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European year of Development 2015

Posted by Nick Prag at 15 January 2015, 21:55 CET |
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One of the priorities of Latvia in its six-month stint as EU president is to strengthen Europe as a global actor. It is entirely appropriate that 2015 has been designated as the European Year of Development.

This is the first time that a European year has been dedicated to external EU policy. It is no coincidence that 2015 has been chosen. This year is the target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and it is the year in which the ongoing global post-2015 debate is set to converge into a single framework for poverty eradication and sustainable development at this September’s United Nations General Assembly. 2015 is also the year that a new international climate agreement is due to be decided in Paris.

Part of the remit of European Year of Development 2015 is to make people more aware of how the EU development policy works, in its efforts to eradicate poverty in a context of sustainable development. This policy is a cornerstone of EU relations with the outside world - alongside foreign, security and trade policy (and international aspects of other policies like environment, agriculture and fisheries). The EU is the world's leading donor, providing over 50% of all global development aid.

The Year is an opportunity to explain to European citizens how EU development aid works and to demonstrate that it makes a real and lasting difference. There is a packed calendar of events at EU, national, regional and local level, to include art and development projects as well as activities with schools and universities and large-scale sporting events.

The events will show taxpayers how their money is being spent, empowering fellow human beings mired in poverty to make a living for themselves, their families and their communities.

Despite the challenges posed by Europe's economy, signs are that there is public support for continuing to be the leading donor of official development assistance and remaining at the forefront in the fight for the eradication of poverty.

A Eurobarometer survey to mark the beginning of the European Year shows that the number of people in favour of increasing aid has gone up, and that Europeans continue to feel positively about development and cooperation. In fact 67% of respondents think development aid should be increased. 85% believe that it is important to help people in developing countries.

The Year will also show how the old traditional donor-recipient relationship is giving way to a world of cooperation, mutual responsibility and mutual interest.

Indeed, in a world that is more and more connected, development efforts are increasingly understood not only to contribute to a more peaceful and equitable world but also to be in the EU's interest.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.