EU development policy can be a game changer

, par Luisa Stauder, Translated by Joanna Magill

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EU development policy can be a game changer
Sous-titres photo : the editor of Treffpunkteuropa Luisa Stauder (first on the left) along with other ambassadors from ONE in front of the German parliament. Photo : Marco Urban available via ONE.

About 7 years ago, one of the most important peace prizes, the Nobel prize, was awarded to the European Union. The EU was chosen because it had evidently achieved the impossible : maintaining and promoting peace on a continent marked by innumerable wars. In the next 7 years, it will again be able once again to help peace reign in Europe and the rest of the world. To achieve this, the multiannual financial framework seems to be a good place to start.

The EU institutions are currently negotiating the multiannual financial framework (MFF), which sets out the approximate distribution of the EU’s budget for the next seven years. It therefore reflects the political priorities for the period of 2021-2027. At the end of which there will only be three years before the world reviews whether the UN’s sustainable development goals have been met or not. The negotiations carried out as part of the MFF should therefore show how seriously the EU, Nobel peace prize winner, takes the fight against extreme poverty, famine and preventable diseases, as well as climate justice and gender equality.

Brussels is taking its time

It is a well-known fact that speed is not the EU’s strong point. The budget negotiations have been going on for a while. This involves a difficult process where each party’s interests and concerns must be weighed up, those of both EU institutions and EU member states. The final decision, which determines the scope and distribution of the budget, is constantly being postponed. During such a fragmented process, the negotiators can easily forget to consider the bigger picture. However the world in which we will live in the future will be the result of these negotiations.

The European Union —and its member states— is the largest distributor of global development funds. This makes it an indispensable force in the fight against extreme poverty. Though the UN has set ambitious sustainable development goals, that doesn’t mean they are unachievable. To do so, we need a European Union in the best possible shape that has a clear vision and the necessary resources.

A true partnership between the EU and Africa

It is not just the moral duty of the Nobel peace prize winner, it’s also in our own interest ; Europe is growing older. The workforce is growing smaller and smaller. At the same time, the African population will double and reach 2.5 billion by the year 2025, the majority of which will be under 25, meaning that Africa will be the youngest continent in the world. On one hand, Europe needs well-trained people to help remedy the lack of skilled labour in the EU. On the other, Europe could make a significant contribution to an economic miracle in Africa.

In order to do this, Europe has to consistently invest in the young people of Africa. The 3 ‘E’s are of the utmost importance : Education, Employment and Engagement with society. If the young people of Africa are able to see the opportunities that they deserve, they will be able to become a driving force for the African economy and the fight against extreme poverty. Europe would therefore have a sizable commercial partnership waiting for them. This is exactly what you’d call a true partnership.

Nevertheless, these aspects must be viewed solely as an incentive and not as Europe’s main aim. Individual human lives should still be the focus. Investments must be made on several levels in order to make the vision of a world without poverty a reality.

Thinking big

In order to make this vision a reality, from now on we need an EU that isn’t content with merely doing whatever it wants, but that thinks and acts in the long term and looks outside of its own borders. We need a European Union that’s aware of its global responsibility and that sees its Nobel prize as a duty to continue working towards peace. As we all know, good development policies and good teamwork make the best peace policies.

The EU can therefore make an important contribution to making the world a more peaceful and just place between now, 2030, and beyond. The place in which we live should no longer determine our right to life : a world where all have the same opportunities seems utopian and impossible. However, who other than the EU would be better equipped to make the impossible a reality ? ‘Thinking European’ is a synonym for thinking on a grand scale. We are not content with the minimum.

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