Debt relief and Sustainable Development Goals
EU development ministers discussed the issue of debt relief, investment and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably in the context of the COVID-19 global response and recovery effort.
We need to avoid a situation where some countries in insolvency might trigger a full-fledged debt crisis, with even more devastating consequences for the global economy. Fast action is needed and the clock is ticking. Debt relief – well managed – is in the interest of every one of us.
Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Ministers took note of the fact that many countries facing unsustainable debt levels, including some middle-income countries that now face the risk of debt distress, suffer even more from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ministers agreed that situations involving countries in insolvency potentially triggering a full-fledged debt crisis should be avoided.
The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, participated in the discussions. She underlined the scale and nature of the debt build-up happening around the world, and the dangerous interaction between the impact of the pandemic and the economic damage it is inflicting.
The Presidents of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Chair of the Paris Club also contributed to the debate.
Ministers also discussed how Team Europe, which consists of the EU, its member states, their diplomatic network, financial institutions including national development banks, and implementing agencies as well as the EIB and the EBRD, could best complement debt relief efforts at multilateral and country level, and support partner countries in preparing a resilient, sustainable, and green recovery.
The High Representative announced that the EU would contribute EUR 183 million to the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to free up fiscal space in 29 countries, thereby making the EU the largest contributor.
Gender equality and women’s empowerment
EU development ministers then discussed how to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in all external action, in light of the forthcoming Joint Communication on the EU Gender Action Plan (GAP) III: An Ambitious Agenda for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in EU External Action, on 25 November 2020.
Ministers sent a strong signal that the EU is determined to fast-track its efforts, and to safeguard and promote the human rights of women and girls by working in all areas of EU external action including trade, the Green Deal and the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
Ministers agreed that the EU should continue to lead by example and would put the rights, protection and voice of women and girls globally front and centre, through concrete action.
Ministers were informed of the latest state of play regarding negotiations on the post-Cotonou Agreement, a modern and comprehensive agreement that would provide the basis for future relations between the EU and ACP partner countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific; negotiations are entering the final stage.
They were also briefed on the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), and the prospects of EU development cooperation in Tanzania.
In connection with the video conference, the Council approved conclusions on the Court of Auditors’ Special Report No. 14/2020 on EU Development Aid to Kenya by written procedure.