Anti-poverty campaign group ONE today welcomed the announcement that the EU's new development policy will focus on agriculture and food security, along with other important issues like governance, health, education and energy.
Speaking on the proposal, Eloise Todd, ONE's Brussels Director said: "We completely support Commissioner Piebalgs' decision to put agriculture and food security at the heart of the EU's new policy on development. Last week we launched a new campaign, Hungry No More, which calls on governments to invest more in agriculture so we can prevent famines and build livelihoods in rural Africa."
She continued: "The Commissioner has a fantastic opportunity to put his money where his mouth is in just under two months' time. We will be watching to ensure that the next 7-year EU budget increases spending on investment in agriculture for the poorest farmers in the most vulnerable parts of Africa. In the meantime we look to the European Commission to show leadership on the food crisis in the Horn of Africa and make sure that the impressive humanitarian response is followed with strong plans to build up agricultural capacity in the region to ward off the threat of future crises. That can't wait until 2014, and we look to the Commissioner to deliver Commission funds and corral EU Member States, including at next months' Development Council."
Commenting on the other priorities included in the proposal, Eloise Todd added: "The drive for efficiency is laudable, and there are simple ways the Commissioner can deliver on this in his December spending plans. Commission support for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations - a fund that has already saved millions of lives - should increase to €50m year. It's also reassuring to see the Commission underline the focus on poverty alleviation. We must ensure overseas aid is targeted at the most vulnerable and not used to serve the EU's political interests."
On the wider budget challenge, she added: "It is imperative that the Commission fights hard to ensure that the €100 billion put forward for external spending in the 7-year budget is focussed on the very poorest. We'll be working with EU leaders and the European Parliament to make sure that any cuts to the EU budget do not cost lives."
Notes to editors:
1.ONE is a global grassroots advocacy and campaigning organisation backed by more than 2.5 million people that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease. For more information please visit www.ONE.org
2.On 4 October ONE launched Hungry No More, a new campaign that calls for the G8, G20, and African governments to:
Urgently fill the $1 billion financing gap for emergency assistance in the Horn of Africaand ensure that all those in need are reached. In the case of Somalia, greater regional and international political will is required to support an inclusive multi-stakeholder process - including a prominent voice for Somali civil society - that conclusively addresses the underlying causes of insecurity.
To live up to their 2009 L'Aquila commitment to invest $22 billion in agriculture and for African governments to fulfil their Maputo pledge to spend 10% of their national budgets on agriculture.
Invest in longer-term agriculture and food security programs to stop the cycle of extreme hunger, such as the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme.
3.On 7 December the European Commission will announce its budget for 2014-2020, which will include funding for its new development policy.
4.The European Union as a whole (Member States plus EuropeAid, Commission-managed funds) is the biggest donor of official development aid worldwide. In 2010, it provided €53.8 billion (more than 50% of global aid). The European Commission is responsible for the management of €11 billion of aid per year, putting it in second place among donors globally.
Drought may be an act of nature, but famine is not. The current crisis in the Horn of Africa is a man-made disaster that could have been avoided. But we don't have the necessary political will to stop the starving – and its causes. As a consequence, millions are affected and tens of thousands of children have died.