| The Courier- N°143 - Jan-Feb 1994 Dossier: Fighting poverty Country Report : Niger |
|The convention at work|
EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENT FUND
Following, where required, favourable opinions from the EDF Committee, the Commission has decided to provide grants and special loans from the 5th, 6th and 7th EDFs to finance the following operations (grants unless otherwise stated):
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE
Swaziland: ECU 1.1m for equipment improvements and expanded accommodation at the Vocational and Commercial Training Institute (VOCTIM) in Matsapha.
Kenya: ECU 0.385m to upgrade and extend a clinic in Nairobi specialising in the treatment of AIDS and sexually-transmitted diseases.
Mali: ECU 1.989m to improve village water infrastructures.
Fiji: ECU 1.135m to rebuild the Vunidawa and Korovou bridges.
Sierra Leone: ECU 7m for water supplies and the improvement of hygiene in the rural communities of five regions in the Northern Province.
Guyana: ECU 4.5m for the second phase of the New Amsterdam water supply project.
Chad: ECU 8.3m for a village water project involving the sinking of new boreholes, rehabilitation of existing wells and, in time, the building of new wells.
Congo: ECU 10m to support the implementation of the national sanitary development programme.
Chad: ECU 7m for the upgrading and maintenance of rural roads, with a view to facilitating the transport of cotton.
Benin: ECU 16m as a contribution to the cost of rebuilding the Parakou-Djougou road.
Gabon: ECU 11 m to support the rehabilitation of the national health system.
Somalia: ECU 38m for the rehabilitation programme.
Suriname: ECU 4.5m, of which ECU 1.8m is in the form of a loan, for resurfacing a section of the main coast road linking the capital with the eastern frontier of Guyana.
Mozambique: ECU 12m for a reconstruction and resettlement programme, the latter being aimed at returning people displaced by the war to their home areas.
Mali: ECU 5m for a development support programme in 11 'secondary' towns in the Segou and Mopti regions.
Mali: ECU 2.9m to help bring about long-term improvements in the availability of drinking water through the provision of 70 supply points, powered by solar pumps, in rural and semi-urban areas.
Mauritius: ECU 7m to improve the irrigation infrastructure on the west coast.
Indian Ocean countries (Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Comoros): ECU 3.3m for the complete automation of telecommunications in the region.
Jamaica: ECU 25m (special loan from the Sysmin funds of the 5th EDF, transferred to the 7th EDF) for the upgrading of the sewerage systems of Negril and Ocho Rios.
Cameroon, Central African Republic: ECU 1.5m for a feasibility study in connection with the rehabilitation of the Bertoua-Garoua-Boulai road.
TRADE PROMOTION/STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT
Guinea Bissau: ECU 8m from the structural adjustment facility to support a general import programme. Ethiopia: ECU 75m to support a general import programme.
SADC countries (Angola, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe): ECU 10m for a programme against foot and mouth disease in Southern Africa.
Central African countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon): ECU 2m for a regional project in support of the banana research activities of the CRBP (Centre RÃ©gional Bananiers et Plantains) in NyombÃ©, Cameroon.
West African countries (Burkina Faso, CÃ´te d'Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal): ECU 2.8m to participate in a research programme on the improvement and management of fallow lands.
Burkina Faso: ECU 9.6m for a sectoral livestock support programme.
SADC countries: ECU 1.5m to support the 'EEC-Southern African Mining Forum' organisation.
Mozambique: ECU 1.95m for financial support to Mozambican students in Eastern Europe.
Mali: ECU 6.81m for the battle against desertification and for the development of forest resources in the northern regions of the country.
Botswana: ECU 6.4m, for infrastructure, equipment and technical assistance for the use and protection of natural resources in the centre and south of the country.
Uganda: ECU 1.5m, in the form of equipment, and technical and financial assistance, for the External Aid Coordination Department (EACD) of the Ministry of Finance. Uganda: ECU 1.95m to support the election process for the Constitutive Assembly. Central African countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon): ECU 5.5m for the TIPAC (inter-state transit for the countries of Central Africa) regional project, in the form of technical assistance and training for the national TIPAC committees. PALOP countries (Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Sao TomÃ© and Principe): ECU 4.3m for a training programme to be undertaken by CENFA (the Cape Verde national centre for training in public administration).
