Belgian Development Minister Plans To Propose European Union Appoint AIDS Envoy To Coordinate E.U. Response to Pandemic
Belgian Development Minister Armand De Decker at a meeting with other European Union development ministers on Oct. 27 in Maastricht, Netherlands, plans to propose that the European Union appoint an HIV/AIDS envoy to coordinate its response to the pandemic, the European Voice reports. De Decker said he believes the European Union's HIV/AIDS efforts have been "too fragmented" because of a lack of cooperation among the various European Commission departments that focus on health and development, and the appointment of a "single 'Mr.' or 'Mrs.' AIDS" would help manage those efforts, according to the Voice. An unnamed Belgian senior civil servant said, "Ideally it should be a Mrs. AIDS," adding, "At least in Africa, this has been very much a gender problem." The unnamed source said, "What we are saying is that there needs to be more resources for AIDS programs. We also want to have a common strategy." Belgium, France, Sweden and the Netherlands are the only E.U. member states that have appointed HIV/AIDS ambassadors, according to the Voice.
At a meeting in the European Parliament last month, Dutch Development Minister Agnes Van Ardennes "expressed doubt" about the benefits of appointing an E.U. HIV/AIDS envoy and suggested that instead a member of the European Commission act in a coordinating role, according to the Voice. The Netherlands, which currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency, has no intention of seeking the appointment of an E.U. AIDS envoy, according to an unnamed Dutch diplomat, the Voice reports. Anders Wijkman, who is requesting that the European Union increase its HIV/AIDS budget, said, "The E.U. could provide leadership here," adding, "It is in a good position to take on a global problem like AIDS because we need to pool resources and coordinate activities. The idea of a special representative is a very good suggestion" (Cronin, European Voice, 9/30).