Romano Prodi
President of the European Commission

at the
International Conference on Financing for Development

Monterrey, Mexico
March 22, 2002

Mr President,

It is only just over six months since 11 September, when the whole world recoiled in horror at one of the worst attacks ever perpetrated against our civilisation. We were quick to demonstrate our solidarity, our unity and our determination to fight terrorism. This fight must continue. And we must show the same determination today in tackling the other crucial issues which affect the future of the world.

We began these efforts in Doha last November, with our decision to launch an ambitious agenda for negotiations on opening up our markets and agreeing collective rules on a large number of issues related to trade and investment. We also decided in Doha to admit China to the World Trade Organisation and to give the developing world a greater share in world economic decisions.

We will be meeting again soon for the World Food Summit and then later in the year in Johannesburg for the Summit on Sustainable Development.

These different conferences are obviously all linked. They all deal with different aspects of the same problem: how to control global interdependence collectively and to harness globalisation; how to give hope to the world's poor; and how to preserve the resources of our planet.

The public at home are sceptical about globalisation. They know that the free movement of goods, services, capital and people brings our economies the wealth without which it is impossible to satisfy their legitimate aspirations. At the same time they worry about ever-growing inequalities, the threats to our environment, the instability of the financial markets and the rise in organised crime. They look to us for constructive responses. It is our duty not to disappoint them.

For Europe the year 2002 began with the successful introduction of our single currency, the euro. It will end, I hope, with the conclusion of negotiations for the accession of ten new Member States. We are at one and the same time deepening the Union and striving to reunify Europe on the basis of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. We will be extending our area of stability and prosperity to almost 80 million more European citizens.

We bring to Monterrey a message of peace: the peace we have established on our continent and the peace we are trying to promote around us, notably in the Mediterranean region and Africa. We also bring a message of solidarity: the solidarity we have forged between the countries of the European Union and the solidarity we have extended to the rest of Europe and to all the developing countries that receive aid from us.

Our markets are open, wide open, not least to the developing countries, from which we import goods worth more than € 400 billion every year.

The EU recently took an unprecedented step through the initiative Everything but arms, when we decided to open our markets, including our agricultural markets, unilaterally and totally, to imports from the poorest countries.

And we have decided to pursue the liberalisation of trade, including trade in sensitive sectors like agriculture, as part of a balanced negotiation of the Doha agenda. We undertake to negotiate constructively to ensure that the success of the Doha Round gives a lasting boost to the world economy, confirms our commitment to multilateralism and benefits the developing world.

EU companies account for by far the largest share of investment in developing countries: nearly 70% of the world total in 2000. But we are willing, through multilateral and bilateral negotiation, to improve the conditions for accommodating and protecting this investment, thereby increasing it still further. We are also willing to provide assistance, as we are doing in Eastern Europe, to promote the economic reforms and regional integration that will enable our partners to attract even more investment.

We are conscious of the absolute moral imperative of combating the extreme poverty suffered by one fifth of humanity and we have fully endorsed the historic development goals written into the Millennium Declaration.

We know that in order to attain these objectives it is necessary both to improve the effectiveness and to substantially increase the volume of official development aid.

The European Union reaffirms its commitment to the target of 0.7% of GNP to be devoted to development aid, a target that several Member States have already attained and overtaken. For this Monterrey Conference the EU Member States have collectively set themselves the interim target of 0.39% by 2006. This is a formal commitment which will allow a substantial increase in the amounts allocated to relieving poverty. Aid from the EU and its Member States will increase by about E 8 billion (approximately USD 7 billion) per year by 2006 from its current level of E 27 billion, more than 50% of the world's ODA. Over the period 2003-2006, this progressive increase will enable us to devote about E 22 billion more to the fight against poverty.

We are giving priority to health and education in the allocation of our aid and are making a substantial contribution to the Global Health Fund to fight AIDS and other contagious diseases.

Mr President,

Globalisation requires cooperation, and solid and respected institutions to organise the many forms it takes. And in order to engage the true commitment and support of the world's people such cooperation needs to be based on shared principles and rules.

At President Fox's invitation we shall shortly be looking at the various aspects of the collective action needed if we are to achieve our goals, in other words if we are to harness globalisation more constructively, and I hope that this Conference will send out the right signal expected by world opinion.

I do not want to finish without a word about Africa, Europe's neighbour, that sometimes forgotten and war-torn continent. I would like to underline the importance of the message issued by a group of brave and respected African leaders who launched the New Partnership for African Development. They deserve our unstinting support.

Mr President,

The events of recent months show that our world is at a crossroads. Two equally possible paths lie ahead: the spread of poverty and marginalisation, war and environmental degradation; or advancing together towards a period of progress, peace and prosperity. Our future is a matter of political will and choice. Europe is opting for openness and solidarity. And I would call on our partners to work with us in a global partnership for peace and sustainable development.

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