Global Anti-Poverty Coalition challenges EU heads of state to do more for the world’s poorest

Published: 1 November 2005

Campaigners to meet Commission President Barroso and wrap the European Commisson’s Berlaymont Building in symbolic white band to pressure on aid, trade and debt reforms

Brussels, June 15, 2005: As European heads of state and government are set to meet tomorrow, civil society groups from across Europe have called for Europe to do more to help the world’s poorest. Meeting with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso tomorrow, the Global Call for Action against Poverty in Europe (the association of European campaigns affiliated to the Global Call to Action against Poverty) will be specifically calling on the EU to do more on aid, take immediate steps on debt cancellation and ensure that Europe’s commitment to development is reflected into the next EU budget for 2007-2013.

EU leaders are heading to Brussels tomorrow to negotiate a package on aid, debt and trade that the EU will take as a bloc to the UN Millennium Review Summit in September in New York. The EU’s budget for 2007 to 2013 – the ‘Financial Perspectives’ – is also on tomorrow’s summit agenda, with some member states proposing to cut the aid component and blur distinctions between anti-poverty resources and allocations for security and foreign policy expenditure.

"At this summit, European leaders have an opportunity to strike a chord with millions of citizens and confirm the commitments to increase aid," said Kumi Naidoo from the Global Call to Action against Poverty. ‘When a child dies from poverty-related causes every three seconds, we cannot afford to waste any more time.”

EU Development Ministers recently committed to reaching an average of 0.56% of national wealth for aid by 2010, and 0.7% - the long-promised UN aid target – by 2015. The commitment from the EU puts down the gauntlet to other countries in the G8 such as the US, Canada and Japan to meet the target. Campaigners will call on EU leaders to confirm this commitment and meet the 0.7% target as soon as possible. There are concerns that Italy and Germany may undermine the EU aid pledge as both hesitated in making the commitment, citing domestic budgetary constraints.

To coincide with the summit, the ‘Global Call for Action against Poverty’ (GCAP) has also arranged for a huge white-band to be wrapped around the European Commission’s ‘Berlaymont Building’. The white-band is the symbol of the global campaign. Millions of people across Europe are wearing white-bands as a symbol of their support for action against poverty this year. In over 70 countries around the world an unprecedented coalition of NGOs, trade unions, campaign organisations, faith groups and celebrities have come together in 2005 to campaign with shared messages on more and better aid, trade and debt reform. These groups represent at least 150 million people around the world. Well-known supporters of the campaign include Nelson Mandela, Bono and Claudia Schiffer.

On the same day as the GCAP Europe event, in Africa millions of campaigners from the Global Call to Action against Poverty will be marking the Day of the African Child with the launch of an African ‘snap advert’ and a massive event in Soweto. Children across Africa and Europe will also be sending ‘cut out friends’ to the G8 to symbolise the 100 million children not in school.

René Grotenhuis, GCAP spokesperson: “Let’s not waste this chance. Europe has this unique opportunity at this Summit to take bold action in the fight against poverty. What the civil society is calling for is the reflection of what 9/10 EU citizen supports: helping poor countries is important. It’s a simple message that EU leaders must put at the centre of their agenda tomorrow.”

Contact Information

For further information, please contact:
Louis Belanger; Oxfam International: 32 473 562 260
Joanna Maycock; ActionAid International: 32 478 560 944
Ian Derry; Solidar: 32 485 136 175