Europe still missing €42 billion to help reach global poverty goals

downloadOn 8 April, Oxfam celebrated news that donors had increased their development aid spending, but most of Europe’s wealthiest governments still fail to meet promises designed to alleviate global poverty and slash economic inequality.

The worldwide development organization was responding to today’s release of 2013 overseas aid figures by the OECD, which show a small overall increase in EU-19, despite the fact that key donors such as France (-9.8%), the Netherlands (-6.2%), Belgium (-6.1%) and Portugal (-20.4%) have slashed aid and spurned their own development pledges. Western European countries have performed slightly worse than the global trend.

The EU-19 delivered €51.3 billion or 0.42% of their national income as overseas aid in 2013, which reveals a €42bn funding gap to meet their 0.7% target by 2015. This long-standing commitment lies at the heart of the UN flagship Millennium Development Goals (MDG) set to expire next year. “While we’re happy to see some countries like the UK and Sweden increasing their contributions, in this era of unprecedented global riches, it’s shameful that most of Europe’s wealthiest countries are failing to meet agreed minimum standards to end poverty and reduce economic inequality,” said Natalia Alonso, Head of Oxfam’s EU Office. “When countries such as France, Portugal and Belgium fail to meet their aid promises, their actions have a real human cost that simply mean fewer teachers and nurses in the world’s poorest countries. European aid saves lives every year and is irreplaceable,” said Alonso.

For example, the European Commission’s aid spending in 2012, which totalled €13bn, represented an important share of government revenue in poor countries: 23% in Sierra Leone, 22% in Comoros, 19% in Burundi, 18% in Malawi, 13% in Madagascar and 12% in Togo. “Unlike aid, other sources of development finance like foreign direct investment or loans are not designed to get people out of poverty. Aid, for example, can help poor countries raise their own resources for basic services like health and education by helping strengthen their tax systems,” added Alonso.

Against the backdrop of broken aid promises by some of the Europe’s richest countries, innovative ways to raise money for development are absolutely crucial. Oxfam is calling on the 11 EU countries who agreed to implement a financial transaction tax (FTT) this year to spend part of the revenues to help fight poverty and climate change. The international organization is also calling on Europe to crackdown on tax dodging which drains billions out of poor countries every year.

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Category: A Frontpage, EU, European Commission, Oxfam, Poverty, United Nations

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