Written by CONCORD Director, Seamus Jeffreson
Next week I have the pleasure to be in Italy as European Development ministers meet as part of the Italian EU Presidency over 14-15 July.
As the Director of CONCORD, the confederation that brings together Development NGOs from all 28 European member states, I feel it’s especially important that civil society’s voice is loud and clear during the Italian Presidency.
I’m very pleased that Italian civil society, through our platform CONCORD Italia, is already very active with a series of events planned:
    • “Feeding the planet through democracy and diversity” Florence 14 july 2014
    • For a New Narrative on Mediterranean future Florence 15
  • A new role of the private sector in Development – Governments, Companies, Civil Society: an Florence 15 July 2014
Global food security & agricultural reform
At CONCORD we have often taken a critical approach to the external impacts of the Common Agricultural Policy in developing countries. From removing export subsidies to
encouraging less reliance of imported animal feed from South America, NGOs have made the case for a more sustainable and greener agricultural policy.
It’s important that the good work of aid is not undone by the negative impact of other EU policies overseas.
CONCORD’s flagship report on EU Policy Coherence as well as our European Food Security Group play a leading role in this.
We’ve just published a new position on food security which you can find here.
I think it’s timely that CONCORD Italia is organizing an event on the topic, especially with the EXPO2015 not long away.
Personally I think there is a lot to learn from movements such as Slow Food and the strong agricultural traditions Italy has. I look forward to hearing the Italian perspective in Florence next week.
The Mediterranean situation
I recognize that many Mediterranean NGOs and citizens have found themselves in similar situations during the financial crisis with austerity hitting many organizations and economies hard.
At the same time many new social movements have emerged from Spain to Greece, and most notably in the Southern neighbourgood region in many Northern African countries
post-Arab Spring.
How can we dialogue with these new social movements? How can we bring their energy and ideas into our common cause?
I’d like to hear what our Italian colleagues think.
A major issue is also that of migration, which is obviously a very pressing issue for countries in the Mediterranean which are the first landing points of many poor people coming from developing countries.
It’s important that Europe promotes migration policies that put human rights first.
I look forward to discussing these issues at the event the 15th of July.
The private sector and development
I’ve also been asked a lot recently about CONCORD’s perspective on the new EU approach to the private sector.
In our first reaction which you can read here, we encourage safeguards to ensure that businesses behave responsibly and the interests of the poorest in developing countries are
not compromised.
The Italian Presidency has a great opportunity to listen to the voices and proposals of civil society to promote a strong European development policy that puts people and planet first.
I look forward to meeting many colleagues in Italy soon.