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10 Jul 2009


Social Europe & Jobs

Caritas urges European policy-makers to make a difference for the poor of the world

Brussels, 9 July 2009 - The first Caritas Europa International Forum was held on 1-3 July in Soesterberg (NL). 45 participants representing 17 member organisations from all over Europe – from Norway to Italy, from Ireland to Georgia – could enjoy a filled programme of expert presentations, plenary sessions and group discussions along with a seldom seen clear sunny Dutch sky and much-needed coffee breaks.

The Caritas Europa International Forum aimes at reinforcing bridges between policy and practice, as well as between Caritas humanitarian and development work. This year’s thematic focus was on the current crises that are affecting all but none the most severely than the poor and vulnerable people in developing countries.

The topics tackled ranged from food security, climate change, economic crisis to NGO funding, effectiveness and accountability, and Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development. All sessions were opened by presentations of experts from within the Caritas network followed by discussion, with the view to share ideas, learning from each other and investigating ways to reinforce Caritas coordination.

The Forum produced a message document (see Related Documents below) addressed to European policy-makers which reflects the participants’ view and experience. In the document Caritas call on the joint efforts of international institutions, governments in Europe, European and national parliaments, Churches and civil society organisations to ensure efficient policies addressing poverty, injustices and inequalities in Europe and abroad.

Among others, Caritas asks for a broad agenda on development effectiveness that promotes sustainable positive change regarding the causes as well as the symptoms of poverty, inequality and marginalisation. European policy-makers should also reinforce the coherence of their policies in order to ensure that the impact of the action in development is not undermined by the negative effects of other policies.

Climate change affects heavily people and communities in the poorest countries and results in increasing humanitarian catastrophes. Caritas urges the the European Union and Member States to champion climate justice and to demonstrate leadership in international climate change policy negotiations, with a focus on adaptation programs as a means to reduce the risk of disasters.

The right to food is a vital basic human right. Caritas believe that this right should be at the core of all policy-making, and calls on reasserting the primacy of agricultural and food policies over trade policies, starting with an end to the policy of dumping subsidized agricultural goods produced in the North onto developing countries’ markets.

Humanitarian action is by its nature not an instrument of conflict resolution or crisis management, or a tool for fighting terrorism. Caritas emphasises that humanitarian assistance is needs-based and must comply with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, independence, and impartiality.

EU Member States must honor their commitment to dedicate 0.7% of their GNI to development aid and to improve its quality, as defined by development effectiveness. In particular, Caritas urges the EU to deepen its commitment to democratic ownership and accountability to the poor, to phase out all economic policy conditionality attached to aid, and to untie all EU aid to all countries, including food aid and technical assistance.

In order to perform their work, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) need an enabling environment and adequate funding. Caritas calls on the EU and the governments in Europe to maintain adequate direct funding for CSOs, in spite of the aid budget cuts and the great diversity of funding channels.

The message document from the International Forum will be sent as an induction to Caritas Europa’s position to the new European Parliamentarians who are member of relevant committees.

The first Caritas Europa International Forum was held in Soesterberg (NL)
on 1-3 July 2009

For more information, please contact:

Blandine Bouniol, Policy Officer for International Cooperation or
Harald Happel, Humanitarian Officer
Tel: +32 (0)2 235 26 55/235 03 93 or


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