Yesterday I was invited to hand out prizes for the EuropeAid 2009 Communication Awards - Project of the Year. The main prize went to… the EU-UNICEF project for the improvement of Mother and Child Care Health Services in Uzbekistan.
Today, Commissioner Piebalgs held his first official meeting with Pascal Lamy, Director General of the World Trade Organisation.
They notably discussed the aid for trade strategy, to which the EU is the biggest contributor.
The state of play of the Doha Development Agenda was also at the agenda, as well as the importance of regional integration.
Both of them will pursue the discussion at the conference on Regional Integration that will take place in London on 4th of March.
On 17th and 18th February, Commissioner Piebalgs participated for the first time in the Informal Meeting of Development Ministers in La Granja (Segovia) (see my interview in El País). The Informal Meeting was a good occasion to meet Development Ministers from the Member States and to start working together on the common challenges ahead. The Council also held discussions with representatives of the European Parliament, NGOs, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UN Special Representative in Haiti, E. Mulet.
Yesterday, Commissioner Piebalgs received H.E. Mr Raymond Magloire, Ambassador of Haiti to the EU. This was the first official meeting of the Commissioner, which was devoted to discuss the current situation on the ground.
Commissioner Piebalgs said: 'My priority is to help the people of Haiti to rebuild the country as quickly as possible. You can count on me to invest all my energy to deliver concrete results'. One of the first priority of the Commission will be to help to restore the governmental capacities and institutions. The Commissioner also announced that he intends to visit Haiti very soon.
Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, issued the following statement today: 'The European Union welcomes the determination of Nigeria’s democratic institutions to ensure the continuity of democracy and to respect the rule of law.'
'Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom'. This statement was made by Nelson Mandela in 2005. Five years later, as I begin my new duties as Commissioner for Development, I take the liberty to borrow Mandela's inspiring thought. Mandela's words perfectly reflect my own vision for my new responsibilities. At the same time, it neatly encapsulates the values which are the basis for the EU's development policy.