UK media reports over the weekend were critical of UK aid money that is spent via Europe. But in the stories many facts about EU aid have been overlooked. At ONE we fight for smart aid to help the poorest people lift themselves out of extreme poverty. Aid from the European Union is increasingly just that. More and more of it is smart aid that saves lives and we should protect it.
So to correct some of the myths, here my top ten facts about EU aid and the reasons we need to support it:
Bill Gates says “The EU is the most influential aid donor in the world” and “EU generosity has literally helped save millions and millions of lives.”
Contrary to reports the EU does not give development aid to Iceland. Iceland receives money from a specific fund designed to assist with the costs of preparing for EU membership. This is nothing to do with EU aid to fight poverty.
EU aid is focusing on the poorest people and countries. Governments of China, Brazil and India will no longer receive development aid from the EU from 2014 and the list of countries eligible for the EU’s Development Cooperation Instrument has been cut from 48 to 29 so that EU aid will become even more focused on the poorest countries in the years ahead.
The UK ranks the European Commission among the world’s top development and humanitarian aid donors. The UK’s Multilateral Aid Review rated the European Development Fund, the key EU aid instrument, as ‘critical to UK development objectives’.
An independent study by Publish What You Fund ranked the part of the EU that delivers aid to the poorest, one of the top ten most transparent donors in the world. It came ninth out of 58 institutions.
Giving some of our aid through the EU means we can coordinate aid with other countries to avoid overlap, save money on delivery, and reach countries that we otherwise couldn’t.
Eritrea is the fifth poorest country in the world but not a focus of direct aid from the UK, France or Germany. Here EU aid supports agriculture so communities can cope with droughts and avoid famine, and it build roads so people can get their goods to market, building businesses and helping people lift themselves out of poverty.
At the UK Hunger Summit during the Olympics the European Union pledged to use its aid to help save 7 million children from stunting (caused by malnutrition) by 2025.
If protected the EU aid budget could help over 51 million people have access to clean water, get over 15 million children into primary school and vaccinate 8.3 million children by 2020.
We’re not saying everything in the world of aid is perfect, nor that aid is all that’s needed to overcome poverty. And we also know there are lots of views about how big the EU should be, how big its total budget should be and so on. That debate is not for us. Our argument is simple: aid from Europe is good and getting better. It’s a tiny proportion of total spending. It’s helping save lives. It should be protected.
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