European Union

EU aid puts health on the back seat

The European Union is failing to prioritise health and education in its plans for spending aid in poor countries, according to a new study, which also found that the EU appears to be using development aid to promote Western political and commercial interests, rather than to alleviate hardship. Alliance2015, a coalition of anti-poverty networks, contends that the EUs lack of focus on health and education will put the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals in jeopardy.

Africa: Millennium Goals Not That Distant

People in rich nations need to give up their caricature of sub-Saharan Africa and to recognise and support real progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, Eveline Herfkens, executive coordinator of the Millennium Campaign told a meeting here last week.

Africa : EU coordinating €600 million for vaccine clinical trials

The EU is leading a programme to accumulate €600 million for clinical trials in Africa that will conduct research and development on possible vaccines for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The programme, known as the Europe-Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), intends to link national clinical research programmes from across Europe with scientists working in developing countries, mostly in Africa, to develop new drugs. The EU said that the EDCTP hoped to pool the resources of EU member states, plus Norway, into one research programme, resulting in the largest clinical trials programme ever to have targeted Africa. The EU said the money would be used purely for research. Of the proposed €600 million, the European Commission has set aside €200 million from community funds, and a further €200 million will be drawn from the national clinical research projects of countries participating in the programme. Donors and public-private partnerships will provide the remaining €200 million. The EDCTP was launched in April 2002 but the initial activities, which will involve capacity building in undisclosed locations across Africa, are due to begin in October 2003. ( Source: IRIN 2 September2003).

EU fails to commit 1 billion euros to Global Fund

Despite, pressure from the United Kingdom, France and President Bush, EU leaders failed to commit to donating €1 billion euros to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria at last weekend's EU Summit in Greece, agreeing instead `to make a substantial contribution`. The formula was agreed because Germany, the Netherlands and several other smaller states said that they could not afford to give more support because of ongoing budgetary problems. The final declaration from the European heads of government stated that the European Council “calls upon each Member State and the Commission to make a substantial contribution, on a long-term basis, to the financing of the Fund.” The final amount to be given this year will not be decided until a meeting of Global Fund donors in Paris next month. A spokesman for the European Commission told EU Business that the Commission was disappointed that some heads of government had felt unable to commit to the target, and it would work to maximise the EU contribution. The 1 billion euro contribution target was set as a result of a US stipulation that any US donation should not comprise more than one-third of the Global Fund’s annual donations. However, last week’s proposals from Congressional Republicans on how much should be allocated to foreign aid (including the Global Fund) leave significant doubts as to whether the US will be able either to increase its support for the Fund or to make a long-term commitment. At the moment, the Global Fund is still far short of the funds its needs. The Fund says it needs $3 billion by the end of 2004. At present only 23% of the Global Fund's projectedis available. (Source: 24 June, 2003).

Implications of Direct to Consumer Advertising

HAI Europe warns against possible impact of DTCA on the European Union and other regions.

Recent proposals to revise the legal framework for medicines in the EU raise concerns for public health and national health budgets, argues HAI Europe. The article “Is the EU edging towards DTCA? Examining the consequences of industry's latest lobby” describes the strong pressure the European Commission is under to relax its rules on advertising prescription medicines directly to consumers in the European Union and the amount of potential profit at stake. It summarises how other regions such as the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Canada are responding to industry pressure on this type of advertising. The story also suggests that moves to allow DTCA in Europe could have huge consequences for consumers in the developing world.