The new year has begun, and with it also the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Sweden will hold the Presidency for the first semester of 2023. What the Presidency’s priorities are in the field of development cooperation?
The new year has begun, and with it also the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Sweden will hold the Presidency for the first semester of 2023.
Swedish Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, presented the priorities of the Presidency in a speech to the Swedish Parliament on 14 December, where he identified the Presidency's primary task as ensuring Europe’s security by standing up for Ukraine, but also, in an increasingly insecure world, by underscoring the EU’s geopolitical significance. The Presidency also affirmed that it will support the Commission’s work to present an initial voluntary review of the EU’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda and ensure the continued implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
When it comes to development cooperation, on January 25th the DEVE Committee of the European Parliament hosted an exchange with Minister Forssell in charge of International Development and Foreign Trade who stressed that the three main priorities will be: 1) To ensure a strong commitment to Ukraine, particularly in terms of humanitarian assistance; 2) The fight against corruption as an obstacle to development; 3) The EU Global Health Strategy to improve global health security and deliver better health for all in a changing world Agenda.
Minister Forssell, who is also in charge of foreign trade, highlighted the importance of trade in delivering development.
The prove of the Presidency will be the concrete steps it will take to reach these goals.
From SOLIDAR’s perspective, fighting corruption will need strong concrete actions to ensure that the profits generated in developing countries benefit local people. Some existing tools can be used in this regard and could be reinforced. For example, as highlighted by MEP Udo Bullman, the Presidency could enhance measures to fight tax dodging and tax avoidance, reinforcing country-by-country reporting by multinational companies (including European ones) that invest in developing countries but do not pay their fair taxes.
At the same time, while EU trade policy can leverage social, environmental, and human rights, as well as consumers protection standards worldwide, SOLIDAR considers that this will only be the case if rooted in the respect of ILO International Labour Standards and Environmental ones and excluding from trade negotiations essential services, such as education and health care.
Lastly, just seven years before the Sustainable Development Goals will need to be achieved, we expect the Swedish Presidency, and next to come to take actions to ensure policy coherence for sustainable development, and a strong ‘just’ transition for Europe and its partners’ countries.
Credits image: Jan VAN DE VEL © European Union 2023 - Source : EP