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24th Oct 2021

EU urges member states to meet aid targets

  • EU governments are still well short of their pledge to spend at least 0.7 percent on development (Photo: European Commission)

The EU has called on governments to finally meet their promise of spending at least 0.7 percent of their income on development aid, as it set out its position on the next 15 years of global development policy.

Speaking on Thursday (5 February), the bloc’s development commissioner demanded a "re-commitment of the 0.7% target as our political goal and leverage in the negotiations".

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"We stand ready to play our part, but we also want to encourage others to step up their contributions. We believe that all developed countries, including in the EU, should meet the United Nation target of 0.7% of national income for development aid assistance," Neven Mimica said. 

In 2014, only four EU countries - the UK, Luxembourg, Sweden and Denmark - met the 0.7 percent target, while the EU average fell to 0.43 percent. Development budgets were one of the first victims of austerity-driven budget cuts adopted by most EU countries over the past five years.

World leaders have fired the starting gun on negotiations to agree new targets to succeed the Millennium Development Goals which expire at the end of 2015.

Finance ministers will gather in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July, to decide how to finance the successors to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aimed to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty and dramatically increase access to education by 2015.

The new development framework will then be agreed at a UN summit on sustainable development in September.

The headline goal from 2000 to reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty by 700 million compared to 1990-levels was met in 2010.

Meanwhile, education enrolment rates have dramatically increased but not sufficiently to meet the targets.

The draft Sustainable Development Goals proposed by the UN currently include 17 goals, with 169 associated targets, covering everything from the quality of drinking water to inequality, leading critics to suggest that will be too many targets for the programme to have any focus.

Mimica also underlined the EU’s support for “innovative financial means” to allow private companies to play a more active role in development policy by funding infrastructure projects in developing countries.

“We are ready to strengthen and broaden our blending capacities, which means bringing together our grant component with the loan capacities of the public or private sector in order to leverage the financial capacity to finance infrastructure projects,” he commented.

He added that: "We see private sector engagement much more along the lines of major development policy goals than along the lines of pure profit”.

In a statement, Oxfam spokesperson Hilary Jeune, criticised the EU executive for ignoring the need for new measures to ensure that companies pay their fair share of taxes in the developing world.

“It’s disappointing that they don’t put any new initiative on the table, knowing that corporate tax dodging costs developing countries $100 billion every year,” said Jeune.

“Europe should support the setup of a global inter-governmental body to promote fairer tax rules, with all countries seated at the table.”

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Tax havens in places like Luxembourg are zapping billions of euros from the coffers of developing countries and forcing weak governments to rely on dwindling international development aid, experts say.

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