This is a post by Stelios Stratinakis.
EU leaders are at a crossroads. One direction is the path to ending extreme poverty by increasing investments in long-term development, the other cutting aid to the world’s poorest and focusing on short-term quick fixes. The EU and its Member States are the world’s largest aid donor: whatever path they choose will have a global impact.
The EU is navigating an unprecedented path dealing with the consequences of Brexit, the global refugee crisis, and growing international instability. In parallel, Africa’s population is expected to double by 2050 with 50% expected to be under 25 years old – ten times the size of the EU’s youth population. Investments in this booming youth population’s education, employment and empowerment can help ensure that Africa can harness this “demographic dividend” and become the engine of global growth. In other words, a strong 2018 EU aid budget is a certain investment in uncertain times.
On 26 September, the European Parliament’s Budgets Committee adopted a number of proposals to increase EU investment in long-term development in 2018, in comparison to the European Commission’s draft budget. In particular, the Committee recommends increasing funds for health, education and nutrition. The challenges that Europe and developing countries face together – insecurity, pandemics, famine and instability – demand such investments. Decades of underinvestment in these sectors have jeopardised the fight against extreme poverty and regional stability. Evidence of what will happen without increased investments is all too clear: today 130 million girls are out of school, there are four countries that are either in, or about to fall into, famine. Hundreds of millions are not receiving the nutrition necessary to grow their minds and bodies.
It is a welcome step to see the committee recognising these are key investments to pave the way for a better, more secure future for all. As negotiations continue, we are calling on the European Parliament as a whole and Member States to back the Budgets Committee’s proposals. In doing so, they will ensure the EU continues to take a long-term view, investing in tackling extreme poverty as a key driver of instability. Now is not the time to roll back on commitments. Now more than ever we need the EU to step up, not step back, from its global responsibilities.
We need the EU to step up its efforts and ensure an ambitious 2018 EU budget that is focused on poverty eradication.