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Barroso outlines Europe's stance on UN's Millennium Development Goals

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Barroso outlines Europe's stance on UN's Millennium Development Goals

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They will be difficult to attain, but the UN’s Millennium Development Goals are feasible according to José-Manuel Barroso.

They have been at the heart of debates in New York, so what is Europe’s role in reaching them?

The European Commission President told euronews his priorities for the future are: more money, a better partnership between donors and beneficiaries, and innovative financial tools like a tax on financial transactions.

Valérie Gauriat – euronews:

“The EU is the biggest donor in terms of development aid, yet many poor countries are saying that a lot of this aid is diluted in various layers of bureaucracy, intermediaries, foreign contractors. Do you agree with that and what changes do you think should be made ?

José Manuel Barroso – European Commission President

“We are very much in favour of joint accountability for aid. In fact, we are pushing for that goal, we want to make it happen, so that we can together – the donor community and the recipient countries – make an assessment of the aid and how it is really implemented.”

euronews:

“At this stage very few EU countries have met the 0.7 percent target and most of them are far from it. Realistically how many will make it for 2015?”

José Manuel Barroso:

“It’s true that we have to win this case with the public opinion and with our member states. If we have difficulties in Europe, and its true we have, there are people in the world that are dying because they don’t have enough to eat, they are dying because they don’t have clean water, they are dying because with some very cheap medicine they could be saved. So I think from an ethical point of view the fight for the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) is really an imperative. But I think also, for those who don’t feel the same urgency, that in terms of the self interest of Europe, it’s important to keep these kinds of relations with developing countries, because we are creating new markets, we are also working for the good of Europe.”

euronews:

“You mention ethics and accountability. Now campaigners are asking you for a tougher transparency directive, more binding measures towards European natural resources and mining companies. So do you agree with that? Are you going to do something? When?”

José Manuel Barroso:

“We have been approached very recently about this and in fact I’ve promised them to look at this very favourably, in a communication we are preparing for the beginning of next year. A communication on overall transparency in our activities. It’s true that we are already supporting, in fact we are financing, the initiative on the extracting industries’ transparency. So we are already working on this. But I personally believe we could and should do more, also with others around the world, to increase the transparency in all the actions of the countries when it comes to action in developing countries. It’s only fair to recognise that the public has the right to know how the companies of the developed world are acting in developing countries. Sometimes people speak about corruption in Africa and other parts of the world. But to have corruption it takes always two. One is corrupted but someone is corrupting them!”

euronews:

“Regarding the economic crisis, what has been the impact on development aid? Is it a real excuse or is it a pretext?”

José Manuel Barroso:

“It is, in fact, a temptation when we have such heavy pressure on national budgets. I’m very proud that despite this difficult economic situation, member states have agreed to reiterate their commitments to go to 0.7% of GNI by 2015; that they have agreed on the fast-track financing to fight climate change in developing countries. Now they have just agreed that I could announce on behalf of the European Union this one billion euros that was not yet allocated. It was already in financial persectives, but not yet decided how to spend it and with which countries. Now it has been agreed. So, I mean, to be very open, there are some doubts but at the same time it’s also fair to recognise that, and globally there has been a commitment on the European Union side.”

euronews:

“What is the latest news on the recession front?”

José Manuel Barroso:

“We are better now than one year ago. Having said this we are not yet out of uncertainty. There are still factors of nervousness in the markets. And that’s why we should have no complacency. I believe we should keep the lines of fiscal consolidation and reforms in Europe. Fiscal consolidation because if there is no confidence of the markets in the efforts of the member states, that will of course very much increase the cost of capital, and the debt will go up. The debt is indeed a very serious problem because money that some member states are paying , on debt interest, is money they cannot spend on social services, on education or health.”

euronews:

“What were really your impressions during the last few days, what conclusions do you draw?”

José Manuel Barroso:

“I think the conclusion is quite clear, we are not yet there, it will be extremely difficult to achieve them but it is still possible if you put in a lot of enthusiasm, if you understand the urgency of the dramatic situation of many parts of the world. So I think it was a useful event and let’s see now if the commitments are followed by action.”