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close this bookGATE - 2/88 - 10 years GATE (GTZ GATE; 1988; 44 pages)
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Cartoon & reflection

© GATE-Deutsches Zentrum für Entwicklungstechnologien 1988

Drawing: Dorsi German

The Future: Our Common Task
by Katharina Focke

"One future or no future". This was the slogan used by the European Parliament in 1987 in an attempt to urge politicians, in particular, to tackle the Nord-South problems. "One future, one common task" is the similar slogan that has now been adopted for the North-SouthCampaign declared by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It is addressed above all to the general public, to increase their awareness of the problems of the south (which are also the problems of the north, and vice versa), and to strengthen their resolve to demonstrate solidarity in view of this interdependence.

It is no coincidence that interdependence and solidarity are felt particularly strongly at the European level of thinking and action where a fresh attempt is being made to get the North-South dialogue moving again - because at present it is "bogged down".

Europe, and especially the European community, can experience and identify interdependence more strongly and more tangibly than in a tangled knot of bilateral relations. Solidarity becomes more important and is of a quite different quality if it transcends the trends of national policy and becomes a guide for action for an entire region of the world The European Community was born of an awareness of the interdependence of its member states, and hence of solidarity. Interdependence, and the need for solidarity between the EC and the South, are far greater than, for example, between the USA and the South, the USSR and the South, or Japan and the South.

The interdependence between the South and the world's largest trading partner, the EC, with its export-oriented economy, its willingness to import and its need for raw materials, is greater than that of the USA, which enjoys greater autonomy as an economic region, or of the USSR, and even Japan. The level of international debt makes Europe, like the South, more vulnerable than the USA. For its part the USA has done much to increase this indebtedness through its budget and trade deficits.

Europe and the South are equally affected by their dependence on the dollar. It is above all Europe and the South which suffer - each in its own way- from the East-West confrontation and the gigantic over-armament of the two superpowers. The policy of growth at any price and competition with the dictates of the world market is a dangerous challenge, for both Europe and the South. This is because Europe is neither willing nor able to sacrifice its ideals, its achievements and its goals as regards the quality of life and social justice. And because the South, in order to be free to choose its own course of development and evolve its own identity, must not be at the mercy of the "free interplay of forces", i.e. the conditions imposed by the North. It has to catch up to create structures that are more just, and it needs assistance and protection for its own development...

The paramount goal of the North-South Campaign is to try to reduce the remoteness and abstractness of development policy, which cause many people to feel there is nothing they can do, despite their willingness to help. It is true that the image of development policy, as reflected in opinion polls, has improved somewhat in the last two years, and that some people are more open minded about it, especially the younger generation. However, in general, people are still not very well informed, nor is their attitude particularly positive. We should not let ourselves be deceived about this, even by people's spontaneous willingness to donate to alleviate famine or help refugees: it merely proves that the European public has an emotional sense of solidarity with the poorest of the poor ... But it overlooks... the fact that it cannot rectify the damage done by policy in other areas-agricultural policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, energy and technology policy...

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