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  • on 05.03.2015
  • at 04:47 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Ebola Conference 2015: Louis Michel, EU looks at most effective ways to tackle Ebola Crisis 0

With the Ebola crisis still on-going for large swaths of the populations of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, certain donors need to do more and the funds raised need to be channelled in the most effective way possible, according to Louis Michel, co-president of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. In this interview with Afronline.org, he notes that the crisis will not be resolved “without putting in place the necessary institutions that can tackle these health issues”.

Yesterday, President Condé requested for additional funds from the European Union. How can the EU respond to this request?

First of all, the EU does not have an unlimited amount of funds. Also, the EU is today, by a very, very long way, the biggest donor of funds in the world. There is no other donor that is as generous as the European Union.

President Condé made an important point when he stated that if a donor says they will donate 1 000, they must follow through on their promise. We know that more funds are needed and although the EU will continue to provide support and has already done so on a massive scale, we cannot do it alone and the other large donors must make a bit more of an effort.

I believe it was also important that the Heads of States, including President Condé, highlighted the importance of ensuring that countries have the necessary infrastructure, such as laboratories, hospitals or clinics, to treat and take care of their populations. This is a perfectly understandable request and if we want to eradicate Ebola, countries need to have the necessary infrastructure in place. One possible way, that I have proposed, of financing these institutions would be the pooling of resources of the countries involved, the regions, Africa as a whole and the wider international community. This pooling of resources would entail a contribution according to the means of the donor, whether it is through support on the ground or through a raising of  funds.

Would this mean the setting up of a sort of Trust Fund?

I never mentioned the idea of a trust fund. I prefer instead that we directly finance the countries and provide budgetary support. We often hear at European level that the countries must take responsibility, but at the same time we are reluctant to give these States direct financial support. Providing budget support to these States allows them to pay for the necessary institutions and their staff. This is how we create functioning States that are able to carry out their core functions and responsibilities and where one’s ability to access the necessary services is not merely determined by one’s ability to pay.

You have already mentioned the importance of other donors making more of an effort. Who do you mean?

I am referring to all the other large donors, such as the US, China, Japan, Canada etc. These donors are indeed generous, but their actions could not be compared with those of the European Union. We always say that the EU should do more and more, yet the EU represents 60% of international aid. We need to consider new, innovative financial mechanisms for raising money. For example, a portion of funds raised from a type of Tobin Tax, a tax on financial transactions, could go to supporting a fund designed to finance international development.

But the Member States of the EU do not want to implement such a tax.

That is not true. 13 or 14 countries have already said they wish to implement such a tax, including my own (Belgium, Editor’s Note). Even the Member States that do not wish to implement such a tax at this point do support it in principle, but they want it to be implemented on a worldwide level.

by Joshua Massarenti and Kevin Hind

Photo Credit: The European Humanist Foundation

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