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SPEECH/11/235

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Bill Gates

Press opportunity

Strasbourg, 5 April 2011

I just had an excellent meeting with Bill Gates.

The European Commission and the Gates Foundation share a fundamental goal: Helping developing nations tackling global challenges.

The EU is the world's largest donor, with € 50 billion euro per year, of which the Commission itself contributes 13.5 billion - which makes it individually the second biggest donor in the world.

And our aid has been consistent over the years, with a commitment for Official Development Aid (ODA) to reach 0.7% of GNI by 2015.

But it is not just the quantity of aid that matters – it is the quality of aid and the coordination and effectiveness of projects that count in the end.

That is why we are working more closely with the private sector and big, important foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I believe this is crucial.

Let me give a couple of examples:

First, on agriculture:

We agreed to team up with the Gates Foundation to invest in strategic and regional programs in Africa.

We will, for instance, develop “Agricultural Corridors” in Africa to improve both the production and the flow of agricultural products to regional and world markets.

Agriculture and food security will remain priority areas. We have to react forcefully to the food prices’ hikes to avoid a new food crisis.

In addition to the 1 billion euro Food Facility that I've proposed some time ago and the Commission set up, we are helping developing countries to improve their agricultural systems and through increasing transparency in spot and financial markets.

Secondly, and I know this is a matter which is very dear to Bill Gates, we will do more together on global health, to work stronger together:

The Commission's global health budget is already substantial: around 700 million euro – around 1 billion dollars – per year, by which we support national health systems and projects in more than 80 countries.

This will be topped up in the coming years by around 1/3 of the special 1 Billion Initiative for MDGs which I announced last September in New York.

In particular, the lack of vaccines is a silent scourge killing millions of people worldwide. We must and we can stop this!

That is why the Commission is implementing a clinical trials program to translate medical research into new medicines and vaccines against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

This program is worth € 200 million euro. The Gates Foundation has generously contributed to it – an excellent example of our partnership. So far, we have 54 clinical trials in Africa that deliver care and protection to the people.

We are also working together on the Global Alliance for vaccines and Immunizations -GAVI.

I thanked Bill Gates for his great commitment to GAVI's mission. The Commission itself has since 2003 committed €73.4 million to GAVI. And we will step up our contribution in the June pledging conference.

Development cooperation will not succeed without the support of our citizens. We must be accountable and transparent. At the same time, we should not be shy in showing our successes.

I am therefore happy to announce that the Commission will participate in the "Living Proof" project.

I think it is extremely important for our citizens to understand that what they are doing in terms of generosity has an effect. We know that we are living in very difficult times of budget constraints, but it is important to keep the commitment of our governments and also of our societies.

So let me once again thank Bill and, indeed Bill and Melinda for their optimism, determination, their enormous generosity and their tireless work. I look forward to continuing our cooperation.

Thank you.


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