On 2 April 2014, the European Parliament voted in favour of the Commission’s proposal for 2015 to be the European Year for Development. On that occasion, Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs stated that “the European Year for Development 2015 will provide an unparalleled opportunity for us to engage with EU citizens, to showcase our strong commitment to eradicating poverty worldwide and to inform them how every euro of support helps to make a difference in the lives of so many, in some of the world’s poorest countries”.
As the last step in the EU decision-making procedure, on the 14 April 2014 the European Council formally endorsed the designation of 2015 as the European Year for Development (Decision). The motto of the year will be "Our world, our dignity, our future".
Since 1983 the European Institutions have been selecting a theme of action with the aim of raising awareness of certain topics, encourage debate and change attitudes. During many European years, a special budget is allocated to local, national and cross-border initiatives that address the Year’s chosen topic. The European Year can also send a strong commitment and political signal from the EU institutions and member governments so that the subject will be taken into consideration in future policy-making. In some cases, the European Commission may propose new legislation on the theme.
This choice has to be read in the context of the important changes which have affected the world economy and political balance in the recent years and in the light of the important role played by the EU in promoting development at the global level.
Since 1957, the European Union has been providing development cooperation assistance and maintains its position as the world’s biggest aid donor. Furthermore, the Lisbon Treaty has redefined the role of EU development policy as a policy in its own right, and not merely subsidiary for common foreign and security policies.
In 2000, with the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the international community established concrete development objectives planned to be attained by 2015. Therefore the year 2015 will be crucial for the evaluation of the results achieved in the last 15 years and for the transition towards a new European development framework and strategy.
The European Parliament (EP)’s legislative resolution on the European Year for Development highlights that the successful impact of the EU action for development will depend on the popular and political support it will receive, the effective and efficient use of public funds and the efficient coordination between all partners which will be involved in its implementation. In relation to this last aspect, it is important to stress the reference made to Overseas Countries and Territories when calling for a close cooperation between Member States’ national coordinators and relevant stakeholders (article 4, 1). Even worthier of note is the request by the EP to the European Commission to put forward, and ensure that OCTs are supported through appropriate institutional channels, so as to facilitate their participation in the activities related to the European Year for Development.
On 19 June 2014, a high level “EDY Key –Players Meeting - TOWARDS THE EUROPEAN YEAR FOR DEVELOPMENT: 6 MONTHS TO GO” took place at “Le Square”, in Brussels, to exchange on the communication strategy, mobilization of stakeholders and expected results for the European Year for Development.
In this regard, Member States will be soon invited by the Commission (by 1 September 2014), to transmit their work programme setting out the national initiatives planned in accordance with the objectives of the European Year.
OCTs are therefore encouraged to reach out their respective Member States’ contact points to be involved in the planning and organization of activities in the context of the European Year for Development 2015.