Documents considered by the Committee on 23 March - European Scrutiny Committee Contents


8   The EU and the Least Developed Countries

(32551)

6736/11

Commission Staff Working Document: EU Position in view of the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, 9-13 May 2011

Legal base
Document originated16 February 2011
Deposited in Parliament1 March 2011
DepartmentInternational Development
Basis of considerationEM of 14 March 2011
Previous Committee ReportNone
To be discussed in CouncilTo be determined
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared

Background

8.1  The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000 are:

  • Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
  • Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
  • Goal 5: Improve maternal health
  • Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

They are due to be achieved by 2015. The eight MDGs are broken down into 21 quantifiable targets that are in turn measured by 60 indicators.[41]

8.2  In the late 1960s, the United Nations began paying special attention to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), recognizing those countries as the most vulnerable of the international community. The International Development Strategy for the second United Nations Development Decade for the 1970s incorporated special measures in favour of the least developed countries. In order to generate international attention and action to reverse the continuing deterioration of the socio-economic condition of these most vulnerable countries, the First United Nations Conference on the LDCs was held in Paris in 1981; this adopted a comprehensive Substantial New Programme of Action (SNPA) for the 1980s for the LDCs. The SNPA was subsequently endorsed by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 36/194 of 17 December 1981. To continue focus on the need for special measures for these countries, the Second United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC II) was held in 1990, also in Paris, adopting the Paris declaration and the Programme of Action for the LDCs for the 1990s.

8.3  The most recent United Nations Conference on the LDCs — LDC III — took place in May 2001 in Brussels. It concluded with the Brussels Programme of Action (BPoA), which sought to establish a framework for partnership between LDCs and their development partners "to accelerate sustained economic growth and sustainable development in LDCs, to end marginalization by eradicating poverty, inequality and deprivation in these countries, and to enable them to integrate beneficially into the global economy", covering a ten-year period.

8.4  The BPoA was endorsed by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 55/279 of 12 July 2001. Its main features are:

Goals and targets: The overarching goal was "to make substantial progress toward halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and suffering from hunger by 2015 and promote the sustainable development of the LDCs". The Programme of Action contains 30 international development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration. They are embedded in the commitments of the LDCs and their development partners;

Commitments: shared but differentiated responsibilities or mutual commitments of the LDCs and their development partners in seven interlinked areas: 1) fostering a people-centered policy framework; 2) good governance at national and international levels; 3) building human and institutional capacities; 4) building productive capacities to make globalization work for LDCs; 5) enhancing the role of trade in development; 6) reducing vulnerability and protecting the environment and 7) mobilizing financial resources;

Cross-cutting issues: ten cross-cutting priority issues: poverty eradication, gender equality, employment, governance at national and international levels, capacity-building, sustainable development, special problems of landlocked and small island LDCs, and challenges faced by LDCs affected by conflict;

Guiding principles:

  • An integrated approach: The development process should be viewed in a comprehensive, coherent and long-term manner by LDCs and their partners, including the UN and other multilateral agencies;
  • Genuine partnership: open and transparent development cooperation, underpinned by strong political will;
  • Country ownership: ensure genuinely country-led development;
  • Market considerations: ensure an appropriate mix of public-private participation, adequate attention to market as well as government weaknesses, and a stable legal and economic framework;
  • Result orientation: Success will depend critically on effective follow-up, implementation, monitoring and review at national, regional and global levels, and be judged by its contribution towards LDCs achieving international development targets and graduation from LDC status.[42]

The Commission Staff Working Document

8.5  The Fourth United Nations Conference on the LDCs (LDC IV) is to be held in Istanbul from 9-13 May 2011. The Conference's aims are:

  • undertake a comprehensive appraisal of the implementation of the BPoA;
  • identify effective international and domestic policies, in the light of the outcome of the appraisal, as well as new and emerging challenges and opportunities and the means to address them;
  • reaffirm the global commitment to addressing the special needs of the least developed countries, in particular related to sustainable development, and to support the least developed countries in eradicating poverty and integrating beneficially into the global economy; and
  • mobilise additional international support measures in favour of the least developed countries,[43] and formulate and adopt a renewed partnership between the LDCs and their development partners.

