Monday, April 27, 2009

EVS promotes 'Fair Politics'

On 25 April, the Evert Vermeer Stichting (EVS) celebrated its annual Africa day in The Hague with over 50 events staged by a wide variety of Dutch development organizations and their partners. Among the prominent guests was Paul Rusesabagina, who saved the lives of many people during the civil war in Rwanda.

In a workshop organized by NIMB (Netherlands Institute for MultiParty Democracy) Ministers Welshman Ncube and Elton Mangoma of the MDC talked about the recent developments and the renewal of the democratic process in Zimbabwe.

Max van den Berg, former member of the European Parliament and chairman of EVS launched the 'Fair Politics' concept. Fair policies intend not to frustrate the development of poor countries but provide opportunities to achieve development goals. Fair Politics is about fostering policy coherence, emphasizing the unfairness of incoherence. According to Van den Berg “In Europe we cannot live and prosper in splendid isolation. Yes, we should be proud of our success, but we also have the responsibility to make sure our success is not achieved at the cost of others”.

Part of the Fair Politics program is an analysis of the programs of Dutch political parties for the upcoming European Parliament elections to see if they include (un)fair policy propositions. This analysis looks at trade, agriculture, fisheries, pharmaceutical products, arms trade, migration, illegal forest products, bio-fuels, fossil fuels, human rights, and at policies to address the economic and financial crisis. Some Dutch political parties explicitly aim for fair policies in general, others include fair policy objectives for specific issues. Trade policies of the Liberal/Conservative party (VVD) do not excel in terms of fairness, nor do the agricultural policy objectives of the Christian Democrats (CDA). Liberal/Democrats (D66) are considered to be quite unfair in their migration policies and the Social/Democrats (PvdA) and Socialists (SP) have a fairness problem regarding their policies addressing the economic crisis. Details can be found at

A debate featuring candidates for the European Parliament was broadcasted from the site of the EVS event. All Euro-parliamentarians agreed that Europe was potentially a strong global actor in terms of foreign policy and security issues, provided member states agreed on a common position. While Hans van Baalen (VVD/Liberal Democrats) and Wim van der Camp (CDA/Christian Democrats) seemed quite positive about past achievements in this respect (Georgia and Ukraine were mentioned as examples), Thijs Berman (PvdA/Social Democrats) and Sophie in ‘t Veld (D66/Liberal Democrats) felt too often that a common position was lacking, for instance on important issues such as the Middle East.

Policy coherence was touched upon indirectly by the candidate EP-members. “Do not touch the budget”, was a clear message on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from Van der Camp, while Berman emphasized the need for a CAP that includes social, food security and environmental considerations.

See also Euforic's newsfeeds on policy coherence and the Evert Vermeer Foundation