Action remains well short of ambition in the European Union, a new report by CONCORD, the European NGO confederation for relief and development shows. Despite repeated promises, the EU as a whole did not deliver on its commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) as aid by 2015. More worryingly, there is an emerging trend in EU countries to divert aid budgets from sustainable development to domestic costs associated with hosting refugees and asylum seekers.
Launched in Brussels on 24 November, the tenth CONCORD AidWatch report “Looking to the future, don’t forget the past – aid beyond 2015” finds that:
(-) As a group, the EU remains well short of the target having spent 0.42% of its GNI on aid, with only four of 28 Member States meeting the 0.7% target
(-) Only 4 EU countries are meeting aid targets: Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark and the UK
(-) Aid budgets are increasingly being used to cover refugee and asylum seekers costs: Netherlands 145%, Italy 107%, Cyprus 65%, and Portugal 38%. Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland and Bulgaria have already decided not to report refugee costs as ODA, contrary to Spain, Malta and Hungary
(-) EU aid is still seen by many as a tool to drive policy change or liberalization in partner countries – much aid remains directly tied or comes with a ‘suggested’ policy agenda
(-) Development aid commitments by European Union countries are also at risk of being greenwashed to meet climate finance promises to poorer nations and that these existing aid commitments could be relabeled to qualify as climate finance. Also the growing costs of climate change should not replace existing development priorities.
Current aid budgets not enough for global challenges
“Agenda 2030 will require ambitious financing from all actors – on that we’re all agreed. What’s been lacking to date is real action from most – though certainly not all - of the donor community to meet their own commitments and promises on aid which we’ve seen again this year as the EU misses its own 2015 target to deliver on the 0.7% promise. Aid will remain a vital development source for years to come – it is focused on reaching the hardest to reach which is vital for the leave no one behind agenda and is more flexible, predictable and accountable. To ensure the new development framework delivers as expected, EU should reach the 0.7% target by 2020 in line with the commitment made in Addis”, said Amy Dodd Director UK Aid Network and CONCORD AidWatch Chair.
Aid budgets increasingly covering refugee and asylum seekers costs
ODA should be used for stepping up international protection, tackling root causes of forced migration and displacement and investing in inclusive development. If the current trend of using aid budgets to host refugees continues, the biggest recipient of European aid in the future could paradoxically be Europe.
“We recognize the urgent nature of the current refugee crisis, but remain convinced that aid should be used to support development in third countries. The World’s poorest should not foot the bill for the refugee costs in Europe. Aid is essential to prevent more people having to flee their homes. Continuing investing in fighting poverty and inequality in developing countries is ultimately the most sustainable way of dealing with the crisis in the long term”, said Jessica Poh-Janrell from CONCORD Sweden.
Billions lost– how the EU over counts its aid
Aid should be a real transfer of resources to developing countries, yet the EU inflated its aid by some €7,1billion in 2014, that represents 12% of all aid flows.
“Effective aid, coupled with greater policy coherence for development on fiscal issues, could provide a great boost to development efforts in developing countries. In the long term, aid is only one cog in the wheel, which will turn only if we make all the other parts work as they should. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda recognizes the importance of effective, progressive and fair tax systems in the fight against poverty and inequality”, according to Jeroen Kwakkenbos from Eurodad.
Link to the report and countries pages: http://www.concordeurope.org/publications
CONCORD is the European confederation of Relief and Development NGOs.It represents NGOs from all 28 EU member states, as well as 20 international networks and 3 associate members. Since 2005, CONCORD has published the AidWatch to monitor the quantity and quality of EU aid.
In 2014, only four EU countries met the 0.7% target: Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark and the UK. As a group, the EU is a long way off the target, delivering 0.42% of its GNI in ODA, compared to 0.43% in 2013, although in nominal terms aid increased slightly, from €56.9bn to €58.3bn.
The largest increases in EU aid were in the EU13 countries, namely Romania (65% increase), Croatia (41%), Estonia, (21%), Hungary (13%) and Malta (13%).
Significant increases were also recorded in Germany (14%), Finland (14%), the UK (9%) and Sweden (7%), although aid is expected to contract significantly in Finland in 2015. Major cuts were recorded in other countries, including Lithuania (21% cut), Spain (20%), Portugal (14%), France (8%) and Poland (7%). Of these countries, Spain, Portugal and France are a source of serious concern, because they have continued on a downward trend for the last few years.
In 2014 the EU28 member states and the European institutions inflated their aid by €7.1bn, which represents 12% of all aid flows.
The commitments: In 2005, the EU15 committed to give 0.51% of GNI at least by 2010 (with an average of 0.56%) and 0.7% by 2015. The 12 New member States committed to give 0.17% of GNI as aid by 2010 and 0.33% by 2015.
In 2014, the European Institutions managed €12.1bn in development assistance. This makes the European Institutions, one of the world’s largest donors. Out of this amount, €2.1bn were own resources, while the rest is imputable to the 28 Member States.
In 2013, the European Institutions provided €2.2bn in aid through budget support, in 2014, the figure decreased to €1.6bn. Across member states, the amount of budget support dropped from €1.8bn in 2010 to €0.8bn in 2014.