Archive pour la catégorie ‘Co-op & Development’

The European Union believes in growth based on trade

Vendredi 27 janvier 2012

A range of proposals to make trade and development instruments work hand-in-hand to ensure real poverty reduction across the world are presented by the European Commission today.

The proposals aim at reinforcing the trade capacities of developing countries by making trade part of their development strategy. And to ensure we hit our target, the EU is currently looking into better ways of differentiating between developing countries to ensure the world’s poorest countries receive our biggest help. The role of trade is underlined in the proposal as one of the key drivers to support development, stimulate growth and to lift people out of poverty. Furthermore, today the EU calls for all developed economies to match its significant levels of market access to developing countries.

While the EU already provides more trade-related development assistance than the rest of the world put together, the Communication “Trade, growth and development” assesses the main next steps. For example: the traditional group of “developing countries” is outdated amid the rise of emerging economies. More tailor-made trade and development policies are needed that go beyond reducing customs duties at borders (tariff reductions), and tackle the major problem of improving the ‘business environment’.

To achieve this goal, the proposal underlines that developing countries’ leadership must also face up to their responsibilities. Developing countries need to undertake domestic reforms to ensure that the poor do indeed benefit from trade-led growth.

The Commission proposes a number of ways to improve the effectiveness of EU trade and development policy including:

reforming the EU’s preferential trade schemes to focus more on the poorest countries,
stepping up negotiations on free trade agreements with our developing country partners. These must look beyond tariffs to tackle the real barriers to trade,
increasing the use of EU instruments to promote foreign direct investment, including relevant provisions in free trade agreements to enhance legal certainty and combining EU grants with loans or risk capital to support the financial viability of strategic investments,
facilitating developing country exporters, especially small operators, to enter the EU,
assisting developing countries to improve their domestic business environment, meet international quality, labour and environmental standards and take better advantage of trade opportunities offered by open and integrated markets,
using trade measures to help mitigate the effects of natural disasters and tackle conflict catalysts, including in mining activities.
It also calls on emerging economies to assume more responsibility for opening their markets to LDCs through preferential schemes but also on a non-discriminatory basis towards the rest of the WTO membership, of which four-fifths are developing countries. At the same time, the EU offers emerging economies a more mature partnership that includes regulatory cooperation and engagement on global issues which are essential for development such as food security, sustainable use of natural resources, green growth and climate change.

Background
The EU leads the way in providing trade support to the developing countries:

- The EU imports more goods from developing countries than any other market. It is also the biggest market for developing world agricultural exports. Almost 70% of all agricultural imports to the EU comes from developing countries;
- developing countries benefit from EU preferences in the form of eliminated or significantly reduced tariffs for their goods (under the “General System of Preferences”);
- the Everything But Arms initiative offers duty free and quota free access to our markets for all Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and for all products except arms and is the most generous preferential import regime in the world;
the EU is leading world efforts for a package for LDCs in the multilateral trade talks;
- the EU supports the domestic reforms in developing countries needed for trade to fully contribute to development;
- The EU and its Member States are the world’s largest provider of Aid for Trade, which helps partners develop trade strategies, build trade-related infrastructure and improve productive capacity. The EU combined annual Aid for Trade reached €10.5 billion in 2009, maintaining the all-time high registered the year before;
- A substantial increase was also reported for EU Trade-Related Assistance (which is a sub-category of Aid for Trade that focuses on strategic trade issues such as policy development, regulation or regional integration). This brings the collective amount to nearly €3 billion, well above the target to spend €2 billion per year on Trade Related Assistance from 2010. Sub-Saharan Africa is the main beneficiary of EU Trade Related Assistance, with its share of collective EU Trade Related Assistance increasing from 15% to 28% between 2008 and 2009.

Bill Gates calls for maintaining the budget for development aid

Mercredi 25 janvier 2012

Bill Gates calls for holding 0.7% of gross national income the budget of development aid for the next programming.

Mr Gates stressed that he cites the EU approach to development as an example when urging Chinese leaders or the US Congress to step up their development aid to the same level.

“Whether you like it or not, you are the leader in development aid and it is very unlikely we can do without this example if Europe does not continue its upward push. This is particularly important as you are looking at your 7-year budget. I know you have some difficult trade-offs to make because of the economic situation, but the money you devote to development will have a huge impact in the world”, said Mr Gates.

