Global Policy Forum

Stomping Out Poverty Begins with a Treaty?


By Alia Papageorgiou

November 15, 2009

The Lisbon Treaty is coming into affect on 1 December with policy changes aplenty.
One main aim will be to tackle poverty, and make poverty a priority in development aid kicking this off with 2010 being the year on combating poverty.
Anna Visser, Director of the European Anti-Poverty Network in Ireland explains, "Our current economic predicament is too serious," as the economic crisis has sent poverty levels soaring.
Every year, EAPN Ireland works with the Irish delegation to the European Meetings of People Experiencing Poverty, organized by the EU Presidency in Brussels. This year was an important one to be present and families dealing with poverty were brought along to talk about what it means to them on a daily basis and their struggle for independence from the welfare system.
Zia Qureshi a Development Economist for the World Bank speaking to New Europe mentioned that even as a result of the economic crisis poverty and hunger had escalated "to amounts most people are not even aware of, especially in developing countries." The broader global development impact is not that well known.
Laura Sullivan, Action Aid European Policy Coordinator says of the new treaty, that these provisions on poverty and in particular development aid ahead of us have given birth to many questions.
"How the Treaty will be read and applied in practice remains to be seen. Will there still be a Commissioner for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance with equal footing in the College of Commissioners and a strong position vis-a-vis the Council? Will one Commissioner have overall responsibility for both policy formulation and programming, with all developing countries in one single service, as opposed to the current muddled set-up of three (DGs Development, Europe Aid and Relex)?
The Treaty of Lisbon introduces a specific legal basis for humanitarian aid. This provision stresses the specificity of the policy and the application of the principles of international humanitarian law, in particular impartiality and non-discrimination.
The Treaty of Lisbon clearly states that the reduction and the eradication of poverty is the primary objective of the Union's development cooperation policy. This implies also that development policy is a policy in its own right, and not an accessory of common foreign and security policy.
Mirjam Van Reisen Director of the Europe External Policy Advisors organization says that although the Lisbon Treaty strengthens the objective of development co-operation, confirming "poverty eradication" as the principle aim of the EU's development co-operation, the administration of the EU executive, the European Commission, has systematically violated the policy definition of development co-operation.
Ambassador Ali Mchumo, the Managing Director of the UN Financing Institution Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) speaking to New Europe last week in Brussels said that as a former Ambassador for Tanzania he was very happy with the European Union's aid activities in his country, "I applaud it! I think it's great that 27 Member States can place such an article in their treaty."
As poverty eradication named as the primary objective ((Art.208) and Humanitarian Affairs being included into the treaty for the first time (Art.214), the European Union is requested to increase its leading role in fighting hunger worldwide responds Welthungerhilfe to the launch of the Lisbon Treaty.
In 2009 more than 1 billion people are affected by malnutrition and hunger.
One of the reasons is the low production capacity of smallholder farmers, who do not have access to markets says the German NGO Welthungerhilfe.
"The European Union is requested to focus its development assistance on the agricultural sector, mainly smallholder farmers, who constitute a major share of the poor," a Welthungerhilfe spokesperson commented to New Europe.
One step at a time can make one go a long way; the Lisbon Treaty is pushing us into the next age. Will it be enough to eradicate poverty, both within the EU and throughout its aid policies?


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