7th Dec 2019

EU realigning aid towards domestic goals, say NGOs

  • Aid money is being channeled towards foreign policy goals such as fighting piracy, says the report (Photo: Council of European Union)

EU members states are increasingly tying overseas development aid to specific domestic and foreign policy goals, hampering efforts to tackle the root causes of poverty, a new report by a coalition of NGOs has claimed.

Frustrated by rising immigration into Europe and stagnating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, EU countries are turning their development funds towards an alternative list of priority areas, says the AidWatch report published on Thursday (19 May).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

At a high-level forum in Paris in 2005, donor states pledged to increase the effectiveness of international aid by redesigning the global aid architecture and handing recipient governments a greater say over how the money is spent.

A follow-up summit is scheduled to take place this November in Busan, South Korea, to review the process, but instead EU states are among those attempting to sideline recipient governments, suggests the report.

"Aid is increasingly based on donor self-interests," Jean Kamau from ActionAid, a member of the NGO coalition, told this website. "Take Kenya for example, money that was originally pledged to help strengthen the country's overall judiciary is now being specifically tied to the prosecution of pirates."

The report also suggests that certain strategic countries are being singled out for financial support. While the OECD categorises 48 states as fragile, 30 percent of all global development aid since 2002 has been channeled into three countries: Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, claims the AidWatch document.

"European governments will be making a serious mistake if some efforts to prove aid is effective to their domestic political audiences end up, in fact, meaning less effective aid," said Stephen Doughty of Oxfam.

"Ending poverty must remain in the driving seat of EU aid policies."

Official development assistance (ODA) is the main topic on the agenda of EU development ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, followed by a meeting of G8 leaders later in the week.

A diplomat from a large EU member states denied that fighting poverty was no longer the key goal. "Our approach is to target aid very firmly where it can have an impact. There is a belief that poverty is frequently caused by conflicts, so it is right to target these areas."

As well of the 'quality' of EU aid, charities also hit out at several large member states this week over their failure to meet development commitments set out at the Gleneagles G8 summit in 2005.

On Monday a report produced by the anti-poverty group ONE singled out Italy as falling far behind its ODA pledges, while France and Germany were also off target. The UK was commended for its efforts.

EU aid pledges and progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are on the agenda of a EU leaders meeting this June.

The MDGs, a set of eight global poverty initiatives ratified by UN member states in 2000, include the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, gender equality and reduced child mortality, with a deadline set for 2015.


Russia makes big promises to Arctic peoples on expansion

The Arctic future conference kicked off with optimistic presentations by ministers and officials of the Russian government — but also a burst of scepticism from representatives of those actually living in Russia's Arctic and Far East regions.


UK election plus EU summit in focus This WEEK

EU leaders will try to agree on the 2050 emission-free target - but they will deeply disagree on EU spending over the next seven years. Meanwhile the UK will elect its new political leadership.

Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres

A trend has emerged over the past few months where desperate people are paying to get locked up in Libyan detention centres to escape the conflict and with the hope they stand a better chance of getting resettled to Europe.


Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee offers a snapshot of the European "state of mind", says its chair Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar. Its biggest challenge will be getting member states to unblock the EU asylum package.

News in Brief

  1. Greece denies access to fair asylum process, report says
  2. Report: Self-regulation of social media 'not working'
  3. Turkey: Greek expulsion of Libyan envoy 'outrageous'
  4. Merkel coalition may survive, says new SPD co-leader
  5. Von der Leyen Ethiopia visit a 'political statement'
  6. Over 5,500 scientists ask EU to protect freshwater life
  7. Iran defies EU and UN on ballistic missiles
  8. Committee of the Regions: bigger budget for Green Deal


UK election plus EU summit in focus This WEEK

EU leaders will try to agree on the 2050 emission-free target - but they will deeply disagree on EU spending over the next seven years. Meanwhile the UK will elect its new political leadership.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Russia makes big promises to Arctic peoples on expansion
  2. UK election plus EU summit in focus This WEEK
  3. Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres
  4. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  5. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  6. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  7. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  8. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us