22nd Oct 2020

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).

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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.

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