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"Communicating European Development Policy" – a seminar organized by the European Economic and Social Committee



The European Union is the largest provider of development funds in the world. Efficient spending is of course of paramount importance. However, informing the public opinion of the implementation of the European development policy is not to be neglected either. The latter issue was the focus of a seminar organized by the EESC on November 26-27th in Luxembourg.


The achievements of the European Economic and Social Committee show the importance of sometimes difficult but ultimately efficient social dialog. Such a message definitely deserves to communicated widely said EESC President Georgios Dassis.


Klaus Rudischhauser, Deputy Director General at DEVCO, pointed out that in 2015, the European Union had several significant achievements in the field of development policy. Among them he counted a.o.: the passing of the Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030, the preparations for the COP21 summit in Paris and helping solve the ebola crisis in West Africa.


Moreover, Rudischhauser underlined the importance of sustainable supply chains as an area were the tangible effects of development policy are particularly noticeable. In his opinion, the topic may prove particularly attractive due to the impact of consumer choices on the everyday lives of citizens of developing countries.


– We have talk about sustainable development goals in such a way that will make EU citizens understand that meeting these goals will have an impact on their life as well – stressed Gabriele Bischoff, President of Group II of the EESC.


Rudischhauser’s views gained the support of Marius Wanders, director of the Brussels office of the international charity organization World Vision. He stated that European development institutions, particularly in times of economic crisis, should avoid the language of bureaucracy and show the impact of sustainable development policies on people’s everyday lives. – Citizens of the EU and developing countries share some problems, as well as values and goals: regardless of geography, people want to determine their own futures – he remarked.


This sentiment was reiterated by President of Group III of the EESC Luca Jahier. – The right to determine one’s future is probably the ultimate and universal goal –  he said. In the participants’ view, meeting sustainable development goals may markedly contribute to ensuring that all over the world as many people as possible may exercise this right.


Romain Schneider, the  Luxembourg Minister for Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, stressed that improving global economic stability is in everybody’s interest not just the direct beneficiaries of development programs. – The importance of the access to energy for developing countries has to be kept in mind. We need not only state funding, but private capital as well. Business has an important role to play in this regard – he added.


The role of the labour market in facilitating sustainable development was discussed by Marcia Poole, Director of Communication at the International Labour Organization. According to her, ensuring decent work conditions, in particular through transparent and efficient social dialog, is particularly important in this context. – The inclusion of decent work among the SDGs is a great success, but providing access to it all over the world poses an equally great challenge – she stated.


– We should think of development not only in terms of the distribution of wealth, but also in terms of the distribution of available work – emphasized Georgios Dassis.


– The Committee should communicate that it cares for the people. If this message is to be clear, we have to stick close to the economic reality – concluded Gonçalo Lobo Xavier, EESC Vicepresident for Communication.