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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A shaky end for the German Presidency

Let's look back on the events of the past month and take stock of the last six months of Germany's Council Presidency and the presidency project of Germany’s national platform, VENRO, which focused mainly on "Prospects for Africa – Europe's Policies".

Given the rapidly changing economic, political and social processes taking place in Africa and Europe, close cooperation between Southern and Northern NGOs is more urgent and necessary than ever. European NGOs and their African partners therefore discussed the role of NGOs in the European Development Policy. In their Development Policy Manifesto, African and German civil society organisations resist all attempts to commercialise private efforts on sustainable development and refuse to be seen as implementers of preconceived EU policies without a full right of initiative.

In June – as relations between Africa and the European Union were at the heart of the Presidency's activities, with the 13th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly taking place in Wiesbaden from 23 to 28 June – VENRO presented its presidency project, entitled "Prospects for Africa – Europe's Policies", with an information stand. Together with the informal Alliance EPA07 it organised a breakfast meeting with parliamentarians from Africa and Europe to discuss the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). On the EU-Africa Strategy, which is to be adopted at the planned EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon in December 2007, VENRO met with the
Member of European Parliament, Maria Martens, who will report on this strategy in the EU.

But June was also the month of the G8 meeting. On this occasion, international civil society organisations gathered in Germany under the banner of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) to remind the leaders of the world's eight richest nations to meet their promises to eradicate poverty. NGOs held a civil society demonstration and an alternative summit in Rostock. This week of protest against the G8 summit included mobilisation, demonstrations and blockades as well as debates and seminars.

In particular, German NGOs launched a campaign against unfair international trade policies and urged the German Chancellor and the G8 to reorient world trade policy so that it contributes to global justice and respect for social and economic human rights. It wants policies that put environmental protection, human rights and overcoming poverty before economic interests and ahead of one-sided liberalisation. In parallel, a number of GCAP West Africa NGOs attended the People's Forum in Sikasso to raise awareness of the demands the GCAP was putting to the G8, and held a press conference.

The biggest global climate petition in history was also handed to Ms Merkel, German's top negotiator at the G8+5 summit. Germany chaired the talks, and used the petition to show the strength of global opinion on this issue.

For further information: a two-page summary of the main VENRO activities: http://www.trialog.or.at/docs/venro_presidency.pdf.
Also visit the GCAP website: www.whiteband.org

Source: CONCORD Flash - June 2007.

See also Euforic dossier on the EU Presidency

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