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Andrew Burgess
Journalist and EU Blogger (Exmouth, United Kingdom)

European citizen with a well-used UK passport.

A graduate in French, Journalism and European Politics from universities in both France and the UK, I have spent time as an active member of the press corps in Brussels and Strasbourg at the European Parliament.

During what was a historic time for the EU with the introduction of the Lisbon Treaty, the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen and the financial troubles in the Eurozone, to name just a few, I attended the twice-monthly plenary sessions in Brussels and Strasbourg, as well as hearings on diverse subjects of interest, press conferences and numerous high-profile press points.

I regard meeting former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, UEFA President Michel Platini, President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs Baroness Ashton as particular highlights to date.

It would be an honour and an amazing opportunity to extend my reporter's portfolio from the UN summit in September.

I write a regular blog on European Union business, La Treizième Étoile, and can be found on Twitter at @andrewjburgess.

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MEPs demand ‘strong EU commitment’ to get MDG progress back on track

Published 02nd July 2010 - 0 comments - 7637 views -

MEPs vote during a plenary session in Strasbourg (Photo: AFP)

A few weeks ago at the last plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the Parliament officially adopted a resolution setting out its position as regards the EU’s progress on meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals.

The verdict: innovative development funding mechanisms need to be backed by the EU, as the world's leading aid donor if the MDGs are to be met by the 2015 deadline.


The report, produced by the British MEP rapporteur Michael Cashman, states that the EU is off track even for its 2010 interim 0.56% target and there is a real risk of not meeting the MDGs on time.

"What I want to see is leadership from the EU, not the minimum set that they can agree on, but a commitment to that 0.7% of gross national income, a commitment to additional financing", said Mr Cashman during the plenary debate on the resolution held on Monday 14th June.

Lithuanian Liberal MEP Leonidas Donskis welcomed the resolution but urged MEPs that any attempt to reduce poverty cannot exist without tackling security issues outside EU borders and the "extreme poverty" in Europe, such as in Moldova and Ukraine.

UKIP MEP Gerard Batten also took to the floor in this debate and while he welcomed the aims of the MDGs, he declared the targets as being simply "unrealistic".

'Innovative funding mechanisms'

While no additional money is likely to be committed by member states to combat climate change and the effects of economic crises in this time of austerity measures, a series of “innovative funding mechanisms” have been promoted and by the passing of the resolution have gained the support of the MEPS.

These advocated measures, as stated in the resolution document, include:

  • renewed efforts by member states to ease the debt burden of least developed countries (LDCs) with a track record of accountability, transparency and good governance,
  • further energy devoted to cracking down on tax havens and tax evasion and illicit financial flows as well as systematically disclosing profits made and taxes paid by companies,
  • reducing the costs of transferring money earned by migrant workers back to their families in their home countries.

"Policies on voluntary family planning, safe abortion, treatment of sexual transmitted infections and provision of reproductive health supplies made up of life-saving drugs and contraceptives, including condoms should be supported" by member states and Commission, reads the resolution.

The resolution was approved with 353 votes in favour,206 against and 75 abstentions.

Michael Cashman MEPReacting to the vote, Mr Cashman, pictured left, expressed his delight his report was adopted but regret that many members from the right and centre-right of the Parliament had refused to support the report.

I feel sorry for the 281 MEPs who do not wish to reach out, help and speak out on behalf of those who do not have a voice. Now is certainly not the time for ideological differences to prevent MDGs being achieved", he said.

He also regretted not being able to put forward a tax to finance additional funding or an interest-free moratorium until 2015 on debt repayments for developing countries, due to the opposition of the Conservatives (
EPP) and Liberals (ALDE).

Billions were made available to get Europe through the financial crisis, and a tiny, shameful percentage went to the developing and to the less developed countries."

But for Dutch Green MEP 
Judith Sargentini, a member of European Parliament's Development Committee (DEVE), the report of the progress achieved paints “a mixed picture”.

We are not on track to reach those goals, a failure due also to the EU and its member states, who didn't develop ambitious enough policies,” she said. The economic crisis "is for many countries even a reason to cut their development aid, and during the next five years we need a catch up.

The Greens want the European countries to finally take their responsibility for the success of the MDGs. As a start, all European countries should spend 0.7% of GNP on development aid,” she said.

Gabriele Zimmer said approval of the report "sends a strong signal to member states that they cannot relinquish their responsibilities in the fight against poverty and hunger".

I would have gone further and demanded that the EU cannot sign off on agreements unless they contribute in one way or another to the fulfilment of the MDGs," she said.

With only five years to go to the 2015 deadline for achieving the MDGs, MEPs 
expect the European Council "to agree on an ambitious and united EU position" shortly ahead of the UN MDG summit meeting in New York on 20-22 September 2010.



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