On Friday, the long awaited policy note by Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag was published. The note was the outcome of a process of consultation, scientific analysis and much discussion within and outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We searched for the spirit underlying it: What trends does this minister consolidate and deepen? What is new? Are those new aspects a superficial change of discourse or a genuine break with the past? On what issues is the paper silent and what do those silences tell us?
This week the European Investment Bank (EIB), or ‘Europe’s house bank’, presented a concept policy note which outlines future policies on loans in the energy sector provided by the bank. Network organisations CEE Bankwatch and Counter Balance, both of which Both ENDS is a member, monitor policies and investments of the EIB. They find the new proposal very disappointing and have therefore sent a press release. Huub Scheele from Both ENDS, who has been working with our colleagues from CEE Bankwatch and Counter Balance for years, explains why.
As negotiations were held by European policymakers today about a possible capital increase of the European Investment Bank (EIB), a press release was issued by Counter Balance: a coalition of Both ENDS and European NGO's that monitor the EIB. As long as it's not clearly evident where the loaned money goes and no conditions are set for advancing the support of sustainable projects, the EIB is not ready for such an expansion according to the involved organisations.
EU Agriculture Ministers have been officially briefed by the Hungarian Presidency on the outcome of a 3-day conference on how the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) can promote sustainable animal husbandry. The conference was organized with the support of Both ENDS by a consortium of European NGO's & Fair Trade organizations. 80 Civil Society representatives from 15 European countries were brought together to Debrecen (Hungary) to discuss how the future Common Agricultural Policy can contribute to a sustainable animal husbandry sector in Europe.
Last Wednesday, just before the summer recess, the Tweede Kamer (the Dutch Lower House) discussed Minister Koenders's policy memorandum: "Samen werken aan mondiale uitdagingen, Nederland en multilaterale ontwikkelingssamenwerking" (Working together on global challenges; the Netherlands and multilateral development cooperation). With 'multilateral' Koenders refers to the UN, Multilateral Financial Institutions (MFIs) such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and a number of global funds.
On 25 and 26 May 2009 the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a seminar on the interlinkages between human rights and the Millennium Development Goals. For many years, Both ENDS and allied organisations - such as the Freshwater Action Network, the Centrre on Housing Rights and Evictions and Simavi - have been advocating a human rights approach to development. This approach strengthens the rights of civil society in determining how natural resources are managed.
After Dutch Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra had brought the fury of the Southern European countries down on his head on 26 March by blocking the European emergency fund, the Dutch were suddenly 'small-minded and selfish‘ (Parool) and we should ‘go on holiday somewhere else‘ (RTL News). The tone was set. The difficulties encountered in making agreements on support at European level contrast sharply with the speed with which the welcome support measures for employers, entrepreneurs and companies had been announced in the Netherlands two weeks earlier. We have learned nothing from our own past, while everyone benefits from greater priority for solidarity.