from Europe Issue 1/2003
FAMINE IN ETHIOPIA
was recently invited by the Ethiopian Government to lead a team of MEPs to
visit their country and assess their management of the famine.
suffered tragically from the famine in 1984. A similar humanitarian crisis
is now looming as the country faces a severe and widespread drought that
continues to desertify the rift valley region on the eastern side of the
11.3 million people (18 per cent of the population) are at risk from
starvation unless around 1.4 million metric tons of food assistance is made
urgently available. The cost of this food assistance for 2003 is US$300m –
a mere $2.5 per needy person a month!
talked to several villagers and asked if they could identify their single
most important need. Each time they said: “Water”. When asked about
their second most important need, they said: “Seed”. These villagers
walk 7 miles each way to fetch water and the little they can carry is used
exclusively for drinking, cooking and for their animals. There is no surplus
for washing or sanitation. I did not have the courage to ask them if they
cared for democracy, human rights or the environment.
appeal for food assistance is desperate and the EU must act without delay.
However, food assistance on its own is not enough to help Ethiopia to be
self-reliant. There is a need to assist in programmes for extending the
rural infra-structure – only 4 per cent of the country is accessible by
paved roads. We need to build shallow wells, bore holes, reservoirs and dams
water conservation as rainfall is so erratic and unpredictable. The national
health budget allocates $1.5 per person per annum – not enough to buy a
treatment dose of most antibiotics! The HIV/AIDS pandemic spreads fastest in
conditions of social instability, conflict, poverty and powerlessness.
cattle population of almost 28 million require veterinary medicines to
prevent widespread disease and death. Education is inaccessible to children
in rural areas and this seriously affects the country’s capacity to build
a pool of skills that will help to achieve national self-reliance.
is time for the EU to examine its policies on aid for each country. It must
determine the best way to use funds and technical expertise to exploit
natural resources, including human resources, to maximise benefit for the
rural populations. Each percentage growth in agriculture can finance a 2%
growth in industrial production. In this way there would be, over time, a
shift from agriculture to agro-industry and other industries. Help to
achieve food sufficiency and self-reliance must be the primary aims of all
direct response to my report, the Commission has allocated another €5m for
emergency food aid operations in Ethiopia. This will secure 25,000 metric
tons of food for the starving population.
MUST HELP MAMA & PAPA BUSINESSES
was invited by the Greek government and the European Commission to address a
workshop in Athens on Small & Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs).
My family has run a small business for over a century where I worked for 30 years before entering politics. With this experience as an industrialist and businessman, it is not surprising that I am keen to promote and defend the interests of SMEs, both in my Eastern Region of the UK and in the European Parliament.
SMEs drive economic growth. They train people with
poor skills; they identify local needs and respond by producing suitable
products and they create employment, wealth and security for the local
The Lisbon European Council set the strategic goal of making the EU "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010". Whilst there has been some progress, we still have a very long way to go.
The hindrances, difficulties and bottlenecks facing
SMEs in the EU and the lag in growth rates with the USA can be explained
by excessive red tape, high direct and indirect taxation, expensive and
inadequate access to loans and grants, insufficient allowance for
increasing workforce skills and the lack of sponsored apprenticeships.
In Europe, many “Papas and Mamas” in their 50s
and 60s own and manage their businesses traditionally. They are reluctant
to invest in new technology because they suspect that the investment will
not offer sufficient advantage. They do not understand the scope and
function of new technology in increasing productivity and expanding sales
and they have a fear of security of supply, quality, payment and legal
European Parliament Report on “Impact of Information Communication
Technology on SMEs” analyses the problems facing SMEs and offers a
programme of action to stimulate them so that they can compete globally
and help realise the EU dream to be the most dynamic and competitive
economy in the world.
Avoid excessive regulation of the e-Economy in
Europe and apply the 'think small first' approach when formulating
Reduce the legislative and administrative burdens
on businesses by simplify data collection, especially for tax collection.
Cut red tape, especially for self-employed.
on measures already implemented to tackle online security issues by
reinforcing the dependability and reliability of networks used by
Establish easy access to legal advice and certainty
in cross border trade to ensure a European e-Economy.
Encourage “benchmarking” to promote and
establish best practice to integrate SMEs in the e-Economy.
Encourage Member states to offer low interest loans
and tax incentives to support SMEs.
Establish close co-operation between businesses,
the educational sector and government agencies in order to close the IT
Encourage EU citizens, especially the unemployed
and the elderly, to acquire IT skills for employment to minimise import of
Reduce the security threat to businesses to
encourage SMEs to establish online business.
Establish a clear and predictable legal framework
for operating in the e-Economy throughout the EU, including access to
legal advice on the applicable laws and codes of conduct.
Offer technical support companies financial and tax
incentives to establish a network of services.
hope we will soon have every EU citizen wearing a watch that is a
combination of a PC, mobile phone and a LCD screen that will enable us to
communicate audio-visually, process data, buy, sell and pay by voice mail,
watch any sport and listen to our favourite music. Technology can offer us
this today - let us use it to enrich our lives by producing more with ease
so that we have less stress and more time for leisure!
Reform of the EU is scheduled for 2004 and we want you to express your views on how the future of European Institutions should evolve.
Take part in the discussion by joining the debate at www.europa.eu.int/futurum.
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Promoted & Printed by Conservative MEPs in the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament, Brussels: Khanbhai, Sturdy, Beazley & Van Orden