Burkina Faso: ECU 2m for technical assistance and the provision of services for the Bagre hydro-agricultural scheme. Countries of Southern and Eastern Africa (10 SADC countries - Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe - and three others - Comoros, Uganda and Ethiopia): ECU 4.95m to support the Eastern and Southern Africa Mineral Resources Development Centre (ESAMRDC). The assistance will be in the form of computer facilities, technical assistance and training. Malawi: ECU 3.222m in the form of basic equipment and support for infrastructure and social services (roads, wells and health centres) for Mozambican refugees. Burkina Faso: ECU 1m (Sysmin advance) for urgent assistance to the 'SociÃ©tÃ© de Recherches et d'Exploitation MiniÃ¨res' designed to reduce costs and re-establish production capacity. Pacific ACP States (Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Western Samoa): ECU 5m for a regional project to evaluate and control tuna stocks in the South Pacific.
EUROPEAN INVESTMENT BANK
Tuvalu: ECU 500 000 to finance investments by SMEs in the manufacturing, agro-industrial, transport, tourism and industry-related service sectors.
Eastern Caribbean (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines): ECU 3m to support investments in SMEs, principally in the tourist sector.
French Polynesia: ECU 10m for SME projects in the industrial, agro-industrial, fisheries, tourism and productive infrastructure sectors.
Zimbabwe: ECU 37m towards the cost of building a 400 km-long high-tension electricity line linking up with the South African network (from Matimba in the Transvaal, through Botswana, to the western frontier of Zimbabwe).
Zimbabwe: ECU 7m in risk capital to boost the finances of a private sector enterprise (Art Corporation Ltd), aimed at improving production of plastic and paper products.
Eritrea joins LomÃ© Convention
The newly independent state of Eritrea in East Africa has become the 70th ACP State to subscribe to the LomÃ© Convention. The country seceded from Ethiopia, a party to the Convention, and declared its independence on 24 May 1993, but the new government announced that it would abide by the principle that a successor state continues to observe the treaties signed by its predecessor. A decision by the ACP-EC Council of Ministers dated 22 October 1993 has now laid down that the Convention will continue to apply to Eritrea as from 24 May, including those parts of it (Articles 329 to 331) which provide for special treatment for the least-developed ACP States.
Economic and Social Committee issues its Opinion on the LomÃ© IV mid-term review
On 21 October, the Economic and Social Committee of the EU, which brings together representatives of businesses, trade unions and consumers, adopted an 'Opinion' on the subject of the forthcoming mid-term review of LomÃ© IV.
Among its general conclusions, the Committee believes that revision is necessary to take account of the changed international context. It argues, however, that 'every effort should be made at least to maintain the real value of the Community's financial assistance to ACP countries for the second half of the ten-year period.'
As regards specific aspects of the relationship, the ESC endorses the view that it should be possible to reduce or suspend aid in the event of sustained government breaches of human rights, the 'flouting' of free election results or the toppling of freely elected governments by force.' As a corollary to this, it should also be possible to enhance aid in response to progress in democratisation. Particular emphasis is given to the subject of decentralised cooperation, notably as regards encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the ACP States. The ESC also calls for closer control of, and greater transparency in, the procedures for selecting projects and awarding contracts. At the same time, it suggests greater devolution of decision-making from Brussels to the delegations, a process which would require increasing the staff of the latter. Other areas covered in the Opinion include a proposal relating to debt reduction, a suggestion that new settlement procedures be established for dealing with disputes between the partners and a plea for greater leeway for NGOs to undertake small scale projects without the need for prior agreement from the ACP authorities.
Turning point for Economic and Social Partners
The economic and social partners are calling for a greater role in the national development funding programmes (the 'indicative programmes') agreed between the European Community and the ACP countries and have laid down a detailed set of proposals which they hope will be taken up by the ACP-EC Joint Assembly. In their final declaration on 8 December, following three days of discussion, the ACP and EC economic and social partners (the latter being members of the EC's Economic and Social Committee), called for the institutions of the European Union and the governments of the Member States to encourage ACP governments to involve representatives of industry, unions and agriculture in the construction of national economic policies.
