European Commission
 
 

Statement

by 


Romano Prodi

the President of the European Commission
The North-South Pact

at the
 World Summit on Sustainable Development 

Johannesburg, South Africa
2 September 2002

Mr Chairman, 
ladies and gentlemen,

A year ago terrorists destroyed lives and flung down great symbols of our civilisation. But they did not dent our values or weaken our determination to defend them and keep them alive. Nor did they shake our faith in multilateral cooperation.

Multilateral cooperation has made remarkable progress in recent years: the Doha Conference on Trade and the Monterrey Conference on Development Financing were undeniable successes, and the Global Health Fund we have launched to fight against transmissible diseases is operational.

Here at Johannesburg we must set our sights higher. We must make more progress in reducing poverty and halting the destruction of our environment. We should act all together because it is the only way.

The public, here and at home, has doubts about globalisation. They know that the free movement of goods, services, capital and people brings wealth to our economies. At the same time, they worry about growing inequalities, the environment, and the instability of financial markets.

The citizens of the world look to us for answers. It is our duty not to disappoint them. Collectively, we have to show them we can harness the power of globalisation, give hope to the world's poor and preserve the resources and the beauty of our planet.

I know of no bigger challenge than this. Yet, as President of the European Commission and drawing on Europe's experience over the last half century, I wish to send this conference a message of determination and solidarity.

The determination we in Europe showed in pursuing integration guided by the principles of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

The solidarity that will extend our area of prosperity and stability to almost 80 million new citizens of the European Union. In the same spirit we are anxious to promote peace and development beyond our borders, especially in Africa and the Mediterranean.

Progress has been slow since Rio ten years ago. Mas - overty, widespread malnutrition, and a lack of safe drinking w at r are still with us. Illiteracy is rampant and too many are exposed to transmissible diseases.

But at the Millennium Summit we set ourselves ambitious targets in the fight against extreme poverty, and those targets can and must be met. This Summit must spell out concrete ways of reaching them. Attaching timetables to the targets is part of the solution.

Our environment is suffering, and the world's poor are worst hit by storms, droughts, floods, soil degradation and desertification.

In fifty years, 9 billion people will live on the planet and world output will quadruple. This means that we have to sever the link between economic growth and the degradation of the environment.

The European Union is convinced the Kyoto Protocol can be made to work. The EU has already signed and ratified it. We hope the ratifications soon to be announced will bring this instrument into force. We can then start the fight against greenhouse gases and global warming.

The increasing divide between North and South must become our new frontier, our new challenge. We got rid of a wall in Europe. We cannot accept another wall which cuts the world in two.

We are here in Johannesburg to forge a fresh pact between North and South on the basis of trust and our shared goal of sustainable development. This pact is about growth, development, sustainability and solidarity.

Growth needs trade and investment. The markets of the European Union are open, wide open, not least to the developing countries, from which we import goods worth over €400 billion every year.

At Doha we made extremely clear and detailed undertakings. I want to say again that we are ready to negotiate constructively on the basis of the Doha agenda to open markets further.

We recognise the importance of agriculture for developing countries and we agree that tariff reduction is not enough. Major reductions in trade-distorting domestic support and in all forms of export subsidies are also needed.

Proof of our commitment are the proposals on agriculture and fisheries my Commission has recently presented to our Member States. We propose to stop the depletion of fish resources. We therefore welcome the target set here in Johannesburg, which will not only stop the decline of fish stocks but restore them to sustainable levels. We propose to switch our agricultural policy away from production-linked aid to rural development.

Europe's record in development support is unparalleled. EU companies account for the largest share of investment in developing countries, nearly 70% of the world total in the year 2000. However, we can do much more if,we pull together.

This is why I call for better accommodation and protection of this investment in the Third World. This is why we see this conference as an opportunity to associate private business with public donors and beneficiaries in our major initiatives on water and energy.

Mr. Chairman,

The pact I put forward today rests on our shared recognition of the basic values of democracy, good governance, and social inclusion.
To be effective, this call for good governance must go hand-in-hand with tangible forms of solidarity.

Last spring, in Monterrey, we took the additional commitment to reach 0.39% of GDP in development assistance by 2006 as a stepping stone towards the goal of 0.7%.

Today I reaffirm that we shall honour our commitment and monitor its implementation. I know that it is not enough, we must do more in the future. But even this will make large additional resources available for sustainable development: €22 billion for the period up to 2006 and additional annual flows of €9 billion after that date. These funds will go as a priority to projects in water, energy, food production, education and health.

The industrialised countries must take the lead and develop production and consumption patterns leading to a sustainable future. But we all have something to contribute.

Let us use our research capacity, share our experience and technology. A ten-year work programme is therefore a key contribution we can make here to marshall our energies.

Tomorrow we will be unveiling a major initiative on water with our partners in Africa and the Newly Independent States. By bringing water to millions in Africa, it will make a major, contribution to halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation by 2015.

We also want to foster cooperation on international rivers and lakes so water can be turned into a factor for peace and not a source of conflict and war.

Drinking water is a top priority for the EU because for a fifth of humanity lack of access to clean water is the prime cause of bad health and underdevelopment. Lack of water deprives hundreds of millions of men--and above all women--of their energy, their time and, ultimately, their dignity.

The same applies to energy. We have already launched a partnership initiative to improve access to energy services. Simply put, we have no development, no schools, no clinics, no factories without proper access to electricity.

Finally, since we are on African soil, I would like to reaffirm Europe's active commitment to this continent.

At Monterrey I stressed the Commission's intention of giving all possible support to Africa and to the New Partnership for Africa's Development launched by the continent's most respected and courageous leaders. The Action Plan adopted by the G8 at Kananaskis was a first step, and I want you to know that the European Commission will play its part, in order to commit all the International Community to do more.

Our partnership with Africa will be strengthened through the Cotonou Convention linking the Union to more than eighty States in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. It will bring €13.5 billion in fresh financial resources for the development of these countries over the coming five years and will improve trade relations.

Negotiations on regional trade agreements will start in October. We will not miss the opportunity to further open our markets and step up regional integration among African countries.

So let me insist again: Africa remains very high on the EU's agenda.

Mr. Chairman,

Making this conference a success story for multilateral cooperation is a responsibility we must all shoulder. The lessons of history are there: we know well the risks failure may bring to world stability and peace. But we can rise to the challenge, we care reduce poverty and preserve our planet.

Here in Johannesburg we must show that we have the will and that we can make the right choice. You can count of the full support of the European Union and the Commission I lead.

Thank you.