Denmark assumes EU presidency – what’s in it for the world’s poor?

Today, Denmark marked the start of their 6 month EU Presidency by presenting its proposed work programme in Copenhagen. Holding the Presidency means Denmark will be a key player during a difficult economic period in Europe when decisions will be taken on crucial development issues including the EU Budget and transparency in the oil, mining and gas industries.

The Budget won’t be finalised until the end of 2012 but the Danes aim to advance the negotiations as far as possible by the end of their Presidency in June. ONE will be working with Danish NGOs and across Europe to ensure the Commission’€57bn budget proposal for development cooperation in poor countries isn’t cut by EU Member States.

On transparency, Denmark is keen to get EU legislation passed by June obliging oil, mining and gas companies to publish all payments they make to governments in countries where they operate. If the EU gets the detail of these proposals right it should enable civil society in developing countries to hold their governments accountable and fight corruption.

Denmark has also prioritised agricultural and fisheries policy in its Presidency, working to reduce agricultural subsidies in the EU in a way that benefits access to markets for developing countries. Denmark also aims to ensure the reform of EU fisheries policy in order to guarantee that the world’s fish resources are used sustainably for the benefit of the communities that depend on fishing.

On EU trade policy Denmark wants to ensure closer political dialogue with partner developing countries through commercial relations and reciprocal market access, and wants to ensure that these trade relations are sustainable and contribute to poverty reduction.

Since the Lisbon Treaty was signed all EU policies have to be consistent and coherent with its development policy. Denmark has promised to work towards creating a better coherence between EU policies in all the areas that affect developing countries. In terms of development policy itself, they admit that linking humanitarian aid and long-term development aid will be a major task, and commit to focusing on getting results and being transparent.

Finally, the Danish government will lead the EU in the fight for the establishment of a global tax on financial transactions. Such a tax could be used to finance development cooperation and help developing countries to combat climate change.

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