The group of seven industrial nations (G7) has, for the first time, expressed its willingness to cancel up to 100 per cent of the debt the world's poorest nations owe to international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
Parallel to the G7 meeting, France and Germany agreed to announce their own joint development plan: an international tax, probably on aircraft fuel, airline tickets or arms, that would increase resources devoted to development financing and generate the funds needed to cover the targeted debt. Germany and France plan to present their proposal to other EU countries.
"This is the time for taking action. We have had so much rhetoric. We have had so many speeches. Now is the time to take critical action," said Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourgish Prime Minister who currently holds the EU presidency and leads the Eurogroup of finance ministers.
The development aid issue will be on the agenda of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meetings in February, March and April. It will also be the main topic for the informal meeting of the finance ministers on 13 and 14 May 2005.