Oxfam's EU Advocacy office in Brussels

Looking ahead to 2014

By Natalia Alonso, Head of Oxfam’s EU Office

As major changes sweep over European leadership, 2014 will certainly prove a landmark year in Europe’s standing in the world. This institutional reshuffle offers an opportunity to change gears and tackle global challenges straight on.

At Oxfam, we want to see Europe leading the fight against inequality and climate change, two major injustices threatening to undermine the efforts of millions of people to escape poverty and hunger, both at home and abroad.

The year will see the election of new Presidents for the European Parliament, European Commission, and the European Council, as well as a new EU foreign policy chief.

Under this new leadership, the EU will be shaping a wide range of social justice issues, from tax and financial regulation reform, to climate and energy policies and the post 2015 UN Millennium Development Goals agenda to end world poverty.

With almost one in four Europeans at risk of poverty, we’ll see increased public pressure on European leaders to come up with feasible solutions to the economic crisis five years on from its start. One of them is to implement progressive taxation reforms, including a tax on wealth stocks and a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). We will continue to push more countries to commit to an FTT, and find effective, realistic solutions to curbing tax evasion. With an estimated €37 billion potential revenue from a tiny FTT by the 11 countries who have committed to implement it this year and an estimated €1 trillion lost via tax dodging each year, it is vital that European leaders pursue these initiatives to help protect public services such as health and education in Europe and beyond.

Our GROW campaign will continue to fight for food and climate justice along with other NGOs. With lacklustre progress made at the latest UN climate conference in Warsaw last year, we aim to step up pressure on Europe to reignite its ambition as a global leader on climate change in the run up to the UN climate summit in Paris in 2015, where a global deal is expected.

We can also expect that, later on in the year, a final EU decision will be made on the reform of biofuel policy which pushes up food prices and drives land grabs. We are determined to ensure that governments make an evident commitment to ending the burning of food for fuel once and for all. Oxfam will also closely follow the EU’s move to further promote private investment in agriculture and the need to support small-scale farmers, particularly for women. We can also expect a decision on food speculation early in the year.

As events in South Sudan threaten to worsen human suffering indiscriminately and aid workers labour tirelessly to alleviate the impacts of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Oxfam will carry on influencing EU approaches to these crisis stricken regions, and any others which might arise over the year.

Creating a fairer society is a global task, but many of the travails begin here at home. Europe has made substantial gains in aiding poverty reduction, but as new challenges arise, it is as important as ever that we work with those in power to give the developing world a voice.

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