Under the Polish Presidency, an informal meeting of EU ministers in charge of development took place in Sopot on 14th-15th July.
On behalf of EU High Commissioner for Foreign Policy and Security Catherine Ashton, the meeting was chaired by Krzysztof Stanowski, Under-Secretary of State for Development Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Also taking part was the Commissioner in charge of Development Andris Piebalgs.
The ministers discussed the shape of financial instruments of the EU’s external policy after 2013, development policy towards Central Asia and the Pacific, joint programming and preparations to the Fourth High Level Forum on Effective Assistance in Pusan (29th Novmeber -1st December).
Pierre Morel, Special EU Representative for Central Asia, as well as Bert Keonders and Talaat Abdel Malej, co-chairmen of the OECD Working Group on effective assistance, were invited to the thematic sessions. A special guest to the working dinner devoted to the significance of democracy and development was Sierra Leone Health Minister of Sierra Leone Zainab Hawa Bangura.
The first session was devoted to the future architecture of financial instruments. The starting point of the discussion was the proposed EU budget for 20142-2020, submitted by the EC on 29th June this year. The Commissioned proposed increasing resources for external activities from €57 million to €750 billion in 2014-2020.
The discussion at the second thematic sessions centred on development strategies for Central Asia and the Pacific. A diversified approach to Central Asian partner countries was considered with the necessity of concentrating on Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the countries with the region’s highest poverty level. The meeting also afforded an occasion to exchange views on future cooperation in the Pacific region, especially as regards EU commitments on counteracting the results of climate change.
During the working dinner, the ministers discussed the role of democracy in development. That subject is especially timely in view of events in the EU’s Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood. The participants shared the view that without democracy, whose key element is civil society, sustainable growth, stability and security in partner countries cannot be achieved.
The second day of deliberations began with a discussion on joint programming, one of the potentially most important mechanisms serving to increase effective development assistance.
The meeting ended with a session devoted to the Fourth High Level Forum on Effective Assistance. The Fourth Forum in Pusan will be the most important event in the field of development during the Polish Presidency. The purpose of the meeting of ministers in Sopot was to continue the discussion on the shape of the common EU position at that Forum.