The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria together with the Open Society Institute - Sofia, the Bulgarian Diplomatic Institute and with the support of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, organized a public lecture by the EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, entitled “How European Development Cooperation Contributes to the Transformation of the Global Order”.
Commissioner Piebalgs commenced his speech by underlining Bulgaria’s important role as regards to assisting developing countries. According to him this will improve our country’s image. Mr. Piebalgs acknowledged that certain states, including Bulgaria, are currently experiencing difficulties, but he also added that this should not become a reason for them to turn their backs on developing countries. He focused on the growing interdependence in the world and especially on the fact that Bulgaria’s prosperity depends not only on the EU, but also on the whole world, including Africa. The EU Commissioner recommended that our country increase the amount of GDP spent on aiding developing countries, which is about 0,009% at the moment.
Mr. Piebalgs emphasized on the necessity for collective cooperation in the struggle against world threats. According to him the main reasons for wars and conflicts are poverty and insecurity and this requires teamwork for facilitating poor countries. The EU Commissioner pointed out the EU’s leading role as an aid donor with its 50 billion Euros annually. This help should be considered an investment in Europe’s future, he added. As an example for our changing perceptions of the world, Mr. Piebalgs mentioned one of the most important events in recent times - the Arab Spring. The basic principle the EU has proposed when working for partnership with these countries is “more for more” - more assistance for countries that implement more reforms, he said.
Commissioner Piebalgs continued by presenting key moments from the new EU program for aiding some of the poorest countries in the world, called “Agenda for change”. It provides for concentrating our efforts in fewer sectors and to countries which need our help the most. It is also expected that in the future the EU’s expenses will be directed to fields related to long-term growth and where this help is going to make a change, he said. The Commissioner stressed on some of the priority sectors for which the EU will grant assistance, including social care, health, education, good governing, upholding human rights and democracy, gender equality, the role of the civil society, and struggle against corruption.
In the end of his speech, Mr. Piebalgs once more called for uniting the efforts of all the EU member states in order to fight poverty and for coordinating our actions with other global partners such as the USA, China and Japan. He also added that if countries, which have the means to help, don’t do it, this will inevitably affect problems with international significance, like deforestation and soil erosion. “No one can tell when a crisis will burst out, but the EU needs to be ready to support democratization, sustained growth and market development in countries around the world.”