This was at the opening of the 20th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo - DRC), in the presence of DRC President Joseph Kabila. African, Caribbean and Pacific MPs and MEPs will also debate insecurity in the Sahara/Sahel strip and the strategy to reduce maternal mortality in Africa.
At the opening address to members of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), Co-President Louis Michel (ALDE, BE) said: "I urge the European Union to develop a law similar to the American bill which will help to heal the international market. It is still incomprehensible that the countries with richest resources are those whose populations are the poorest". Yet, he added, "It is not enough to give lessons to countries with resources, we must also assume our own responsibilities".
Mr Michel advocated a similar instrument to the American Frank-Dodd Act, recently passed by Congress, which requires all companies listed on Wall Street as oil, gas and mining companies to publicly disclose their income and tax payments.
"Such disclosure would have a deterrent effect on corruption and illicit financial flows that result in many countries, which despite being rich in natural resources end up with a huge loss of resources, worsening conflicts and deep poverty". The co-president added in this line that companies operating in developing countries should also adopt a certain "moral code".
Elections in Ivory Coast
Michel said he was very concerned about the possible deterioration of the situation in Ivory Coast, after the deadline passed for the statutory publication of the second round of elections. He also wondered about the reasons of "abrupt departure" from the election observation mission of the EU in the country.
A key debate at the 20th session will be on the situation of the media. Mr Michel referred to the draft resolution to be voted on Saturday and which is set to denounce the decline in press freedom both in Europe and Africa. "Having a free and professional media is always preferable to the 'rumours' that often replace the press when it is muzzled", he said.
ACP Co-President David Matongo (Zambia) replied that "responsible press - and let me stress that only responsible press - should be part of the democratization process in African countries".
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA)
Matongo also stressed his concern about the negotiations of EPAs (Economic Partnership Agreements, aiming to create a free trade area between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries). "We are concerned about the lack of flexibility that is necessary from the EU side to facilitate progress in the negotiations", he said and added: "any EPA without a development agenda would be detrimental to speedy economic development and slow the process of regional integration of ACP States".
DRC President Joseph Kabila, National Assembly speaker Evariste Boshab and Governor of Kinsasha André Kimbuta were also key guests at the opening ceremony.
Coming debates and resolutions
The various facets of insecurity in the Sahara/Sahel strip - terrorism and trafficking in drugs, arms and human beings -, the need to relaunch the Millennium goal of reducing maternal mortality, the issue of food security and the situation of DRC, Madagascar, Somalia, Sudan, Haiti and Zimbabwe will be the focus of debate at the 20th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, which is being held in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) from 2 to 4 December 2010.
Three resolutions will be voted during this year's session. These are:
1.Achieving the MDGs: innovative responses to meet the social and economic challenges, Co-rapporteurs: Mr Odirile Motlhale (Botswana) and Ms Licia Ronzulli (EPP, IT), Debate: 3 December, Vote: 4 December
2.Free and Independent Media, Co-rapporteurs: Mr Jean Rodolphe Joazile (Haiti) and Mr Rainer Wieland (EPP, DE), Debate: 3 December, Vote: 4 December
3.Post-Copenhagen: technology transfer, new technologies and technical capacity building in the ACP countries, Co-rapporteurs: Mrs Marlene Malahoo Forte (Jamaica) and Mr Jo Leinen (S&D, DE), Debate: 3 December, Vote: 4 December
Twice a year 78 Members of the European Parliament and 78 national members of parliament from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries meet to provide parliamentary scrutiny of European Union development policy.