Statement of President Barroso at the High-Level Meeting on the MDG

EU During the High-Level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission, made  the following statement on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):


Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Millennium brought with it a great vision and a great goal: to reduce poverty by half by 2015. Never before has mankind set itself such a daunting task – nor such a meaningful one.

Extreme poverty is the most challenging global issue. It mocks our technical progress when men, women and children are still starving, continue to be vulnerable to HIV-infection, are forced to subsist in degraded environments, or are unable to exercise the most basic of their human rights.

It needn’t be like this! We must strengthen our collective resolve to confront the social and gender inequalities that lock all too many people into poverty.

If developing countries stand by their priorities, and developed countries stand by their commitments, the Millennium Development Goals will become Millennium Development Achievements.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The European Union has kept the fight against poverty high on its agenda. European citizens themselves demand this. As the world’s leading donor, accounting for more than 50% of all development aid, the European Union has contributed to the achievement of the MDGs from the beginning.

Much has been achieved so far. The European Commission alone has helped put 9 million more girls and boys in schools since 2004. We have connected 31 million households to clean drinking water.

However, much remains to be done. There is no place for complacency. We must increase our efforts to reach our common objectives over the next 5 years.

In June this year Europe’s leaders agreed an ambitious plan that takes things up a gear. It prioritises action on those goals where we have made least progress, and in those regions and countries that are most lagging behind including those experiencing conflict, crises and fragility of governance.

The plan also confirms our commitment to meet the 0.7% GNI target by 2015 and to assess progress on this every year. My hope is that this will encourage other donors, including emerging partners, to step up their own level of ambition.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The EU stands with countries in difficulty. We are a reliable partner even in times of economic downturn: during the food crisis we provided €1.5 billion in additional support through a Food Facility and a Flexibility Instrument reaching 50 countries and benefiting 50 million people.

Today, I come to you to reaffirm Europe’s commitment to this challenge. I would like to announce that the EU is ready to offer to the most committed and needy countries an MDG initiative amounting to €1 billion to make progress on those goals we are furthest from achieving.

We have to produce more effective results because time is running out.

Aid is a catalyst, not a cure. No country has ever been transformed by aid alone. That is why it is also important that our partners take charge of their own development.

This means mobilising domestic policies and resources to support the MDGs. It also means being fully accountable for development results, for the management of aid as well as domestic budgets, and being totally transparent.

We share the responsibility for ensuring success. Just as donors should be held accountable, partner countries should also be accountable for the results they achieve. We owe this to all our fellow human beings fighting to survive on a dollar a day.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We must all act now and in solidarity to make the MDGs a reality by 2015. But halving poverty will only solve half the problem. If we can achieve our goals, an even greater prize will be within our grasp: the ultimate eradication of all poverty in its various manifestations. And that is something worth fighting for.

Thank you.”

Further debate on the MDG Summit:

  • Read or listen to an interview Kofi Annan gave to the BBC entitled “Kofi Annan on broken promises and social unrest in the context of the meeting in New York.
  • Take a look at an account of the MDGs entitled “Why the MDGs need critical friends” by the ODI blog of Alison Evans here.

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