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Euro Ministers blocking vital funds for clean water projects - Baker

March 22, 2004 12:48 PM

A €1 billion fund from the European Commission to provide fresh water and sanitation to millions of people in the Developing World has been blocked by ministers on the General Affairs Council, made up of EU foreign ministers, including Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw.

Norman Baker MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, has written to Jack Straw and Hilary Benn, the International Development Secretary, to ask what position the UK Government is taking on the release of the funds.

Mr Baker said:

"It is an absolute disgrace that Tony Blair is pledging to make Africa a key priority, while the Treasury is earning interest on money that has been promised to the Developing World.

"On Monday, the world will be asked to observe UN World Water Day to increase awareness of the importance of conserving and protecting the world's scare water resources.

"Blocking the release of the €1 billion fund, is a betrayal of pledges made by European governments a year ago. It directly betrays some of the world's poorest people.

"If EU member states genuinely want to meet their water and sanitation commitments, they must release the money and get the life-saving projects started.

"Jack Straw must now set out and explain the UK Government's position, and take action to ensure the 'Water for Life' project moves forward."