8.6  Two preparatory meetings are taking place in New York ahead of the conference. The first Prep Com, at which negotiations officially started, took place from 10-14 January; the second will take place from 4-8 April 2011. In order to prepare a common EU position for LDC IV before the second Prep Com, this paper, based on existing EU policies, outlines the priority issues that the Commission suggests the EU could promote.

8.7  The Commission's suggested Key Messages are:

  • EU support for the LDCs objective that half of them should graduate[44] by the end of the decade; both LDCs and their development partners should take the necessary action to considerably reduce poverty, with a firm resolve to increase the number of graduations;
  • all donors should continue working towards reaching the ODA target of 0.15 to 0.20% of GNI for LDCs and making their support more effective;
  • developing countries have the primary responsibility for their own development by designing and implementing appropriate policies and achieving good governance; LDCs need to assess why progress is slow, which commitments have not been met and why;
  • work should focus on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of existing mechanisms and fulfilling existing commitments, by both development partners and LDCs;
  • all available sources of financing should be mobilised, primarily domestic resources, complemented by innovative financing mechanisms and support from developed countries, the private sector and emerging donors;
  • emerging countries should thus provide their fair share of assistance to LDCs and the G20's work should support this aim;
  • the conference should be results-oriented, i.e. avoid focusing only on aid, narrow down its objectives, decide to review progress on a more frequent basis in a spirit of mutual accountability, and address the issue of graduation;
  • the BPoA's long list of priorities failed to pay sufficient attention to the feasibility of implementing them; yet the LDCs' proposal still contains 264 measures. LDC-IV should clearly distinguish between what should be achieved and how it should be done; set clear targets and indicators to measure progress; focus future measures on areas where the LDC-IV outcome can really add value, and pay due attention to implementation by the LDCs and their international partners;
  • a more systematic mechanism for granting time-sensitive concessions to countries which have recently graduated should be considered, in order to make graduation more appealing and allow LDCs to focus on accelerating progress towards graduation;

8.8  The Commission sees the EU's achievements in relation to the BPoA as:

  • the "Everything But Arms" initiative; since 1 January 2011, the new EU GSP "rules of origin" regime; the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative; FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement on Governance and Trade);
  • EU ODA to LDCs increasing by 78% from €8.3 billion in 2000 to €14.7 billion in 2009 (in $ terms it almost tripled);
  • the share of GNI spent on ODA to LDCs rising from 0.09% in 2000 to 0.13% in 2009, with eight EU countries already above the 0.15% threshold in 2009; and
  • the EU being still by far the largest donor to the LDCs (55% in 2008), with the share of Commission-managed EU aid to the LDCs rising from 21.6% in 2000 to 29.9% in 2009.

8.9  Nevertheless, since the LDC category was established in 1971, the number of LDCs has increased from 25 to 48, and only three have succeeded in graduating from LDC status: Botswana in 1994, Cape Verde in 2007, and Maldives in 2011. However, the Commission notes, many LDCs could potentially graduate within the next decade: two are about to graduate; ten LDCs have met one graduation threshold and could soon meet a second; and seven are likely to meet one to two graduation thresholds in the long run.

8.10  The Commission then puts forward a number of suggestions related to three issues that it sees as key to building on the MDG framework: (a) vulnerability; (b) a favourable environment for LDCs' sustainable development; and (c) inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

8.11  The Commission concludes by noting that "a well-governed state providing security and stability is key to designing and implementing such policies, and to strengthen human and institutional capacities, notably in the areas of education, science and technology", and by stating that "for many years, the EU has provided unwavering financial and technical support to the LDCs in order for them to reach graduation, going beyond the measures foreseen in the Brussels Programme of Action" and by calling for "careful consideration [to] be given to a dialogue on measures which could ease the transition period for graduating LDCs by putting in place a mechanism which enhances incentives to graduate."

