In April of 2014, an important decision was taken in Brussels with important implications for the EU’s role in development cooperation. If you are a keen follower of all things European Union, I am sure you know. For those who are not – i.e. almost the whole of the rest of the world – in April this year European development ministers endorsed the decision to make 2015 the European Year for Development.
What is a “European Year” you ask? Each year since 1983, the European Union has chosen a specific theme or issue as a subject in order to “encourage debate and dialogue within and between European countries. In the past, for example, it has chosen such diverse topics as inter-cultural dialogue, creativity and innovation, languages, poverty reduction, and so on. In the words of the European Commission, the intention is to “aim is to raise awareness of certain topics, encourage debate and change attitudes”.
What will it mean for development?
The European Year for Development 2015, which was initially proposed by the European Parliament last year and received overwhelming support, will take place in a crucial year for the future of development cooperation. We will reach the deadline for the MDGs, and will be able to assess the final efforts to reach the goals and targets set out therein. The international community will gather in New York in September 2015 for a momentous General Assembly. the 2015 UNGA will be the culmination of negotiations on the SDGs and the post-2015 development framework.
It is in this context that the European Commission will take forward the Year on Development. European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs has said that the year is “an unparalleled opportunity for us to engage with EU citizens, to showcase our [the EU’s] strong commitment to eradicating poverty worldwide and to inform them how every euro of support helps to make a difference in the lives of so many, in some of the world’s poorest countries.”
As the world’s largest contributor of development assistance (as measured by ODA), the selection of development as the subject for the European Year in 2015 is hopefully a reaffirmation of the importance that development issues and the support for low- and middle-income countries has for EU external relations – and how the EU sees its role in the world.
From our side, DSW will continue to work towards creating the chances for young women and men around the world to take control of their lives, their health and their choices and their health. Empowering young people is fundamental to improving their social and economic opportunities and to allow them to reach their full potential. This message will surely play an important part of our work during the European Year for Development!
The views expressed in the blog are personal and do not reflect the official positions of DSW