Speaking as co-chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Gates offered “living proof” that development aid “works” to save lives in the world’s poorest countries. “I think this picture is more beautiful than any European anthem”, he said, presenting a graph showing that child deaths have fallen from 20 million to under 8 million in the past 50 years.

Mr Gates also noted that vaccines are an inexpensive way to save millions of lives, citing a 99% reduction in polio cases since 1988.

MEPs were almost unanimous in their praise of this presentation, although some criticized the Gates Foundation’s links to Monsanto, a biotech company that is trying to introduce hybrid seeds in Africa.

Catherine Grèze (Greens, FR), asked “we know that the majority of African countries are against GMOs. Is it true that one of the objectives of research centre financed by foundation is to pave the way to change the laws so that cotton GMOs can be introduced in Kenya, even knowing that one of the major concerns of developing countries is losing control of their own seeds?”

Mr Gates replied that Monsanto was currently working on a project to develop royalty-free drought resistant maize, and that since all African leaders are certainly against starvation and malnutrition, it was about time that they looked into new tools. “Seeds that are dramatically more drought resistant will benefit thousands of lives”, he insisted.

Parliament’s President Martin Schulz said he was “deeply impressed and fascinated” by the work of the Gates Foundation and stressed that EU has a moral duty to show international solidarity, given that it accounts 8% of the global population, but 30% of global wealth.

“We have to deliver on our promises if we do not want to risk our credibility and I hope that, irrespective of political colours in this house, Parliament will stand shoulder to shoulder with the aims of Gates Foundation”, said Mr Schulz.

Sahel Food Crisis

Mardi 17 janvier 2012

Commissioner Georgieva declares the state of emergency.

The European Union’s Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva arrives in Niger today amid a looming crisis in Africa’s Sahel region. The Commissioner is responding to calls for assistance from the affected countries.

During a four-day visit to the region she will visit Niger and Chad, two of the five Sahel countries (including Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania) most at risk of major food shortages over the coming months.

“Nobody should have to live in fear of famine yet within months people will begin to starve unless we act,” said the Commissioner. “This is the third time in a decade that this region has fallen into crisis. Every year we save more than 200,000 children from severe acute malnutrition but we must and will go further.”

The Commissioner said that, as in the last major crisis in 2010, by anticipating the worst effects of the looming food shortages and acting before they strike more lives would be saved.”I am here this week to make sure that we deliver smart aid, targeting the most vulnerable and delivered in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.”

She will be evaluating humanitarian needs with the authorities and the European Commission’s current response to the crisis as well as identifying the potential needs for further assistance.

Because crops failed in last September’s harvest the annual ‘lean season’ – when food reserves have dwindled – will begin next month instead of June. Seven million people are already facing shortages. Food prices have already risen by 40 per cent, with some forecasts predicting that they will triple with the onset of the lean season.

The Commission has been working to mitigate future crises by establishing an innovative programme through its partners. This programme currently treats more than 200,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in the Sahel and is working to achieve a permanent and sustainable solution to the region’s chronic food security problems.

Commissioner Georgieva added: “The Commission has provided more than €225 million since 2005. But we want to go further and break the cycle of hunger. In the current crisis we’ve already allocated more than €100 million to fight hunger and we are working closely with other agencies to build a comprehensive aid strategy to cover both the short and long-term actions required to make malnutrition history.”

Background
Approximately 22.9 million people are beginning 2012 with huge uncertainty about how they will feed themselves and their families.

The Sahel suffers from a chronic malnutrition crisis but the prospects of a full-scale disaster this year have already been signalled with the governments of all five countries taking the unprecedented step of declaring emergencies and calling for international assistance. Early, effective and coordinated action by the Sahel governments supported by the international community can reduce the risk of it turning into a major disaster.

Most people who live in the Sahel are heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture and livestock for survival. Food production deficits are as high as 52% in comparison to last year while an estimated 1.3 million children in the region are currently suffering from acute severe malnutrition.

The Commission has been at the forefront of the humanitarian response to malnutrition in the Sahel since 2007 when a specific ECHO Sahel Plan was adopted to raise awareness of nutrition issues, demonstrate the effectiveness of nutrition action and advocate for an enhanced focus on nutrition issues.

2 years after, aid in Haiti continues

Mardi 10 janvier 2012

Two after the disaster, the European Union will launch a new aid package for the construction of houses destined for 60,000 homeless.

