the states of Africa, with their European Union counterparts.

Reference: Website of the ACP/EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/intcoop/acp/60_13/default_en.htm (5.7.07)
Picture: Assembly at Wiesbaden, EPP-ED Group, European Parliament, http://www.epp-ed.eu/ (5.7.07)

Leave a Reply