Five MEPs revealed the ambitious goals the European Parliament (EP) has set out to achieve in its post-2015 development agenda at a media seminar on the EU and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which was held in Brussels on Tuesday.
The seminar preceded the European Development Days taking place on Wednesday and Thursday, which are the flagship event of this year’s European Year of Development.
Since 1983, the EU has designated one topic as a focus for each year and 2015 has been declared the European Year of Development, which constitutes the first time that the EU devotes to its external dimension.
The seminar was attended by MEPs from the EP's Development Committee, including its chair Linda McAvan (S&D) and members Charles Goerens (ALDE), Pedro Pereira (S&D), Davor Stier (EPP) and Elly Schlein (S&D).
The MEPs discussed the progress achieved in fulfilling the MDGs, their forthcoming replacement with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and suggested recommendations for their improved implementation.
The SDGs contain 17 general goals with 169 proposed targets and will succeed the eight MDGs, which were declared in 2000 and expire this year.
Universality, shared ownership and accountability between recipients and donors are among the founding principles of the SDGs.
With the new principle of universality, SDGs will be applicable to both developing and developed countries with the latter providing expertise, experience and financing to the former.
This is expected to make the developed countries more committed to the process as under the MDGs, the donors largely limited their involvement to providing financial aid.
The MEPs stated that it was important to realise that the problems addressed by SDGs are universal and concern both developing and developed countries.
The SDGs aim to achieve greater policy coherence and reconcile the needs of donors and recipients as well as increase awareness among the public.
The five MEPs called on EU member states to stick to their commitment to donate 0.7 % of their Gross National Product (GNP) to Official Development Assistance (ODA).
Although the EU is the largest donor of ODA internationally, some member states including its leading economy – Germany, have not fulfilled their commitments, which is due both to the lack of political will and budgetary constraints.
The implementation of this and other commitments could be better achieved through the introduction of a timetable with concrete deadlines.
The participants in the seminar also coalesced around the need for greater domestic resource mobilisation and more efforts on fighting tax evasion and tax avoidance.
This is necessary as most people living in extreme poverty are found in emerging economies, such as China, India and Brazil, which generate enough income to eradicate its root causes.
The greater mobilisation of domestic resources could be achieved through the establishment of democratic and stable institutions and through ensuring good governance, which are featured in the SDGs.
Improving tax collection and fighting corruption are some of the ways to achieve greater mobilisation of domestic resources.
If revenues from tax collection in developing countries were to increase with 1 % this would have the same effect as doubling the amount of development aid.
The MEPs also highlighted the need to tackle corruption more effectively as illicit financial flows coming out of developing countries were ten times the level of ODA going in.
As regards international resources for development, the MEPs agreed that it was necessary to re-launch the global partnership for development with the greater inclusion of the private sector.
The MEPs expressed support for the introduction of a global tax system and the establishment of an intergovernmental body, such as an UN committee on tax.
In particular, the MEPs placed importance on achieving gender equality and reducing inequality both between and within countries.
As the EU was not able achieve all this on its own, it was seeking the cooperation of other international actors such as the African Union and the Group of 77.
The participants agreed that three landmark events are to take place until the end of the year, which will prove decisive in determining the direction that development policy takes in the near future.
Firstly, this will be the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, which will take place in Addis Ababa between July 13 and 16.
This will be followed by the UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda, which will be held in New York between September 25 and 27.
The third important event will be the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris between 30 November and 11 December.