European Development NGOs critizise EU preparations for UN Development Conference in Monterrey as unsufficient

Brussels, 11.03.2002 - As world leaders prepare for the global conference on Financing for Development, scheduled for next week in Monterrey, Mexico (18-22 March), European non-governmental organizations issue a staunch warning that the conference might result in failure. In a statement of 70 NGOs from EU member states and accession countries, the draft outcome paper of the conference (Monterrey Consensus) is critizised as “void of any concrete commitment for raising the finances needed to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.”

The Millennium Goals of the UN, signed by governments in September 2000, call for halving the number of the world’s poor by 2015. The World Bank and other international agencies estimate that additional 50 Mrd USD annually are needed to meet the goals. This would mean that actual levels of development assistance would need to double.

At today’s morning discussions in the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels, participants so far failed to agree on a proposal of the European Commission to raise development assistance of member states to an average 0,39 percent of GDP by the year 2006. The European Commission’s proposal is part of a package of commitments that the EU Presidency intends to deliver unilaterally next week in Monterrey. German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, is reported to object the proposal, suggesting to postpone a decision to the informal EU-Summit next weekend in Barcelona. Also Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, acting ad interim as Foreign Minister, wants to delay a decision. Spanish Foreign Minister Pique, who is holding the rotating EU presidency, is instead insisting that the matter must be decided by EU Foreign ministers during their ongoing meeting which will continue tomorrow.

“In the two years of negotiations leading up to Monterrey the EU has completely failed to secure a meaningful outcome. Now, in a last ditch, the EU Presidency is at least trying to engage the Union in a concrete commitment to be delivered next week in Monterrey”, says XXX of XXX. “Though the fact that the EU is now discussing a unilateral proposal for Monterrey is in itself a statement of the failure of the multilateral process, we note with concern that Foreign Ministers seem even unable to agree on the modest proposal to raise European development assistance to 0,39 percent by 2006, a commitment that falls short of the Union’s own goal - as stated at the recent Laeken Summit - of raising development assistance to 0,7 percent of GDP. In light of the failure of EU governments to move beyond ‘business-as-usual’, we will be present in Monterrey to declare our dissent with the Monterrey Consensus.”