Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley Anne Knight attended the European Development Days in Brussels on 6 December in her capacity as Ambassador for the European Year 2010 for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.
Lesley-Anne Knight said, “In Europe, today, one in six people are living at risk poverty. It’s one of the successes of the European Year 2010 that it has shone a new light on this reality. A major step forward was taken when EU members agreed in June to lift at least 20 million Europeans out of the risk of poverty and social exclusion by 2020.
“We can extend the action in Europe to the parts of our planet where the world’s poorest people live. The deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals is 2015. During the next five years we need a concerted effort to ensure that we do not fail.”
Caritas says EU development policy must address the needs of the poor by ensuring they have access to livelihoods, basic services such as health and education and to their human rights.
EU development policy is currently aimed at producing economic growth in developing countries, but Caritas says that growth must be pro-poor.
The EU’s Common Agriculture Policy has a negative impact on the lives and food security of millions of poor communities in developing countries.
Caritas says a future CAP regime must secure decent living conditions for European farmers and their families, but Caritas says poor people in developing countries must not pay the price for it.
Caritas says it is time to put an end to the current political way of putting specific economic interests before global justice and the fundamental right to food for all.
Caritas has participated in the European Year 2010, through Caritas Europa’s ‘Zero Poverty’ campaign, which has included activities ranging from conferences and seminars to city runs, fairs, festivals, candle lighting ceremonies and blood donations.
A petition calling for commitments to poverty eradication on the part of politicians and decision makers has collected more than 20,000 signatures.
A closing conference for the Zero Poverty campaign takes place 8 December in the European Policy Center, Brussels.
Read Lesley-Anne Knight speech in pdf
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