Written by Marta Latek
In this time of economic crisis, when Europeans are increasingly tempted to focus on overcoming their own problems, the EU invites us to look to the developing world, keeping the EP’s motto ‘Our world, our future, our dignity’ in mind.
2015 EYD – how it all started
Since 1983, the EU designates one topic to be the focus for the year with the aim of raising awareness and sending a strong signal as to its political significance. In many cases this precedes new European action or legislation in the field. In contrast to a previous focus on internal issues, the 2015 event will be the first ever to concern an EU ‘external action’.
The idea of a dedicated year on development issues began in 2010/2011 and it has gradually received widespread inter-institutional support.
Key contribution of the European Parliament
The EP played a leading role in making the EYD happen. The report of 23 October 2012 on ‘Agenda for change’ contained a specific recommendation to designate 2015 as European Year for Development. On 2 April 2014 Parliament adopted a legislative resolution on the subject. MEPs stress that focus on the issue of global interdependence illustrates that development is more than mere assistance, and fosters direct involvement in favour of development. Marius Wanders, CONCORD Board member shares this view: ‘The European Year for Development should not only be about aid – what Europe gives – but also about the consumption choices that we make as citizens that affect global development’.
EYD 2015 – what to expect
The EYD agenda includes awards, school competitions, advertising campaigns, debates, and sporting events, to take place at EU level and in Member States. Participants are expected from across the globe, many coming from developing countries.
EYD’s international context
2015 is a pivotal year for development cooperation with the final countdown to the achievement of UN Millennium Development Goals, and agreement on post-2015 common objectives expected in September 2015 at the Special Summit on Sustainable Development. Other decisive events due in 2015 include the Third International Financing for Development Conference in July 2015 and the Climate COP21 in December in Paris.
Any commitments made, in the continuing climate of economic crisis, will require strong public support – and EYD can help to forge this.
At operational level, chronic humanitarian crises such as the situation in the Middle East, the rise of ISIS and African countries hit by conflict and disease, make international solidarity for the short and longer term a must in a globalized and shaken world.
EYD – Challenges for the EU
At European level, although still the key provider of Official Development Assistance (ODA), the EU faces credibility issues caused by aid fragmentation, weak coherence between different EU policies and an engagement/payment gap affecting EU budget implementation. NGO European movement stresses that EYD2015, whilst drawing attention to the EU’s role in global development, also creates an opportunity for the EU to act as a truly united force on the global scene.
EYD may therefore offer a better political momentum to address some of the issues: improving coordination between the EU and Member States via a mandatory mechanism proposed by the EP, enhancing Policy Coherence for Development, establishing an arbitration system whereby the President of the Commission would have to take political responsibility in case of divergence between different EU policies, finding innovative solutions to close the payment/engagement gap and further sources of finance for development.
How can you get involved?
- Join the European Year for Development group on Capacity4Dev http://capacity4dev.ec.europa.eu/eyd2015/ to share your ideas and get the latest news
- Use #EYD2015 on social media and take part in the conversation
- Plan and visit events in Brussels and the Member States.
- And if you’re ready and able, there are many projects active in developing countries to which you can contribute financially or in kind (sponsoring a child, financing an individual project via a micro-loan platform, or make your consumption choices in a responsible way, such as choosing certified fair trade items.