This new €23 million programme will be implemented together with local communities, the municipalities and the Haitian Ministry for Public Works. It is a part the part of the European Commission’s action to support the country to recover from the disaster which claimed the lives of more than 220,000 people and affected 3 million others. The two years that followed the earthquake were no less challenging – Haiti was affected by Hurricane Tomas and is suffering from the worst cholera epidemics of the past century. The years ahead will not be easy either, but the long-term goals of stability and development are still fully valid to address Haiti’s situation.

The European Union has been among the first, the most generous and the most efficient donors of aid and civil protection support to Haiti in the past two years. Its assistance aims both to bring immediate relief to Haitians and to ensure long-term recovery of their country. To date, Europeans’ solidarity has alleviated the suffering of 5 million people in Haiti, has prevented the crisis from deteriorating further and has limited the disaster’s twin side-effects: cholera and malnutrition.

At present, the European Commission focuses its support on building strong links between relief, rehabilitation and development, most notably by ensuring the functioning of the State, improving education, health services and civil security, rebuilding roads, shelters and other vital infrastructure, and stimulating the local economy.

Background
During the last two years, the EU has been providing both humanitarian assistance and development aid to rebuild Haiti. The EU is the largest donor to the country: it pledged €1.2 billion to assist Haitian government in all areas over both the short and the long-term. The Commission alone pledged €522 million and has committed more than €358 million.

EU Member States have pledged a total of €201 million in emergency relief, while the European Commission has given €158.5 million in humanitarian aid throughout 2010 and 2011. In 2012 the Commission has set aside €15.25 million in humanitarian aid for Haiti.

The EU is reviewing its trade priorities with the Balkans

Lundi 2 janvier 2012

Trade between the EU and the Western Balkans should grow by 2015. Member countries of the EU took advantage of the new year to review its trade preferences for the period.

The European Union today re-established the exceptional autonomous trade preferences, which it grants to all Western Balkan countries including Kosovo, until the end of 2015. Western Balkan economies will therefore continue as of 1 January 2011 to benefit from an unlimited duty-free access to the EU market for nearly all products originating in these countries and territories. Together with the bilateral Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAAs) in place with all Western Balkan countries except Kosovo, these trade preferences support economic integration with the EU and hence foster political stability and economic progress in the entire region.

The autonomous trade preferences should allow all Western Balkan countries to further benefit from the preferential trade regime, where this is more beneficial than the treatment foreseen in the SAAs. It should notably allow the customs territory of Kosovo to benefit from the current duty-free, quota-free treatment for almost all its exported products, since it does not have an SAA with the EU. Total exports of Kosovo to the EU amounted to about €147 mio in 2010.

Background
In 2000 the European Union established for the first time exceptional unlimited duty-free access to the EU market for nearly all products originating in the Western Balkan region (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo) in Regulation (EC) No 2007/2000). Only wine, sugar, certain beef products and certain fisheries products enter the EU under preferential tariff quotas, as negotiated under the SAAs. The regime was renewed in 2005, and due to expire on 31 December 2010.

Therefore, on 22 February 2010, the Commission proposed to extend this autonomous preferential regime until 31 December 2015. The European Parliament voted in favour of the Commission’s proposal on 13 October 2011 and the Council adopted it on 24 November 2011. The tariff reductions under the new Regulation amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009, adopted today, are applied retroactively to allow exporters to claim compensation for the duties paid in 2011.

The European Union is committed more than ever to the Millennium Development Goals

Mercredi 21 décembre 2011

Additional support was given to 36 ACP countries in the fight against hunger, child mortality, maternal health and providing access to water.

This additional funding will focus on reducing hunger and child mortality and securing better maternal health and drinking water and sanitation facilities. With today’s decision the EU is delivering on its €1 billion MDG initiative, announced in September 2010, at the UN MDGs Summit in New York.

Examples of actions to be financed under the MDG initiative include:
- ensuring better access to food for the poorest households in Haiti
- providing milk to children in nurseries and primary schools in Rwanda
- increasing the number of healthcare professionals in Ghana to reduce maternal mortality
- improving access to save water in Samoa, mainly through rainwater harvesting and better sanitation facilities
The MDG initiative focuses on those African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries that have designed projects of high quality to achieve results in the areas where progress is most needed: hunger, water and sanitation, maternal health and child mortality. Today’s allocation amounts to 700€ million. Project proposals have been identified in partnership with the respective countries and are fully results-oriented: they put clear and measurable indicators in place to secure the benefits of the additional money.

