EU set to miss 2015 aid goal

24 Apr 12
European Union countries are likely to miss their collective goal of spending 0.7% of their gross national income on development aid by 2015, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said today.

By Nick Mann | 24 April 2012

European Union countries are likely to miss their collective goal of spending 0.7% of their gross national income on development aid by 2015, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said today.

In a review of the bloc’s development co-operation policies, the OECD said plans by many member states to scale back their aid budgets as a result of the fiscal crisis meant there was a ‘high risk’ the goal would be missed.

In 2011, the 27 EU states collectively spent just 0.42% of their income – $73.6bn – on aid, a fall from 0.44% in 2010. They had already missed the interim 0.56% goal set for 2010.

However, the OECD report said that the EU accounted for 62% of the increase in development aid spending between 2005 and 2010. Overall, support given by developed countries to the developing world fell by 2.7% in real terms last year – the first drop since 1997.

The OECD said the European Council needed to do more to show member states the benefits of meeting the 0.7% target. It should also map out what the EU as a whole will need to do to meet the target and the role member states should play in that.

To strengthen its international development role, the EU was urged to build a common aid strategy, to ensure that both it and its member states spoke with a coherent voice on the issue.

‘It is still a challenge to develop a cohesive approach to meeting the development co-operation commitments and to speak consistently with a unified voice in the international arena. Falling short of this risks weakening the EU’s influence and impact,’ the report said.

‘Increased public scepticism and more intense scrutiny’ of spending had made it even more important that the EU measured and communicated the impacts of its development aid and developed a ‘communication culture’.

Improving the effectiveness, speed and flexibility of the aid programmes also required further simplification of the EU’s complex budget and administrative processes, the report said, with more devolution of authority to staff working on the ground in countries.

Brian Atwood, chair of the OECD’s development assistance committee, said: ‘This review reflects the complexity of the EU systems as well as the great potential for greater c-ordination among EU donors.

‘Great progress has been made, but each and every EU member will need to yield a bit if the union is to reach its full potential as a donor. Fortunately, there is now strong institutional leadership that is pushing the ball in the right direction.’

Last week, charities and campaign groups voiced concerns that the UK government might drop plans to make the 07% target for 2015 legally binding. The goal had been expected to feature in next month’s Queen’s Speech, which sets out the government legislative’s plans for the next year, but the Observer said there were signs it had been dropped.

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