EU aid spending drops for first time since 2002

25 Jun 12
European Union development aid to the world’s poorest countries fell for the first time in almost a decade last year, as 14 countries reduced their spending.

By Nick Mann | 25 June 2012

European Union development aid to the world’s poorest countries fell for the first time in almost a decade last year, as 14 countries reduced their spending.

Figures published by the charity One today reveal that the EU27 gave €50.857bn in overseas aid in 2011, compared with €51.624bn in 2010 – a 1.5% drop. Their aid spending as a percentage of gross national income fell from 0.42% to 0.4%.

The EU as a whole is striving towards the Millennium Development Goals, endorsed by member states in 2005, for 0.7% of GNI to be spent on overseas development aid by 2015. But in 2010 it was  €18bn short of its interim target, according to the charity’s 2012 Data report.

Particularly big drops were recorded between 2010 and 2011 by Cyprus, Greece and Spain, which cut their aid spending by 33%, 39% and 29% respectively. One said this was a sign that austerity measures were starting to hit aid budgets.

Eloise Todd, Brussels director of One, said: ‘As austerity bites across Europe, we can now see the impact it is having on life-saving aid programmes.

‘Huge cuts in aid from Greece and Spain are not unexpected in this time of turmoil but the poor record almost across the board is worrying. Countries like Denmark, the UK and Ireland demonstrate that it is possible through determined leadership and smart choices to protect aid budgets. Their example must be replicated.’

As a whole, the EU27 will need to increase total development assistance by an additional

€42.93bn between 2011 and 2015 to reach the 0.7% target, which is equivalent to €93.78bn. Only five countries of the 27 countries are on track to reach their 2015 targets – Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The charity also found that EU member states were falling short on the 2005 commitment for 50% of all increases in aid spending to be made to Africa, compared with 2004 baseline levels. To be on track, the core 15 EU member states should have spent an additional €15.58bn of aid in Africa by 2010, but spent only €5.04bn.

Member states are currently negotiating the EU’s next seven-year budget for 2014 to 2020, which would include a planned €51bn increase in aid spending. With states channelling much of their aid spending through the EU itself, One said backing this increase would help countries to get closer to the 0.7% goal.

Todd said: ‘These negotiations could not have come at more crucial time for Europe’s promise to Africa. Leaders, whilst under pressure to keep overall spending down, must secure a fair proportion for the world’s poorest people.

‘If they miss this opportunity they are at risk of allowing the economic crisis to derail the final push to meet the Millennium Development Goals. That’s a matter of life and death for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.’

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