Background
The MDG Initiative

The MDG initiative mobilises money from one of the EU’s main instruments of development aid, the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). It envisages a total extra financial effort of €1 billion. Regarding today’s allocation of €700 million, the European Commission and the EU delegations, in coordination with EU Member States representations and national authorities in the partner countries, will soon start working on the preparation of detailed project designs and specific financing proposals for all the actions to be supported by the MDG initiative, with a view to starting the implementation of most projects by the end of 2012. (For a full list of countries and targeted MDGs, see MEMO/11/930).

In parallel to today’s decision, approximately €300 million of the MDG initiative are in the process of being allocated as a reward to 18 well-performing countries, in the framework of the 10th EDF Mid-term Review.

Progress on the MDGs
The UN Millennium Goals Report 2011 confirms that the world has made significant progress on some of the goals. By 2015, global poverty is currently expected to fall below 15%, which is well below the target of 23%. Increased funding and intensive control efforts have led to a reduction of 20% of global deaths from malaria; HIV infections have been declining steadily and the availability of retroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS has increased massively in recent years. Important steps have been made globally towards providing universal primary education.

The European Commission supports the Arab Spring with Erasmus Mundus

Vendredi 16 décembre 2011

Under Erasmus Mundus, the Commission has doubled the grant to the Maghreb and the Middle East countries.

Funding for a further 559 scholarships, on top of the 525 that were already planned for 2011-2012, are being allocated to Southern Mediterranean countries through ‘Erasmus Mundus’, the international version of the European Commission’s Erasmus student and staff exchange scheme. The recipients will be able to spend part of their studies, research or a teaching period in the European Union. The Commission is increasing its grant funding to encourage learning and training opportunities for individuals who are viewed as key to strengthening democracy in the region. The move is part of the EU’s strategic response to the Arab Spring.

Erasmus Mundus is open to applicants from all over the world, including the European Union. Since the launch of the scheme in 2004, more than 12 000 students, 300 doctoral candidates and 2 000 professors have received scholarships for joint Master’s degree courses or doctorate programmes.

In the 2011-2012 academic year, around 6 000 students and researchers from 150 countries have already received scholarships worth a total of €210 million. The Commission has provided an additional €10 million to fund the extra 559 scholarships for countries in the Southern Mediterranean. These countries are expected to benefit from further increases in funding for Erasmus Mundus scholarships and grants in 2012-13.

Over three-quarters of the grants offered through Erasmus Mundus since 2004 have been awarded to people in non-EU countries, including more than 3 000 from North Africa and the Middle East. The size of the scholarship depends on the length of study or training period, the educational level of the candidate and the country of origin. Non-Europeans studying in the European Union receive at least €1000 per month towards their living costs while European students studying outside Europe receive at least €500 per month.

Background

There are three broad target groups for Erasmus Mundus funding: students undertaking joint Master’s courses and doctorates, partnerships between universities; and projects aimed at promoting the European higher education sector.

Joint Master’s courses and doctorates

A consortium of at least three higher education institutions in Europe or beyond can apply for EU funding to offer scholarships to students enrolling on a joint Master’s degree course or doctorate. The programmes must demonstrate outstanding academic quality and include obligatory study and research periods in at least two universities. A ‘joint degree’ is an integrated study programme offered by at least two higher education institutions resulting in a single degree certificate. Students are awarded scholarships based on criteria set by the universities concerned.

More than 160 higher education institutions currently participate in joint programmes, including 25 institutions in non-EU countries. 131 joint Master’s degree courses and 34 joint doctorate programmes will be open for scholarship applications in 2012-2013, covering a wide range of subjects, from chemistry to computing and from criminology to choreography.

Erasmus Mundus partnerships

Grants are also provided through Erasmus Mundus partnerships. These enable students, researchers and staff to visit partner institutions abroad to study or teach for a period of between three months and three years. In July 2011, 46 new partnerships were selected for funding, with 369 EU and 450 non-EU universities involved. Consortia must include a minimum of five higher education institutions from at least three European countries and higher education institutions from non-EU countries. Special attention is given to disadvantaged groups and people in a vulnerable situation.

