Monterrey Apr02

Debt burden of poor countries

Khanbhai (PPE-DE). - Madam President, I was one of the five Members of Parliament who went to Monterrey and I want to put it on record that what Mr. Nielson did before the Monterrey Conference was extremely good. He persuaded the 15 Member States of the European Union to make a commitment that by 2006 their contribution for development finance will be 0.33% of GDP. Many Member States are currently contributing much less than this. This achievement embarrassed the United States, because it realised that its contribution is very small indeed.

The European Union gives USD 25 billion: it is the largest donor in the world. The United States gives USD 10 billion. This is a very small sum when you think that the United States has given its military establishment USD 100 billion since September last year, and that is why President Bush promised a further USD 5 billion in development finance by 2006. That would bring the US contribution up to USD 15 billion, which is still very low indeed when you think that people like Bill Gates give USD 1 billion as personal donations.

Because Mr Fischler is here, I would like to say that EU agricultural subsidies are killing the poor farmers in the Third World. He knows this and I know he is in favour of persuading Member States to do something about the food mountains that we create. This was widely discussed in Monterrey with the International Fund for Agricultural Development. I and my colleagues met with the President of IFAD. It was made very clear that unless we invest this development finance in the rural economies of poor countries and boost their agricultural production, we will have a breeding ground for deprivation, terrorism and internal conflicts. This is because these are the people, the majority of them living in rural areas, who are too poor to grow their own food and too poor to buy the EU's surplus food.

I would like to make one other point about HIV, AIDS, TB and malaria. The Monterrey conference did not discuss these issues at great length, and did not commit itself to allocating funding to them in a special category.