The Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church remind the government of the need to Make Poverty History

It has been nearly two months since the G8 summit at Gleneagles,but the Make Poverty History campaign refuses to be forgotten. Infact, as Britain takes presidency of the European Union, the callfor justice is louder than ever.

This morning, representatives from the Methodist Church and theUnited Reformed Church paid a visit to 10 Downing Street to remindthe Prime Minister that as the British presidency of the EuropeanUnion begins, there is a great responsibility to eliminate unfairtrade rules in the call for trade justice. The group ofrepresentatives included Anthea Cox (Methodist Church Co-ordinatingSecretary for Public Life and Social Justice), the Revd MartinTurner (Superintendent minister at Westminster Central Hall), AnneMartin (United Reformed Church Commitment for Life Co-ordinator)and the Revd David Downing (Minister at Rectory Road and ClaremontUnited Reformed Churches, London). They presented a letter for thePrime Minister, signed by the Revd David Deeks (General Secretaryof the Methodist Church) and the Revd David Cornick (GeneralSecretary of the United Reformed Church), along with a portion ofthe 2,000 postcards signed by members of both churches.

A letter has also been sent to Peter Mandelson, in Brussels, andboth the letters and the postcards urge the government to honourthe statements made in March by the Secretary of State for Tradeand Industry to the effect that:

· We do not force trade liberalisation on developing countrieseither in the way we negotiate trade agreements or by making it acondition of our giving aid

· The EU make an upfront offer of complete duty- and quota-freeaccess to each African, Caribbean and Pacific country, with nostrings attached

There is a serious concern that Economic Partnership Agreementswill force countries to open up their economies in a way that hurtsmore that it helps, causing further hardship for those in povertyand the churches believe that Britain should use its influence onthe world stage in 2005 to address this. Anthea Cox commented that,'The Make Poverty History Campaign seeks to influence decisionmakers at several key events during 2005 of which the G8 summit wasone. Britain's presidency of the EU provides another significantway in which we can encourage European partners to take the issuesseriously and work towards tacking the causes of extreme poverty.The churches as a part of the Make Poverty History Coalition areurging the EU to rethink Economic Partnership Agreements.' AnneMartin added, 'Despite this being a complex issue, it is obviousthat the current system is deeply against the interest of thepoorest nations.'