On 19 May, I will attend the Foreign Affairs Council for Development in Brussels. The meeting will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton of Upholland. The UK is recognised as a leader in international development as the first G7 member to reach the UN aid target of 0.7% gross national income. As Secretary of State for International Development, I look forward to participating in the meeting to share the UK experience in delivering world-class international development and to work with other member states to push the EU to do more to use its development, humanitarian, trade and diplomatic instruments in a coherent way to end poverty.
Baroness Ashton is expected to cover a number of topics in her introductory remarks, including an update on the Ukraine donor co-ordination platform. I will take this opportunity to underline the vital role which the EU and member states can play in supporting the Ukrainian Government’s reform efforts.
The UK remains at the forefront of the post-2015 discussions, building on the Prime Minister’s co-chairing of the UN high-level panel. Ministers will discuss progress in the international post-2015 process, including reflecting on current discussions in the open working group on sustainable development goals and next steps for the EU. I will use this discussion to encourage the EU and member states to think strategically about how to ensure we get the best possible outcome from next year’s UN negotiations.
The UK has been influential in strengthening EU development delivery. The EU is at the start of a new seven-year programming cycle under the new multi-annual financial framework. As a result of UK and like-minded member states’ efforts, there will be a greater focus on the poorest countries, increased flexibility and country ownership, and an enhanced ability to measure results of EU aid. Ministers will receive an update on implementation of the agenda for change, including programming of EU financial instruments and emerging trends in the current programming period. I will welcome progress towards a results-based approach to the delivery of EU aid, but also call for further action on results, tracking and value for money and greater ambition on girls and women.
Rights-based approach to development
Ministers will adopt Council conclusions on a rights-based approach to development co-operation reaffirming that promotion of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and good governance, and inclusive and sustainable growth, are basic and mutually reinforcing pillars of the EU’s development policy.
Other agenda items
I expect to receive updates from the Commission and European External Action Service on the forthcoming communication on private sector development, progress on policy coherence for development, the recent global partnership for effective development co-operation ministerial, and the Eastern Partnership. I will also update my counterparts on the “girl summit” which the Prime Minister and UNICEF will co-host on 22 July. This will be a defining moment to rally a global movement to end female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage for all girls within a generation. With global co-operation, we can build on the efforts of many developing country Governments and local communities to end these harmful practices.