Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Fifth Report






Draft Council Conclusions for the preparation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 26 August - 4 September 2002).

Legal base:



International Development

Basis of consideration:

Official letter of 28 June 2002

Previous Committee Report:

HC 152-xxix (2001-02), paragraph 1 (15 May 2002)

Discussed in Council:

30 May Development Council

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:

For debate in European Standing Committee B (decision reported on 15 May 2002)




    1. The draft Conclusions set out positions on the environment, development and trade issues which will be discussed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in South Africa from 26 August to 4 September. The Secretary of State for International Development (Claire Short) commented in her Explanatory Memorandum on them of 29 April that the UK's strategic objective was "making globalisation work for all, especially for the poorest". Priorities for action include freshwater, sanitation and energy. She said that the draft Conclusions reflected these objectives well.
    2. The draft Conclusions recalled the EU's decision that its Strategy for Sustainable Development should be complemented by an external dimension. This Strategy was included in the draft Conclusions. The Strategy was described by the Minister as not just an action plan for the EU, but also an essential contribution to the WSSD.
    3. We considered the draft Conclusions on 15 May 2002 and recommended them for debate in European Standing Committee B. On receiving the text of the Conclusions as adopted at the 30 May Development Council[20], we noted that the text had been substantially augmented. We therefore asked the Department to summarise the major changes and to comment on them.
    4. The Department's letter

    5. The Department notes that the draft Conclusions on which the debate was recommended were an early draft and that the Conclusions adopted on 30 May are significantly more detailed. The broad changes can be summarised as:

"—  a clearer distinction between the external dimension of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy and the specific priorities for action at the World Summit on Sustainable Development;

    • greater detail throughout the Conclusions, and particularly on the actions that the EU is committed to, in order to contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable development internationally;

    • inclusion of explicit references to action on sustainable patterns of consumption and production, reflecting the fact that this is an important part of the WSSD agenda."

    1. Reflecting the fact that the agenda for the Summit is broad and the EU needs to be specific in the actions it proposes, the Conclusions are lengthy. The Department picks out the following key points:

"—  the centrality of poverty reduction and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals to the achievement of sustainable development;

    • on trade and market access, the importance of completing successfully and on time the work launched under the Doha Development Agenda;

    • on finance, the importance of increasing overseas development assistance and focusing it on poverty reduction, and the need to ensure a successful third replenishment of the Global Environment Facility;

    • on partnerships and initiatives at the Summit, the importance of national poverty reduction strategies as the basis of action for sustainable development. This reflects the fact that the primary responsibility for sustainable development lies with countries themselves."

Developments since 30 May

    1. The letter then comments on two important developments since the Development Council Conclusions were adopted:

    • at the final preparatory meeting for the World Summit which took place in Bali, Indonesia from 27 May to 7 June, some progress was achieved in agreeing the Programme of Action which will be finalised in Johannesburg. But the Government recognises that much hard work is still needed if the Summit is to succeed;

    • the Seville European Council on 21-22 June endorsed the Development Council Conclusions and re-emphasised the importance the EU attaches to the WSSD. The Council expressed the EU's willingness to continue playing a leading role in the preparations of the Summit, with a view to reaching a global deal, building upon earlier successful steps, at Monterrey on financing for development, and at Doha on trade.





    1. We are grateful to the Department for International Development for this update, which will allow the debate in European Standing Committee B to be informed by the fuller and final text of the Conclusions. As the debate takes place within a few days, we have not tagged it, but we have asked the Government to include the letter and attachment in the papers distributed for the debate.
    2. We clear the document.


20  Not formally deposited. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 19 July 2002