An overview of the 2015 European Year of Development

EU policy has been developing over the past decade to foster intensive growth inside the Union. At the same time, EC has put hard effort to develop an effective and visible foreign policy and external action. In the light of this, it is essential to point 2015 European Year of Development as a keystone of the EC new successful role to create, maintain, and practically implement a vital action outside of the Union.
2015 European Year of Development makes Europe a major player at the international scene. The initiatives included provide for EU to be not only involved with world-effect projects, but it also transforms EU experience into practical programs launched to support sustainable growth in the developing countries. Now Europe, built upon the principles of solidarity and humanism, shows to the world its primary role as developer, missionary, end evolution instrument to help others, thus contributing to the world balance, social inclusion, environment protection, and global economic perspective.
The European Year for Development 2015 is the first year designated with such a global theme, since European years have been designated thematically since 1983. The initiative originated in Latvia. The European Year for Development 2015 took place in Riga on 8 January, as part of the events marking the beginning of the first Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The second half of the European Year for Development is happening now, during the Luxembourg presidency. CONCORD Europe, the European NGO Confederation for Relief and Development was instrumental for the launch of the “European Year for Development 2015”. The initiative is seminal in terms of events and decisions – for example, the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December, as well as the expected decisions concerning the post-2015 development agenda.
Commission representatives, communication experts, as well as figures from the NGO and business sector all agreed that the European Year for Development 2015 is providing an opportunity to reach out to a wider public regarding the importance of the development agenda. Possible new alliances are being sought with youth and women's organisations, local authorities, and unions.
A study made by Weber-Shandwick highlighted the fact that a new “swing” audience could be reached, especially if messages are better thought. As an example, “self-reliance” or “empowering women” works better than goals such as “ending poverty”, which act like trigger for sceptics. People aged 15-24 are showing the highest degree of openness to international development, and that they were among the “swingers” the 2015 campaign was trying to reach. The campaign is aiming to reach audiences in new member states, mostly Central European countries that haven’t been very involved in development activities up to now. Key broadsheets and broadcasters in all member countries are participating in the campaign.
The various events during the European Year of Development focus on 12 themes. The month of January is dedicated to the theme “Europe in the world”, February focuses on “Education”, March on “Women and Girls”, April on “Health”, May on “Peace and Security”, June of “Sustainable green growth, decent jobs and businesses”, July on “Children and youth”, August on “Humanitarian aid”, September on “Demography and migration”, October on “Food security”, November on “Sustainable development and climate action” and December on “Human rights and governance”.
Among the major events of the European Year of Development are a Belgian opening event with Bozar and Africalia held on 17 January, a gender event in Latvia on 2 March, the European Development Days on 2-3 June, as well as a closing event by the Luxembourg presidency on December 8th . In addition, the Committee of the Regions conducts another major event, called “Assises of Decentralised Cooperation”, on 1-2 June in Brussels, with 1000 participants, many of whom come from developing countries. The thematic year is proposed by the Commission and adopted by the European Parliament and EU member governments. The European Year of Development 2015 is a key opportunity to raise awareness of development across Europe, and to show European taxpayers know that every euro spent on development benefits both people living in some of the world's poorest countries, and EU citizens themselves.
It is essential to underline the effective role of EuropeAid in terms of providing support to developing countries, managing programs, funding projects and grants, broadening the circle of EU partners – both countries and organizations worldwide.
The EU and its member states have traditionally been leaders in development cooperation. Jointly, they continue to be the world's largest donor of development assistance, providing more than half of official aid worldwide (€53 billion annually in the last years).
85% of Europeans think it is important to help people in developing countries; six out of ten Europeans think that aid to developing countries should be increased. It is further estimated that up to 20 million EU citizens are involved in one way or the other in the work of development NGOs, professionally or as volunteers. And an estimated number of 130 million EU citizens make at least one financial donation each year to an organisation helping developing countries. Such statistics are clear indicators that the concept of international solidarity is still very much ‘alive’ among EU citizens. This is a powerful argument why a European Year about Development Cooperation makes sense.
And the year 2015 is a pivotal year. It is the year by which the Millennium Development Goals should have been achieved. It is also the year in which a new framework, strategy or paradigm for the decade to come should be adopted and should begin to be implemented. The EU decision to designate 2015 as the European Year for Development gives a strong boost to the on-going global process of elaborating a successor framework to the current Millennium Development Goals.
Designating the year 2015 as European Year for Development is a significant and trend-breaking decision by the EU. It would be the first time that a European Year ever focuses on external action of the EU, the impact of which largely takes place outside the borders of the EU.

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