|Vol 7, No.15, 12.4.01, p2
THE European Commission is to scrap outstanding debts owed to the EU by some of the world's poorest nations as part of its strategy to help least developed countries.
The decision was announced this week as part of the Commission's contribution to the third United Nations conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs), to be held in Brussels from 14-21 May.
Development Commissioner Poul Nielson stressed that the EU was targeting aid on the world's poorest states and helping them take advantage of better access to the Union's market.
"Our LDC partners have made it very clear to us that they expect more than charity," he said. "They want to be given opportunities."
The decision on additional debt relief will free LDCs from having to repay around 60 million euros on loans made under the EU's European Development Fund, some of which date back over ten years.
The EU has already played a large part in cancelling the debts of the world's poorest states, wiping out nearly 900 million euros in unpaid loans.
Under the Commission's strategy for the conference, Nielson stressed the Union's focus of targeting aid to the world's poorest states, while giving priority to development and education.
"We should never treat these very poor countries like sick patients, but like struggling societies with a will to develop under very adverse national and global conditions," Nielson said.
He also restated the Union's commitment to fighting the spread of infectious diseases in the LDCs.
Measures include EU-led efforts to devise a workable tiered pricing system for medicines which will enable poorer countries to buy the drugs they need to treat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Nielson also unveiled steps to help LDCs benefit from better access to the EU market by improving their competitiveness and making it easier for them to join the World Trade Organisation.
The EU is covering most of the costs of holding the UN conference in Brussels, with a €6 million contribution.
Participants hope that the meeting will agree an action programme to fight poverty in the LDCs.
The European Commission is to scrap outstanding debts owed to the EU by some of the world's poorest nations as part of its strategy to help least developed countries. The decision was announced as part of the Commission's contribution to the third United Nations conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs), to be held in Brussels, 14-21 May 2001.
|Politics and International Relations