Article written

  • on 09.10.2014
  • at 03:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Neven Mimica: ‘No one is questioning the Cotonou Agreement, but…’ 0

Brussels – The current European Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Croatian politician Neven Mimica*, has been approved by the European Parliament’s Committee on Development (DEVE) to serve as the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development in the new Juncker Commission*.

Despite little experience with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), Mr. Mimica was surprisingly convincing during his hearing at the European Parliament on the 29th of September. ‘We were expecting very broad declarations,’ said Charles Goerens, MEP for the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, ‘but he already knows his stuff’. Mr. Mimica will certainly be busy. From the post-2015 Development Agenda to the Climate Summit in Paris next year – and the Cotonou Agreement ending in 2020 – the new commissioner has a lot on his plate and must prove himself right for the job.

The European Union is the world’s main international donor and one of the fairest. Its 2014-2020 budget for aid and development was spared from the cuts Member States imposed on the EU Commission. Yet the current economic downturn and the dramatic situation faced by millions of European citizens inevitably constrains aid to development. ‘Every single euro devoted to aid for development needs to be spent effectively,’ said a diplomatic source in Brussels, ‘and pressure from our citizens is increasing’.

Neven Mimica, where does Africa fit into your agenda for the next five years?

During my hearing at the European Parliament, I reiterated my support to develop a real functional framework to continue our partnership with ACP countries and particularly with Africa. I rest assured by the members of the Committee on Development (DEVE): the question is not whether the partnership itself is still relevant, but how to tackle new realities. My intention is to launch a broad public consultation early next year to discuss the issues facing Africa and ACP countries in this new post-Cotonou era. During this consultation, we will work with our partners in African countries to define a new approach. I hope this will not take five years, and that we will come to an agreement before the end of Cotonou in 2020.

Will your relationship with Africa and ACP countries be more focused on social inclusion?

In terms of our partnership with Africa and ACP countries, one of the new realities we have to address will be determined by the discussions held at the United Nations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This conference (scheduled in New York next year) and future targets will be constructed around the three pillars of sustainability: economic, social and environmental. This approach should also be the basis for our partnership with Africa. Economic development alone is not enough to fight poverty. We must also consider the social and environmental aspects of the issue. This brings a wind of change to the European Commission’s previous approach.

By Joshua Massarenti –

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* The final vote on Juncker’s team by the European Parliament is scheduled on 22 October. The new European commission is set to start work on 1 November, but could be delayed by the withdrawal of the Slovenian commission candidate, Alenka Bratusek.

As a member of Croatia’s Social Democratic Party since 2004, Mr. Mimica has occupied several political positions in different countries throughout his career. Starting in 1997 as the Chief negotiator on the admission of Croatia to the World Trade Organization (WTO), he was elected Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs in 2000 and Minister for European Integration in 2001. Mr. Mimica made his debut for the Croatian parliament in 2004 as the chairman of the European Integration Committee. Previous to his new role in Juncker’s Commission, he served as Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister and saw his country join the European Union in 2013.

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