November 8, 2002

EU/SADC Ministerial and NGO conferences in Maputo

While not reaching agreement on Zimbabwe, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union (EU) on Thursday, November 7, signed in Maputo a "Regional Indicative Programme", under which the EU will provide 101 million euros (about 101 million US dollars) to support development and poverty reduction programmes in SADC members.

The programme was signed by SADC Executive Secretary Prega Ramsamy, and by European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Poul Nielsen, who are attending the current SADC/EU ministerial meeting. According to Nielsen, the five year programme is built on SADC's own priorities, and "its overall objective is to reduce poverty in the SADC region through increased regional integration while respecting our common principles of good governance and respect for human rights". The resources involved come from the Ninth European Development, set up under the Cotonou Agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. Between 35 and 45 million euros are to be spent on regional integration and trade. Nielsen said this should help implement the SADC trade protocol under which a SADC free trade area should come into existence by 2008. "It will also help you to successfully negotiate Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU, which is a pivotal step for full integration into the global trading system", he added. A further 35 to 45 million euros are destined to transport and communication programmes. This money is to be ploughed into "the better utilisation of existing infrastructure and services and on improving legislation so as to facilitate the inter- regional transport of goods", said Nielsen.

The remaining funds, of up to 20 million euros, are to be spent in areas such as the fight against the killer disease AIDS, conflict prevention and the struggle against drug trafficking. These funds are quite separate from the EU's response to the current humanitarian crisis arising from severe food shortages in much of the SADC region.

Parallel to the Ministerial Conference, a meeting of non-governmental organisations from EU and SADC countries took place as well following similar conferences in Botswana (2000) and Vienna (1998). A Statement (http://www.sydafrika.dk/ —> EU SADC NGO meeting) to the Ministerial Conference adopted unanimously by the NGOs which critically speaks out against International Financial Institutions and neoloberal policies, including NEPAD, implemendes by SADC governments was handed over to the Chair of the Conference, the Danish Minister for European Affairs, Bertel Haarder, and subsequently distributed to all participating ministers. (AIM, South Africa Contact Denmark)

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