By Alain Rodríguez García, Caritas Europa
Lesley-Ann Knight, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis , delivered a speech yesterday during the Opening Session of the 5th edition of the European Development Days that are being hold in Brussels on 6-7 December.
Ms. Knight shared the floor with a series of European and international personalities such as Belgium’s Prime Minister Yves Letterme, European Commission President Joao Manuel Barroso, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Nepal’s Prime Minister Madhav Kumar.
Starting with a clear reminder of Caritas’ preferential option for the poor, Ms. Knight talked about the dire reality in which the have-nots are living across the world. She mentioned the fact that 50% of global migration is composed of women and girls, who face terrible dangers when attempting to reach the dream of a better life. She also reminded the forum that poverty is everywhere, even in the richest of the countries such as the United States, Japan and the European Union (EU).
Ms. Knight welcomed the EU’s initiative to lift 20 million people out of poverty by 2020. She also strongly encouraged all Member States to commit to this goal through their national action plans.
Acknowledging that the roots of poverty are “fed by political and economic choices in both North and South,” Ms. Knight encouraged the EU to consider the impact of some EU policies as root to poverty: “We only need to consider (…) the impact of EU agricultural subsidies on poor communities world-wide with the crisis of hunger and food insecurity, as just one example.”
Among other solutions to tackle the existing economic and environmental crisis, Ms. Knight made a plea for a global financial transaction tax, which “concerns taxing harmful speculation, food and energy commodities and financing climate mitigation and adaptation.” She also seized the occasion to renew the Caritas and CIDSE call to the EU to walk the talk in this matter: “Caritas and CIDSE (…) are challenging the EU to move the discussion from feasibility to implementation. And I am pleased to note that key actors in this debate are here on the stage with me.”
Caritas firmly believes that Europeans do care about the rest of the world. Caritas encourages the EU to continue the work undertaken all along this year 2010 to tackle poverty and deliver concrete action to eradicate global poverty and create a more just world.