28th Oct 2016

Budget cuts jeopardize EU aid projects, humanitarian agencies say

  • EU budget cut proposals will affect EU commitments to development for world's poorest, says Oxfam (Photo: European Commission)

EU policies in development and humanitarian aid risks having their budget slashed over the next seven years, say humanitarian agencies.

The proposed cuts would present the single largest drop in funds "ever seen in development and humanitarian aid," said the UK-based Oxfam in a statement on Thursday (16 November).

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The European Commission has budgeted €60 billion for development and humanitarian aid over 2014-2020 but has met resistance from the budget hawk member states who want it reduced.

The money would ensure some €8.5 billion annually for projects to help fund education, food centres in famished areas, and numerous development projects throughout 150 countries.

The aid money is taken from the EU's Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) and the European Development Fund (EDF).

But Oxfam says EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy called for a 9.65 percent cut to external spending, with some 11 percent taken out from EDF "despite its focus to the world’s poorest countries."

Meanwhile, an earlier seven-year budget plan put forward by the EU Cypriot presidency called for an overall €50 billion cut to the EU budget which would "disproportionately" target aid, says Oxfam.

Oxfam noed that the Cypriot presidency wants to remove €7.3 billion from the aid budget.

"[This] would represent more than 10 percent cut to external spending and 15 percent of the overall proposed bargain," said the agency.

The EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP), by way of comparison, would have its budget reduced by around 1 percent.

Member states pushing for the overall cuts in the budget say the EU funds are misspent.

Others want to retain keep the aid intact.

For his part, France's minister of finance Pierre Moscovici said in October that the EU should “conserve” the level of development aid “throughout the budget negotiations ahead, which should not interfere" with this goal, reported the AFP.

A November report by the European Court of Auditors said EU money for external development and humanitarian aid projects was generally well managed, but with some discrepancies in final payments and tendering procedures.

"We do think [the development agenda] is one of the priorities and we will be making the case for it as part of [EU] budget negotiations… It is fair to say the European Development Fund, when we put it through [the UK government] multilateral aid review in 2011, it came with a good score," said Justine Greening, the UK secretary of state for international development in a speech in October.

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