The declaration also calls for direct funding for projects in the ACP countries by the European Union, circumventing in certain cases the present intermediary role of the national government of the country concerned. This procedure would take the form of a time-limit for a reply from the national government, after which the European Commission would be able to authorise funding, providing there was no objection from the national government.
The economic and social partners are also demanding a report on past investments by the EC in the ACP countries. They criticised, furthermore, what they saw as a lack of contact between EC delegations in the ACP countries and the local representatives of business, workers, farmers, women's groups and others. The declaration calls for EC delegations to be mandated to facilitate effective decentralised cooperation.
The participants also proposed the creation of a 'Follow-up Committee' comprising 12 ACP and 12 European representatives. The task of this committee would be to ensure that the viewpoint of the economic and social partners was heard by the institutions of the LomÃ© Convention during the negotiations relating to the mid-term review.
The Follow-up Committee would also conduct a trial procedure in six ACP countries aimed at the participation of the economic and social partners in the establishment of cooperation programmes under LomÃ© IV.
The ACP co-rapporteur, Seydou Diarra, who is President of the CÃ´te d'Ivoire Chamber of Commerce stated: 'The European Union and the ACP-EC Joint Assembly have ignored the economic and social partners for too long.'
He added that the declaration was a 'turning point' for them. 'It is the culmination of three years work and is the first concrete and detailed set of proposals since our annual meetings began 17 years ago. S.Y.
The importance of being young
The LomÃ© Convention's contribution to youth went under the microscope at the fourth Assembly of Youth from the EC and ACP countries, held in Brussels on 10-14 October. While their elders were meeting in the Joint Assembly to debate the Convention's revision, the younger generation was emphasising the importance of youth - who make up a significant proportion of the ACP population. At the end of the proceedings, the Assembly adopted the second cooperation programme between youth organisations in the EC and ACP States.
MEPs welcome Commission's ECU 1 billion rehabilitation proposal
The European Parliament's Development Committee has welcomed a proposal from the Commission to allocate ECU 1 billion to a special support programme to restore the economic and social structure of developing countries after crises, wars or major natural disasters. According to the proposal, the European Community would contribute 60% of the rehabilitation funds, with the Member States supplying the remainder. Priority would be given to Africa, where the countries most in need of this type of bridging aid between emergency assistance and long-term development are Somalia, Angola, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Liberia and Mozambique. The Community has already committed ECU 100m to rehabilitation work in Africa this year, but the Development Committee believes that a single emergency programme is not sufficient, and calls for a permanent facility of this type to be established within the Community budget, so that it can be called on at short notice whenever the need arises. At the committee's meeting on 4/S November, its rapporteur on rehabilitation, Sotiris Kostopoulos (Socialist), said there should be better international cooperation in this area, plus more money from the Member States, and that procedures for paying out such aid should be speeded up. Programmes should focus on agricultural production, food security and the rebuilding of basic social infrastructure, and the people living in the countries concerned should be fully involved. Margaret Da/y (European People's Party) added that locally available materials should be used where possible, as a contribution towards sustainable development at a later stage. The initial impetus for rehabilitation measures in Africa came from European NGOs a year ago. A further call for increased funds for rehabilitation came in a report on the situation in Somalia by Luciano Vecchi (Soc.). Maria Luisa Cassanmagnago Cerretti (EPP) insisted that priority go to making sure that basic health, education and training services operated and that farming and herding could be resumed. The committee noted that the civil war was still raging despite the presence of UN peacekeeping forces, and called on the UN Security Council to reconsider its policy and its objectives in Somalia as a matter of urgency. The UN must keep troops there, however, to ensure that humanitarian aid is properly delivered and to help bring about reconciliation - though any political solution to the conflict must be found by the Somalis themselves. The report called on the EC Commission to reopen its office in Somalia and said the Community should use all the unused funds still available under the country's national indicative programme and LomÃ© III to develop those parts of Somalia outside the capital, Mogadishu, where comparative peace prevailed.
At the same meeting, the Development Committee adopted a report by Maria Belo (Soc.) on social protection for volunteer development workers, calling for binding Community legislation which would encourage more qualified young people to volunteer their services in developing countries by guaranteeing them a level of social security coverage while abroad comparable to what they would receive in their home countries. The committee also asked the Commission to investigate ways of setting up a European volunteer service and suggested that work done for it by young people could be treated as an alternative to military service.
