Development assistance to be discussed again

Published: 06 December 2010

Men in dark suits, women in costumes are rushing through a glass corridor of a huge congress building in Brussels. They are hurrying to discussion meetings that are on program of the European Development Days (EDD).

“This conference will be more about listening than talking. It’s a great chance to bring the people together,” says Cathrine Ray, spokesperson of European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, who is the iniciator of this conference. It takes place in Brussels from 6. to 7. December 2010. People like Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Director of the International Monetary Fund, or José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, which  is the second biggest donor of development aid after the USA (around 11 bld Euro per year), delivered the opening speeches. On the program there are themes like the Lisbon treaty and the way it affected development aid, the need to face the reality of budget cuts or how to improve aid effectiveness.

However there have been also critics about this meeting. “I don’t know who they are going to bring together, when the majority of the speakers are the politicians. There are only a few business or NGO representatives, unfortunately. To me it’s a waste of more than three million Euros,” says Meagen Baldwin from Concord, a confederation of European NGOs. Neither one of the financial ministers of any European country takes part in EDD either.  Critics are heard also on the content of the conferences. “It’s just a lot of talks without really saying anything,” thinks Sonia Niznik, a young reporter from Austria.

The European Development Days are already a fourth conference that encounters development issues this year. The first one was a UN Summit in New York in September, second a G20 meeting in Seoul in October and third, the most recent one, was an Africa-EU Summit in Tripoli at the end of November.