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Riga.- On January 9th the European Union is officially opening the European Year for Development in the Latvian capital Riga. Latvia has the EU-presidency for the first six months of this year and actually came up with the initiative for a year focused on development three years ago. This year's EU slogan "Our world, Our dignity, Our future" is suppossed to call upon all European actors to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) together.

The EU is the biggest donor of the official development assistance (ODA) in the world. Four years after the adoption of the Agenda for Change, according to the European Commission, 2015 is the ideal time for donors and stakeholders to come together to look at what has been achieved so far, and most importantly, what still needs to be done.

Despite the current economic downturn, support for development remains high across the EU, with some 85% of EU citizens saying that Europe should continue helping developing countries despite the economic crisis, according to a Eurobarometer survey in 2013.

It is the first ever European Year to deal with the European Union's external action and Europe’s role in the world. "For development organisations all over Europe it is an unparalleled opportunity to showcase Europe's commitment to eradicating poverty worldwide and to inspire more Europeans to get engaged and involved in development."

The European Commission states the European Year of Development 2015 (EYD2015) will be a key opportunity to raise awareness of development across Europe, and to show European taxpayers that every Euro spent on development benefits both people living in some of the world's poorest countries, and EU citizens themselves.

Every month will have a theme, January is dedicated to "Europe in the world", e.g. the focus in February is "Education" and in March "Women and Girls".

Throughout the year there will be several events. The major one will be the European Development Days organized by the European Commission on 3-4 June in Brussels.

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