The Government's view

8.12   In his Explanatory Memorandum of 14 March 2011, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for International Development (Mr Stephen O'Brien) says that the UK objective will be:

"to ensure the outcome of this Conference supports and complements the outcome of the MDG Summit which took place last September. In particular, the focus should be on reinforcing the need to align with the 2010-2015 action agenda agreed in the MDG Summit outcome document,[45] with a strong results-orientation."

8.13  One of the UK priorities will, he says, be:

"to work with partners to ensure that the outcome language on ODA levels is acceptable and reinforces existing commitments — in particular the EU Member States commitment to deliver 0.7% ODA/GNI by 2015, of which 0.15-0.2% ODA was to be targeted to LDCs by 2010."

8.14  The Minister says that he will also "look to support the existing debt sustainability framework and work with partners to ensure that wider HMG objectives are met — such as on innovative financing."

8.15  The Minister notes that the LDC IV Conference has three supporting preparatory "tracks" — Private Sector, Civil Society and Parliaments: "Civil society, to date, has not seen the LDC IV Conference as a major development opportunity in 2011, but we stand ready to engage with them as required."

8.16  Finally, the Minister says that the Council are looking to agree Council Conclusions as soon as possible.

Conclusion

8.17   It is difficult not to note the many similarities between the various components of the prescription for lifting the LDCs out of poverty laid down in the 2001 Brussels Programme of Action and, ten years on, those that the Commission feels continue to need to be advocated. As the Minister notes, while some progress has been achieved against the BPoA, its work is generally seen as unfinished and for the most part to have failed to deliver major development gains to the LDCs. There have no doubt been many failings by all concerned. But perhaps the biggest has been in good governance: as the Commission notes, "a well-governed state providing security and stability is key". While there are, happily, some bright spots, there are also too many dark ones, where anything but good governance is the norm, and where the development process is inevitably undermined.

8.18  There is, however, no good alternative to persevering nonetheless. The Minister no doubt hopes that the Council Conclusions and Common Position, and the outcome of the subsequent LDC IV, will adequately reflect his aims and objectives. We are content to leave it to others to pursue these further matters, and, with this in mind, are drawing this chapter of our Report to the attention of the International Development Committee.

8.19  In the meantime, we now clear the document.


Annex: The Millennium Development Goals, Targets and Indicators
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
Goals and Targets

(from the Millennium Declaration)
Indicators for monitoring progress
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Target 1: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than less than one dollar a day 1. Proportion of population below $1 (PPP) per day

2. Poverty gap ratio [incidence x depth of poverty]

3. Share of poorest quintile in national consumption

Target 2: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger 4. Prevalence of underweight children under five years of age

5. Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Target 3: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling 6. Net enrolment ratio in primary education

7. Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach grade 5b

8. Literacy rate of 15-24 year-olds

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Target 4: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015 9. Ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education

10. Ratio of literate women to men, 15-24 years old

11. Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector

12. Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Target 5: Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate 13. Under-five mortality rate

14. Infant mortality rate

15. Proportion of 1 year-old children immunised against measles

Goals and Targets

(from the Millennium Declaration)
Indicators for monitoring progress
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Target 6: Reduce by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio 16. Maternal mortality ratio

17. Proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Target 7: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS 18. HIV prevalence among pregnant women aged 15-24 years

19. Condom use rate of the contraceptive prevalence rate

19a. Condom use at last high-risk sex

19b. Percentage of population aged 15-24 years with comprehensive correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS

19c. Contraceptive prevalence rate

20. Ratio of school attendance of orphans to school attendance of non-orphans aged 10-14 years

Target 8: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases 21. Prevalence and death rates associated with malaria

22. Proportion of population in malaria-risk areas using effective malaria prevention and treatment measures

23. Prevalence and death rates associated with tuberculosis

24. Proportion of tuberculosis cases detected and cured under directly observed treatment short course DOTS (Internationally recommended TB control strategy)