Promotion of European higher education

Support is also provided for projects that advance cooperation or promote the attractiveness of the European higher education sector. In 2011 seven such projects were selected, involving more than 100 non-EU partners, covering themes such as climate change, architecture and cultural tourism, and/or a strong regional focus.

Erasmus for All

Erasmus Mundus will be integrated into the Commission’s proposed new programme for education, training, youth and sport – Erasmus for All – which is due to be launched in 2014 (see IP/11/1398).

The European Commission strengthens consular protection

Mercredi 14 décembre 2011

The Commission has proposed to strengthen assistance to citizens in crisis situations in third countries.

The aim is to ease cooperation between consular authorities and strengthen European citizens’ right to consular protection. EU citizens abroad have the right to ask for assistance from a consulate or an embassy of another EU Member State when their Member State is not represented in the country. EU Member States must also help citizens evacuate as if they were their own nationals. Today’s proposals will strengthen these rights by clarifying when a citizen is considered not represented and specifying the type of assistance Member States typically provide in cases of need, such as arrest, serious accident or lost documents. The Commission has also developed an interactive website on consular protection, which lists the contact details of all EU Member States’ embassies and consulates outside the EU – searchable either by EU nationality or by country.

Recent major crises have highlighted the importance of consular protection outside the EU. Around 150,000 EU citizens were affected by the crises in Libya and Egypt after the democratic uprisings in spring 2011 and following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Many were assisted by other EU countries’ consulates or embassies where their own country was not (or was no longer) represented. The right to consular protection also applies in day-to-day situations, such as when a holidaymaker is seriously ill or falls victim to a crime.

The Commission’s proposed legislation aims to provide a stable framework for cooperation and coordination among Member States. It clarifies that EU citizens are considered as unrepresented when an embassy or consulate of their own Member State is not ‘accessible’, meaning that they cannot reach it and return to where they started at least the same day. The proposal also specifies to what extent citizens’ non-EU family members are eligible for help. It provides how assistance should be coordinated with the citizens’ home Member States. In crisis situations, the new rules promote the role of the ‘lead’ Member State that is in charge of coordinating and leading assistance of unrepresented EU citizens.

Background
In 2009, consular protection was provided by Member States’ consuls in 300,000 cases. Every year, 5.12 million EU citizens travel to countries outside the EU where their home Member State is not represented and a further 1.74 million EU citizens live in such countries. EU citizens are also increasingly exposed to crisis situations, both natural and man-made.

The EU Treaties guarantee all EU citizens the right to equal treatment regarding protection from the diplomatic and consular authorities of any Member State when they are travelling or living outside the EU and their own country is not represented (see Articles 20(2)(c) and 23 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union; Article 46 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights). In almost all countries in the world, at least one EU state is not represented. The only three countries where all 27 EU Member States are represented are the United States, China and Russia.

In its Citizenship Report of October 2010 (see IP/10/1390 and MEMO/10/525), the Commission committed to increasing the effectiveness of EU citizens’ right to be assisted in third countries, including in times of crisis, by the diplomatic and consular authorities of all Member States, by proposing legislative measures and by better informing citizens via a dedicated website and targeted communication measures (action 8).

In its Communication of March 2011 (see IP/11/355 and MEMO/11/185), the Commission also announced that within the next 12 months it would present legislation to establish the coordination and cooperation measures necessary to facilitate consular protection for unrepresented EU citizens.

The European Commission proposes to strengthen the coordination of border surveillance

Mardi 13 décembre 2011

EUROSUR program aims to reduce serious crime and the number of migrants who die at sea

Under the EUROSUR mechanism, Member States’ authorities responsible for border surveillance (border guards, coast guards, police, customs and navies) will be able to exchange operational information and cooperate with each other, with Frontex and with neighbouring countries. The increased exchange of information and the use of modern surveillance technology introduced by EUROSUR can also be vital for saving the lives of migrants attempting to reach the shores of EU Member States in small and unseaworthy boats that are very difficult to track.

The exchange of information in the framework of EUROSUR will take the form of ’situational pictures’, which can be described as graphical interfaces presenting data, information and intelligence. These situational pictures will be established at national and European level and will be structured in a similar way to facilitate the flow of information among them. In order to improve the capability of detecting small vessels, Frontex will also set up a service for the common application of surveillance tools, combining, among other things, satellite imagery with information derived from ship reporting systems.

