Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2000-06-14-Speech-3-330"

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"Mr President, on behalf of the Group of the Party of European Socialists, I would like to thank the rapporteur, Mr Marset Campos, for his excellent motion for a resolution and also for the great clarity of vision with which he has interpreted the spirit of this resolution, which must not be limited to solidarity but shift the focus onto much more tangible political initiatives. I do not wish to trawl through the figures recording the consequences of the hurricane again. I would simply stress the fact that the social and environmental damage concerns us far more than the economic damage caused, and it is that which is affecting this region. And since misfortune is never fair, particularly when meting out its after-effects, it is the poorer bands of society which, as always, have been worst affected. I would like to start by describing a paradox: the region hit by the hurricane, which is often hit by hurricanes as violent as this one, also includes Florida. Yet although Florida suffers the same weather conditions as Central America, it reports infinitely less serious damage. This is my point: we must start from here and consider the environmental and social vulnerability of Central America if we are to realise that the emergency relief culture and policy will not suffice, and this must be the focus of European Union aid. This resolution has the advantage of going beyond emergencies. The Community action plan is a chance to combine the reconstruction process with an element of change – change which these countries genuinely need – and to invest in a new economic and social development process based on the priorities of health, education and high quality services, which, in these countries, are directly responsible for the quality of life, and, above all, the quality of their democracy. The resolution explains in great detail that all this is possible provided that two conditions are upheld and satisfied. First of all, we must activate the monitoring and inspection measures, in order to avoid wastage, unlawful activity and fraud. To this end, the resolution calls for the European Union to have sole responsibility for planning, execution and monitoring of the aid. We are calling upon the Commission to take up its responsibility, and we consider it vital that it does so if we are to provide effective aid. However, the second condition is much more important: we need to increase the Commission’s financial and human resources. The funds appropriated are not sufficient and the staffing is certainly inadequate. In an area which has been greatly affected by political violence, the provision of aid – which is intended not only to provide emergency relief but to facilitate the restoration of democratic order as well – specifies and assumes a quality of preparation and a level of human resources which is quite different from that which has hitherto been envisaged. We consider that greater and more effective use should be made of the cooperation of non-governmental organisations, which represent not only extremely experienced and extremely reliable resources in the countries concerned, but, above all, tangible resources which enable us to make our intervention more dynamic and more effective. In other words, Mr President, Members of the Commission and the Council, I feel that it is time for the European Union to stop just declaring its solidarity and secure genuine, substantial fairness. This plan must do more than just provide immediate alleviation of the effects of the hurricane: it must also bring about redistribution of the country’s resources and restore the country’s opportunities. The resolution adopted by the European Parliament in November 1998 was also a step in this direction in that it referred to the cancellation of the foreign debt of the countries in the region, which amounted to USD 17 billion. I would like to conclude by reiterating the invitation to the Commission and the Council contained in the resolution to support the total and immediate cancellation of the foreign debt."@en1

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