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Target 9: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources 25. Proportion of land area covered by forest

26. Ratio of area protected to maintain biological diversity to surface area

27. Energy use (kg oil equivalent) per $1 GDP (PPP)

28. Carbon dioxide emissions per capita and consumption of ozone­depleting CFCs (ODP tons)

29. Proportion of population using solid fuels


Goals and Targets

(from the Millennium Declaration)
Indicators for monitoring progress
Target 10: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation 30. Proportion of population with sustainable access to an improved water source, urban and rural

31. Proportion of population with access to improved sanitation, urban and rural

Target 10: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation 30. Proportion of population with sustainable access to an improved water source, urban and rural

31. Proportion of population with access to improved sanitation, urban and rural

Target 11: By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers 32. Proportion of households with access to secure tenure

Goals and Targets

(from the Millennium Declaration)
Indicators for monitoring progress
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
Target 12: Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system

Includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction — both nationally and internationally

Target 13: Address the special needs of the least developed countries

Includes: tariff and quota free access for the least developed countries' exports; enhanced programme of debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) and cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous ODA for countries committed to poverty reduction

Target 14: Address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing States (through the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the outcome of the twenty-second special session of the General Assembly)

Target 15: Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term

Some of the indicators listed below are monitored separately for the least developed countries (LDCs), Africa, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.

Official development assistance (ODA)

33. Net ODA, total and to the least developed countries, as percentage of OECD/DAC donors' gross national income

34. Proportion of total bilateral, sector-allocable ODA of OECD/DAC donors to basic social services (basic education, primary health care, nutrition, safe water and sanitation)

35. Proportion of bilateral official development assistance of OECD/DAC donors that is untied

36. ODA received in landlocked developing countries as a proportion of their gross national incomes

37. ODA received in small island developing States as a proportion of their gross national incomes

Market access

38. Proportion of total developed country imports (by value and excluding arms) from developing countries and least developed countries, admitted free of duty

39. Average tariffs imposed by developed countries on agricultural products and textiles and clothing from developing countries

40. Agricultural support estimate for OECD countries as a percentage of their gross domestic product

41. Proportion of ODA provided to help build trade capacity

Debt sustainability

42. Total number of countries that have reached their HIPC decision points and number that have reached their HIPC completion points (cumulative)

43. Debt relief committed under HIPC Initiative

44. Debt service as a percentage of exports of goods and services

Goals and Targets

(from the Millennium Declaration)
Indicators for monitoring progress
Target 16: In cooperation with developing countries, develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth 45. Unemployment rate of young people aged 15-24 years, each sex and total
Target 17: In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries 46. Proportion of population with access to affordable essential drugs on a sustainable basis
Target 18: In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications 47. Telephone lines and cellular subscribers per 100 population

48. Personal computers in use per 100 population Internet users per 100 population





41   See the Annex to this chapter of our Report. Back

42   See http://www.un.org/special-rep/ohrlls/ldc/BD%20and%20POA%20of%20LDCs.htm for full information on the Brussels Programme of Action. Back

43   The Commission notes that LDC status is currently characterized by a low GNI per capita, and structural impediments to growth measured by a low Human Assets Index (HAI) and a high Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI). The HAI has 4 indicators: undernourishment, under 5 mortality, secondary school enrolment, and adult literacy. The EVI has 7 indicators: population size, remoteness, merchandise export concentration, share of agriculture, forestry and fisheries in GDP, homelessness due to natural disasters, instability of agricultural production, and instability of exports of goods and services. Back

4 44  4 Graduation from the list of LDCs occurs when a country has made sufficient progress on two LDC criteria, or when its GNI per capita has significantly increased and is deemed highly likely to remain sustainable. Back

45   For details of the Summit, including the action agenda, see http://www.undp.org/mdg/summit.shtml.  Back


 
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