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Brussels, 6 May 2011

Commission underlines its commitment to helping world's least developed countries out of poverty

From 9 to 11 of May José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission and Andris Piebalgs, Development Commissioner, will at a conference in Istanbul, reemphasise the European Commission's leading role in helping the world's least developed countries (LDCs) out of poverty. As the largest donor to the LDCs, with €15 billion of aid in 2010, the EU will urge other partners to match its pledge to provide 0.15-0.20% of its GNI to LDCs. It will also call for a renewed global partnership of LDCs and both developed and emerging economies, working together with civil society and the private sector, to ensure a joined up approach to helping the LDCs meet their development goals.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "The world will come together in Istanbul to accelerate the development and eradicate poverty in the poorest members of our global community. The European Union will continue to show leadership in this critical endeavour. As the world's most generous donor, we provide more than half of the global aid to our partners and have tripled our assistance the LDCs to 15 billion euro a year. This tangible European solidarity is a matter of justice, but also a strategic necessity: only through a renewed global partnership can we tackle today's challenges, from political instability to food security and climate change, and offer a perspective of a better life to millions of people."

Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, added: "LDCs are facing difficult challenges and the EU will remain at the forefront of helping them to strengthen their resilience to crisis. We will work hard to address the root causes of poverty which often lead to radicalisation and desperation of people. This is also a key to create a favourable environment for sustainable development and unlock the potential of the poorest countries on the globe. I trust that all international actors will live up to their duties and expectations."

The fourth LDC Conference, taking place from 9-13 May in Istanbul, will provide a key opportunity for donors to come together and provide renewed momentum to LDC support. Whilst many of them have made progress in their development, that progress has been uneven and Millennium Development Goals are still lagging behind in many of them. That is why the EU undertook to provide 0.15-0.20% of its Gross National Product (GNP) to the LDCs in November 2008. It has already made significant progress on this target - currently 0.13% of EU Gross National Income (GNI) goes as aid to LDCs. However, in order to help more countries move out of LDC status, other donors must do the same. Moreover, emerging economies like Brazil, China and India should also provide their fair share of assistance to the LDCs.

The Commission will therefore call for a reinforcement of the global partnership to help the LDCs. Developed countries, emerging economies like China, Brazil, India and South Africa, the UN system and the LDCs themselves need to working together and with regional development banks, the private sector, foundations and civil society.

The conference will look at how other countries can follow in the footsteps of Cape Verde, the Maldives and Botswana and achieve graduation status (where they meet two of the three LDC criteria or when their GNI per capita exceeds at least twice the threshold level). With only three countries having graduated so far, the EU will call for more systematic support for countries during and after the graduation process. The extension of the transition phase privileges, which the EU already uses, is one way this could be done. For example, on 3rd December 2010 the EU decided to extend Everything But Arms (EBA) duty-free and quota-free trade benefits to the Maldives for a further three years, helping to open up markets and improve growth.

Many LDCs will be among the countries hit the earliest and the hardest by climate change, either due to their location or their inability to cope with its effects. That is why the Commission will also use the conference to call for action to help those countries better adapt to it and be more able to cope with future shocks. The EU already provides support in this area through specific climate change initiatives like the fast-start financing, which it committed to in Copenhagen in 2010 (€2.4billion and €7.2 billion in total from 2010-2012) to help developing countries in adapting to climate change and in moving to low-carbon strategies. This conference is now a chance to discuss with donors what more can be done and how best we can increase financing for climate change post-2012.


Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are the poorest and weakest countries in the world, held back by weak economies and weak capacity for growth. LDCs are assessed on three criteria: per capita GDP, economic diversity and quality of life. On average, 50% of the people living in LDCs still live on less than $1.25 a day and 78% on less than $2 a day.

The European Union has always led the international community's measures to support the LDCs, especially in areas like trade and providing market access. Through its Everything But Arms initiative, for example, set up specifically to help the LDCs, they have been given 100% duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market since 1 October 2009, in everything apart from arms and ammunition, helping to open up more markets to them and more opportunities for growth as a result.

For more information and highlights of the programme:


Official website of the conference:

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:

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