Wednesday

16th Oct 2019

Charities blame 'lack of political will' for EU aid cuts

  • The EU is set to miss its 0.7% aid pledge to the world's poorest (Photo: European Commission)

The EU's economic crisis took the blame after figures published Wednesday (3 April) revealed that aid to the world's poorest countries fell for the second year in a row.

The statistics released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a Paris-based economic club, found that aid spending among EU countries as a share of national income fell from 0.45 percent in 2012 to 0.43 percent, well below the 0.7 percent target pledged by 2015.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The decline in spending, which is equivalent to a 4 percent cut in real terms, follows a 2 percent cut in 2011.

Aid budgets across a string of EU countries have been cut as part of national austerity plans.

The biggest aid cuts fell in Spain, which cut assistance by 49 percent to just 0.15 percent of its national income. Italy and Greece, also among the EU countries worst hit by recession in 2012, cut aid by 34 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

At the other end of the table, the UK is expected to join Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands in hitting the 0.7 percent target in 2013, having ring-fenced their aid budgets from cuts.

Eloise Todd, Director of the Brussels office of anti-poverty organisation One, said EU countries risked "reversing the huge progress on extreme poverty that has been made since 2000.”

Meanwhile, Catherine Olier from development organisation Oxfam, dismissed the idea that the crisis prevented countries from hitting aid targets.

"The fact that the UK has kept up its aid shows that other donor countries could stick to their pledges if they cared," she said.

She added: "It’s not an issue of money but of political will."

It is the first time since 1997 that development aid has been cut over successive years.

Despite the decline, the EU with its 27 member states remains the largest aid donor providing aid worth €55 billion, according to the OECD's Development Assistance Committee.

Commenting on the pattern of aid cuts from countries hit hardest by the economic crisis, OECD secretary general Angel Gurría said: “It is worrying that budgetary duress in our member countries has led to a second successive fall in total aid."

However, he took "heart from the fact that, in spite of the crisis, nine countries still managed to increase their aid."

Although EU leaders committed themselves to the 0.7 percent target in February, development spending is also set to be one of the big losers from negotiations on the EU's next seven year budget framework.

Under the spending levels due to start in 2014, €58.7 billion will be allocated to external aid, well down on the €70 billion proposed by the European Commission.

MEPs worried about EU development spending

MEPs want the EU to keep a closer eye on the money it spends on joint EU/UN development projects after major shortcomings were identified in control and efficiency.

EU states drifting from development aid goals

The latest figures on development aid from European Union member states from the OECD suggest that the bloc is drifting away from commitments to deliver 0.7 percent of its gross national income in development assistance by 2015.

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us