HC Deb 20 November 2000 vol 357 cc2-3W
Mr. Hood

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what was the outcome of the Development Council held in Brussels on 10 November; and if he will make a statement. [138452]

Clare Short

The main achievement was the adoption by the Council and the Commission of a Declaration on the European Community's Development Policy. This was a milestone for the EC. The Declaration provides the EC, for the first time, with a clear operational framework for all EC development assistance, with poverty reduction as the principal objective. This was an important UK objective in our published strategy for working with the EC. The Development Commissioner, Poul Nielson, also presented a comprehensive Action Programme for implementing the Declaration. He emphasised the multi-dimensional nature of poverty, the need to work within a country's own poverty reduction strategies, the importance of focusing EC development assistance on fewer areas and the need for further progress in ensuring that other EC policies such as fisheries, trade and agriculture do not undermine our development efforts.

I strongly welcomed the Declaration and the Commission's plans for implementing the new policy. It remains essential to turn the operational framework into reality on the ground. My Department will be reviewing how we can help ensure that this is achieved.

The Council also adopted an important new framework for preparation of EC Country Strategy Papers. This clarifies the need to collaborate closely with other donors and to focus on poverty reduction strategies developed by the partner country.

The Council briefly reviewed the actions that have been taken to follow up the overall evaluation of EC programmes which had been discussed in May 1999. These included the adoption of an overall statement of EC development policy.

The Council adopted a Resolution on Communicable Diseases which welcomed a recent Commission Communication and called for an Action Programme to implement it. The Council agreed on the need for a coherent approach to tackling these diseases which threaten poor people and hinder efforts to reduce poverty. Conclusions on the 6th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change were also adopted.

During the pre-Council dinner there was an informal exchange of views on Liberia, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe.