Tag Archives: developing countries

The Ghost of Hatred is Roaming in Europe

Yesterday a terrible crime was committed in Norway, leaving more than 90 people dead. A lone terrorist was able firs to explode a bomb in the centre of Oslo and then to shoot at least 80 people, many of whom were teenagers. We know very little about his motivation, but it appears that he held far-right, and anti-Muslim views. So let’s say it bluntly: the ghost of racial and religious hatred is roaming in Europe. We have to stop it.

I have watched with indignation the rise of far-right parties in the EU – from Netherlands to France and from Bulgaria to Italy. Everywhere across Europe the narrative of cheap nationalism and populism, the language of hatred and discrimination has become fashionable. Even mainstream politicians have flirted with it. This has to stop.

Europe has suffered too often from its stereotypes of hatred. After all, we nearly exterminated a whole ethnos just 70 years ago. I refuse to look the other way when the same old disease is surfacing. And I cannot overlook the role of media in this. Yesterday, while it was still unclear who was responsible for the events in Oslo, an English newspaper put this headline on its first page, claiming that the bombing was orchestrated by Al Qaeda. This was happening while various counterterrorism experts on Twitter were explaining that it was quite unlikely that Al Qaeda was involved. This was not an innocent mistake. We live in a time when many people in the media business do enjoy flirting with far-right agendas, because they know that hatred sells. Mr. Murdoch’s publications are not the only ones involved. We have to stop this.

It is quite obvious that the European countries do have a problem with the integration of immigrants. A lot can be done here. First, we need to address border security. Second, we need to foster integration of immigrants, without resorting to defeatist language, while taking into account the security concerns of our citizens. Third, we need to redesign development programs for developing countries. Fourth, we need to help designing programs for adaptation to climate change in developing countries. Fifth, we need to persecute crimes motivated by religious hatred and crime.

This agenda is much more important than any other agenda of the European Union. It needs leadership and determination. The alternative is grim. The ghost of hatred is still a ghost. We have to stop it.

UPDATE: Please look at the faces of the victims from the Utoya shooting.

 

Proposal for Reforming EU Trade Preferences

The Commission has put forward an important proposal for the reformation of the so-called Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) which grants specific tariff preferences to developing countries in the form of reduced or zero tariff rates or quotas.

Key elements of the proposal include:

1. Concentrating GSP preferences on fewer countries. A number of countries would no longer be eligible to benefit, including:

  • Countries which have achieved a high or upper middle income per capita, according to the internationally accepted World Bank classification (such as Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar).
  • Countries that have preferential access to the EU which is at least as good as under GSP – for example, under a Free Trade Agreement or a special autonomous trade regime.
  • A number of overseas countries and territories which have an alternative market access arrangement for developed markets.

2. Reinforcing the incentives for the respect of core human and labour rights, environmental and good governance standards through trade by facilitating access to the GSP+ scheme which grants additional, mostly duty-free preference to vulnerable countries.

3. Strengthen the effectiveness of the trade concessions for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) through the “Everything but Arms” (EBA) scheme.

4. Increasing predictability, transparency and stability.

EU Climate Funding Blocked Ahead of Copenhagen

EU finance ministers failed to agree on funding climate mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. Poland and other Eastern European countries have apparently voiced concerns that they would end up paying more than they can afford. The issue was deferred to the European Council summit in the end of October.

This outcome is not exactly surprising for me.

This is a cross-post to Th!nk About It 2- Climate Change.

Financing for Developing Countries: the Gordian Knot of Climate Change Negotiations?

This is not exactly news – European Union Member States disagree over the financing for developing countries as part of the overall climate change strategy. There is disagreement on everything – the scale of financing, the start of financing assistance, etc.

But wait – it appears that there is not a single official document issued by the EU with reliable and verifiable information on the total level of financial support to developing countries for climate change mitigation and adaptation purposes provided by the Union and its Member States to-date.

Not that the EU has not done anything – we’ve probably done more than anyone else. However, it is very difficult to expect any progress in the negotiations in Copenhagen when the Union itself does not have a common approach to climate change financing for the developing countries.

It is clear – we need to support adaptation and mitigation in the developing countries. One of the most important issues is to provide funding for new, more expensive, climate-friendly technologies. Another equally important element is financing adaptation measures that are synchronized with development strategies and take into account climate change impacts for the World’s poorest.

It never hurts to remind that climate change demands action that is both global and collective. Let us not build alliances that simply do not work.

This post is part of the Blog Action Day campaign.

Climate Change Aid Plans Not Sufficient?

Financial Times reports that the European Union is to offer €15 billion a year to help poor countries cope with the effects of climate change.

According to FT this offer falls short of what developing countries have said is needed. Additionally, the proposal reportedly contains language suggesting that the EU could use development aid promised for poor countries as part of its climate-change contribution. This idea is contested by NGOs that use development aid.

The question of aid needed by developing countries to engage in reducing their emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change is one of the four political essentials for Copenhagen formulated by Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

G-8 Consensus on Climate Change

It sounds a bit too good to be true. However, the G-8 summit has obviously agreed on targets for climate change mitigation.

The targets are:

  • two degrees Celsius target for global mean temperature increase;
  • global emissions must be halved by 2050;
  • developed countries will set an example by reducing their emissions by 80 per cent or more.

One of the problems is that developing countries rejected an agreement to commit to specific goals for greenhouse gases emissions reduction. Another problem appears to be the reluctance of the US administration to commit to short term (up to 2020) commitments as proposed by the European Union.

I still believe that every journey begins with a single step.