Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-10-24-Speech-3-348"

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". Madam President, in spite of stated intentions we cannot really say that any new elements have been introduced to the debates that have been taking place in recent months on the partnership between the European Union and Africa. Of course peace and the rule of law must be absolute priorities; the EU is now playing an increasing role in this respect and this is only to be welcomed. We also have to ensure that the support provided for the organisation of elections, for example, is subjected to real care and scrutiny so that the communities concerned see the practical benefits that democracy can bring to their everyday lives. As far as the other measures are concerned I would say that all in all the European Union’s proposals are fairly typical, lying somewhere between promoting good governance and free trade, with the accent on economic development and the provision of health care. However, while there are burning issues to be dealt with, these EU-Africa strategies, in our opinion, fail to deal with two key problems. Firstly there is food security, which has to be seen in the context of rising prices for basic foodstuffs, especially cereals, and the upsurge in biofuels, along with the need to protect and develop agriculture, although the next European Development Fund – like most of the governments in Africa – has only allocated a small percentage of its budget to this objective. Even the World Bank recently stressed that a rethink was needed in this area, and that is saying something. The question of food provision has now become absolutely crucial, as has the future of small farmers who are all too often neglected by development aid policies. The second key aspect is that Africa, as you know, is an immense reservoir of natural resources that the African people, unfortunately, are unable to profit from, even though the price of these commodities has risen enormously. All the major economic powers, along with emerging nations like China, are rushing to get their hands on these resources which are becoming increasingly rare. This latter-day gold rush, this hunger for materials, is now having extremely brutal social and environmental repercussions and is continuing to fuel wars and corruption. In the light of all this the European Union is talking in theoretical, even angelic tones, while all the time it too is engaged in exploiting Africa’s natural resources. How then do we rationalise, manage and share access to these reserves in such a way that the communities concerned really derive benefit from them without seeing their environment vandalised? This is a major question and one that the EU-Africa strategy needs to take more seriously, for it will be imposed on us in any case, given the speed of events in this sector."@en1

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