This will increase the possibility of identifying and tracking down the routes used by criminal networks. The fact that traffickers are currently using small wooden and glass-fibre boats for smuggling both human beings and illicit drugs poses a major challenge to law enforcement authorities because it is extremely difficult to detect, identify and track such small boats on the high seas.

Background
Currently in some Member States, up to six different authorities are directly involved in the surveillance of maritime borders, sometimes operating parallel surveillance systems, without clear rules and workflows for cooperation and information exchange among them. Furthermore, in the field of border surveillance there is not only a lack of coordination inside some Member States, but also between Member States, due to the absence of proper procedures, networks or communication channels for the exchange of information.

EUROSUR will bolster information exchange and cooperation between Member States’ border control authorities as well as with Frontex. For this purpose, each Member State with land and maritime external borders will have to establish a national coordination centre for border surveillance, which will exchange information with other national coordination centres and Frontex via a protected communication network.

In 2008, the Commission adopted a Communication examining the creation of a European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) and set out a roadmap for the development, testing and implementation of the system (MEMO/08/86).

Accordingly, Member States are currently setting up national coordination centres for border surveillance, which will be the single point of contact for real-time data, information and intelligence exchange between border guards, coast guards, police and other national authorities as well as with Frontex and other national coordination centres.

In November 2011, Frontex interlinked on a pilot basis with the first six national coordination centres1 via a protected communication network. The remaining national coordination centres of Member States will be connected in 2012 and 2013.

Together with Member States and other EU agencies, Frontex is currently developing the other components of EUROSUR, which focus in particular on the detection of small vessels used for smuggling human beings as well as drug trafficking.

Today’s Regulation will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council with a view to making EUROSUR operational by the end of 2013.

The priority given to EUROSUR was confirmed by the European Council in June 2011, which asked for the system to be further developed as a matter of priority in order to become operational by 2013 (IP/11/781).

This Regulation forms part of the integrated border management of the external borders and the Internal Security Strategy of the EU (IP/10/1535 and MEMO/10/598).

In order to improve the control of external borders, the Commission has already proposed to strengthen the overall governance of the Schengen area (for the ‘Schengen package’, see IP/11/1036 and MEMO/11/606) and to set up a more modern and efficient management of traveller flows at its external borders (for the ‘Smart Borders’ initiative see IP/11/1234 and MEMO/11/728).

The European Commission defends freedom of expression on the Web.

Lundi 12 décembre 2011

The new strategy “No Disconnect” is to ensure that ICT remains a factor in democratic and economic development in the world.

VP/HR Catherine Ashton and Vice President Neelie Kroes want to ensure that the European Union and its Member States cooperate closely towards these goals, supporting bottom-up approaches to building and strengthening Internet freedom and democracy in countries where Europe perceives that a vibrant and open Internet is not the norm or where grave human rights abuses take place. Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg will liaise with Member States, third countries and NGOs which are committed to work in this area and advise on how to advance the strategy in a co-ordinated and effective manner.

The “No Disconnect strategy” will assist people in four ways:

- Developing and providing technological tools to enhance privacy and security of people living in non-democratic regimes when using ICT.
- Educating and raising awareness of activists about the opportunities and risks of ICT. In particular assisting activists to make best use of tools such as social networks and blogs while raising awareness of surveillance risks when communicating via ICT.
- Gathering high quality intelligence about what is happening “on the ground” in order to monitor the level of surveillance and censorship at a given time, in a given place.
- Cooperation. Developing a practical way to ensure that all stakeholders can share information on their activity and promote multilateral action and building cross-regional cooperation to protect human rights.

Background
The Joint Communication, “A Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean” (COM(2011) 200) committed the Commission to develop tools to allow the EU, in appropriate cases, to assist civil society organisations or individual citizens to circumvent arbitrary disruptions to access to electronic communications technologies, including the internet. This followed evidence of such disruption or attempted disruption by authoritarian governments during the Arab Spring uprising, for example in Egypt.

Enabling citizens of authoritarian countries to bypass such surveillance and censorship measures depends on two basic conditions: availability of appropriate technologies (in particular software programs that can be installed on one’s desktop computer, laptop, smart-phone or other device) and awareness / knowledge, both of the techniques used by authoritarian regimes to spy on citizens and censor their communications, and of the appropriate counter-measures to use.