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Increased EU development aid must reach those most in need, ONE and other NGOs say

BRUSSELS, 25 OCTOBER 2017 – The European Parliament has shown its support for the fight to end extreme poverty, by voting to increase funds for humanitarian and development aid in the EU’s 2018 budget. MEPs rejected the European Commission’s proposal, which had suggested a 6.7% reduction in development aid, and chose to prioritise the EU’s focus on poverty eradication. ONE, Save the Children, Oxfam and Plan International have welcomed this decision, but are calling on the EU to make sure EU development aid really reaches those most in need.

Valentina Barbagallo, Brussels Policy and Advocacy Manager at ONE, said: “In these uncertain times of pandemics, famine and instability, the EU has to recognise the critical need to invest in long-term development now. The European Parliament’s proposal to increase development and humanitarian aid – especially for crucial education programmes – shows vision and commitment. With Africa’s population set to more than double by 2050, access to quality education and jobs could transform a booming youth population into the engine of global growth, with the potential to wipe out extreme poverty. Member States must now show the same foresight and back these indispensable increases to EU aid.”

Hilary Jeune, Oxfam’s lead policy advisor on development cooperation, said: “The increase to humanitarian aid and development cooperation is much needed, but the money given to fighting poverty, where it is most needed, is merely crumbs next to the cake given to promoting the EU’s race to stop migration. Member states must now ensure the budget is not reduced to shoring up ‘Fortress Europe’, but instead defend Europe’s role as the world leader in development. Aid money must go to actually helping people, and not be dependent on other EU priorities such as migration.”

Tanya Cox, Plan International’s EU Representative (a.i.), said: “With this vote, the European Parliament has demonstrated its continued commitment to ensure that poverty and inequality are tackled. Given the huge weight of gender inequality in some parts of the world, special attention will need be given to realising girls’ and women’s rights, to make sure that no one is left behind. We also welcome the focus put by MEPs on human development and on the need for the EU to respond to crises – particularly through supporting education in emergencies. We expect Member States to agree and support this position during negotiations with the European Parliament in the coming weeks.”

Jacqueline Hale, Head of Advocacy at Save the Children, said: “Humanitarian aid, food security and adequate nutrition, and access to education – including in emergencies – are vital to children and young people. Parliament’s vote to increase these budget lines sends a positive signal that MEPs support funding for children living in poverty or in crisis-affected countries. Thank you to Daniele Viotti, Charles Goerens and rapporteur Siegfried Mureșan for these increases. We now urge the Parliament’s representatives in talks with Council to continue to negotiate for humanitarian aid and ambitious EU action to fight poverty and alleviate suffering outside its borders during their meetings in November.”


Notes to editors
● Spokespeople of all organisations are available for interviews.
● The EU’s external action receives financing from heading 4 of the EU budget, ‘The EU as a Global Player’.
● The European Commission had suggested to reduce the total funds in heading 4 by 232 million euros compared to 2017 levels, i.e. 5.6% cut to heading 4, with a cut of 6.7% to development aid.
● The Council has proposed to further cut heading 4 by 90 million euros.
● The European Parliament’s plenary has followed the proposal of the Budgets Committee to increase EU’s external spending by 232 million euros:
○ €12.5 million for human development (health and education).
○ €12.5 million for food security, nutrition and agriculture.
○ € 38.1 million for humanitarian aid (including €10 million reserve to education in humanitarian settings).
○ €119 million for the Mediterranean (European Neighbourhood Instrument).
○ €27 million for the Eastern Partnership (European Neighbourhood Instrument).
○ €16 million for UNRWA – Palestinian refugees (European Neighbourhood Instrument).
● Heading 4 is prioritising migration control and EU borders protection, rather than poverty eradication. This is contradicting the EU treaties which determine that poverty reduction and eradication should be the primary objectives of development cooperation.

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