New analysis published today shows Europe’s economic crisis has taken its toll on aid flows, with aid from the European Union declining for the first time since 2002, and 14 EU countries decreasing aid in 2011. Aid to Africa has been hit with Europe falling far short of delivering the aid it promised to the continent. However the report, by anti-poverty group ONE, also shows that some countries, including Germany, succeeded in increasing aid last year. The Netherlands, the UK and Ireland have also protected their promises to the poorest people during the crisis.
As EU heads of state gather in Brussels this week, ONE warns that unless leaders protect aid for the poorest people during the European budget negotiations, the final push to meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goals risks being derailed.
The 2012 DATA report finds:
In 2011 aid from EU countries fell for the first time since 2002, with a drop of 1.5%.
14 EU member states decreased aid between 2010 and 2011, including major cuts in Greece and Spain.
The EU fell €18 billion short of its 2010 interim aid promise.
The EU15 remain significantly behind on promises to increase aid to Africa. Between 2004 and 2010, the EU15 increased aid to Africa by only €5.04 billion, far short of their target increase of €15.58 billion.
Italy and Germany increased aid in 2011 however both are still falling short of their targets.
The UK and Ireland have successfully managed to stay on track to meet their aid commitments.
Published budget projections by the European Commission foresee further cuts by many countries, including Spain, Greece, together with only small increases from key donors France and Germany.
Adrian Lovett Europe Executive Director of ONE, said:
“This report reveals that those bearing the brunt of Europe’s economic crisis include some of the world’s poorest people. As austerity bites across Europe, we can now see the impact it is having on life-saving aid programmes.
“Huge cuts in aid from Greece and Spain are not unexpected in this time of turmoil but the poor record further across the board is worrying. Countries like the Netherlands, the UK, and Ireland demonstrate that it is possible through determined leadership and smart choices to protect aid budgets. Their example must be replicated.
“As European leaders mobilise huge sums to bail out their close neighbours, they must not forget their promises to Africa. The deal struck to protect Spain’s banks this month is worth five times what would be needed to meet Europe’s aid promises to Africa. While real progress has been made in recent years, the fact remains millions of people still rely on life-saving programmes funded by smart aid.”
This year European leaders are negotiating the next seven-year budget for the 2014-2020 period, which will focus for the most part on addressing Europe’s economic crisis. However, current proposals also include resources for development assistance, including €51 billion earmarked for development assistance to the poorest countries. If this proposal is kept it would help many countries get closer to their target of investing 0.7% of national income in aid and help secure vital funding for the drive to meet the Millennium Development Goals that expire in 2015.
Adrian Lovett continued:
“These negotiations could not have come at more crucial time for Europe’s promise to Africa. Leaders, whilst under pressure to keep overall spending down, must secure a fair proportion for the world’s poorest people. If leaders miss this opportunity they are at risk of allowing the economic crisis to derail the final push to meet the Millennium Development Goals. That’s a matter of life and death for some of the world’s poorest people.”
The UK remains on track to meet its aid promises. However the economic reality means that while the UK aid reached 0.55% of national income in 2011 (excluding debt relief), in real terms UK aid fell by 0.8%. In order to meet its promise to the world’s poorest people the UK will increase aid to 0.7% of national income in 2013. The UK also stands out as a leader on aid effectiveness and transparency, scoring highly across the board on in terms of quality of aid.
Adrian Lovett said:
“David Cameron deserves real credit for his firm promise to reach the 0.7% aid target next year. It is vital that he uses his upcoming G8 Presidency and negotiations over the next European budget to ensure all donors keep their promises. He will need to use all Britain’s diplomatic muscle and make compromises in other areas to get the right result. This is a real test of leadership.
“Right now the UK is a leader in Europe when it comes to getting value for money for our aid. At a time of cuts, this drive to ensure our aid achieves as much as possible is more important than ever.”
ONE is a global grassroots advocacy and campaigning organisation backed by 3 million people that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. For more information, please visit www.ONE.org
Since its inception, the DATA Report has held the world’s wealthiest countries accountable for their commitments to the world’s poorest countries. For the past six years, it has tracked progress against the Gleneagles commitments made by the G7 in 2005. Those commitments expired in 2010. The 2012 DATA Report turns its principal attention to the European Union (EU) and its bold commitments to continue increasing development assistance up to 2015. This year, the DATA Report monitors EU commitments to reach a target of 0.7% of gross national income to be provided as official development assistance (ODA/GNI) by 2015 and to provide half of its ODA increases to Africa.
The EU 15 refers to the countries that were members of the European Union prior to May 2004. The EU15 comprises of: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
The EU 15 need to increase aid by €20.6 billion between 2011 and 2015 to meet its Africa aid target.