At the end of 1992 there were nearly 9000 volunteers from the 12 EC Member States working in the developing countries, primarily in Africa. A survey done in the 1980s showed that 30% of volunteers were couples, often with dependent children, and that four out of five of all volunteers did not renew their contracts because of the serious social insurance problems they faced while overseas. Several hundred volunteers working for NGOs are jointly financed by the EC, but there is no funding for recruiting such workers under the LomÃ© IV Convention, a situation which Parliament believes should be corrected.
In an opinion on energy and development drafted by Marijke Van Hemeldonck (Soc.) the committee said it was assumed that in 20 years' time the developing countries would be using as much energy as the industrialised countries use today. Indeed, the developing countries possess a substantial proportion of the worldwide reserves of traditional sources of energy, including almost half the world's natural gas reserves, But increasing energy consumption poses a threat to the environment, so new technologies need to be developed and introduced to allow a switch to alternative sources of energy, such as biogas produced from slaughterhouse waste, manufactured vegetable oils which can be used in internal combustion engines, geothermic heat, wind and solar energy. In particular, the committee believes that development aid should be put into building up the infrastructure for solar energy, an inexhaustible source which in the near future is expected to meet some 50% of the energy requirements of the developing countries. The use of nuclear power, on the other hand, was fraught with problems, owing to difficulties with safety, reprocessing and storage, the possibility of using fissile material in the arms industry and the unstable political and social situation in a number of developing countries. R.R.
NGOs meet Manuel Marin
A delegation from the Liaison Committee representing the Development NGOs in the European Union met Commissioner Marin on 30 November to discuss, among other things, the mid-term review of the LomÃ© Convention. This was the first meeting to be held in the context of Mr Marin's decision to engage in a more organised and systematic dialogue with the non-governmental organisations. The NGOs subsequently issued a statement setting out some of their views on the future of the LomÃ© system. They agreed that common ground existed between themselves and the Commission regarding the objectives (democracy, human rights, proper management, rapid and flexible procedures, and efficiency) but stressed the need for vigilance in safeguarding the LomÃ©' spirit of partnership'. They also urged that the 'treatment' prescribed to make the Convention more effective should not result in 'killing the patient', and affirmed their desire to continue acting as the 'agents of European public opinion' in the LomÃ© IV discussions.
Denmark leads the field
Denmark may have started the jitters about the Maastricht Treaty, but it also leads the field when it comes to implementing the European single market. A new survey shows that most Member States are badly behind in turning EC single market legislation into the necessary national law. Out of 219 items in the Internal Market White Paper for transposition, only 106 had been brought into force in all 12 Member States - nine months after the official opening of the frontiers! Denmark had already incorporated 94% of the Community legislation required, at the time the study was completed, while Greece, at the bottom of the table, had managed only 77%.
COMMON FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY
The European Union has, within the framework of its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), recently issued the following statements on events of inter national interest:
Statement on Congo 18 November 1993
The European Union is following with great concern recent developments in the situation in Congo. It particularly deplores the violence and disorder which have caused numerous innocent victims in the capital of the country and have resulted in a climate of insecurity. The European Union appeals to all parties and authorities concerned to show moderation and pursue a constructive dialogue in the spirit of conciliation which marked the Libreville Agreement and with respect for democratic institutions. The European Union reiterates its support for the Libreville Agreement, which it is helping to follow up together with other members of the international community. In this context it is more than ever essential that the international arbitration board dealing with the electoral dispute can carry out its task in complete independence and tranquillity. The European Union considers that all Congolese must make every conceivable effort to ensure that the electoral process is finally brought to a conclusion without disturbance.
Statement on Nigeria 19 November 1993
The European Union condemns the fact that the democratic process in Nigeria has been interrupted through the resumption of power by a military dictatorship, which constitutes a serious setback for both Nigeria and the whole of Africa. It strongly urges the Nigerian military authorities to reestablish democratic institutions with all speed. The European Union has decided to examine without delay the consequences of this regression in the democratic process in Nigeria.