Development aid: spending better and spending more

Improvements in the use of official development aid must not serve as an excuse for Member States to reduce the level of aid they give, argued MEPs and national MPs at a joint meeting on cooperation policy at the EP on Thursday. The food crisis and the impact of EU enlargement on its development policy were also discussed.

"Under no circumstances must an improvement in the effectiveness of our aid be used as an excuse for the Member States not to abide by the undertakings they have given to increase aid", said Alain Hutchinson (PES, BE).
In 2007, European official development aid declined to 0.38% of GDP, after reaching 0.41% in 2006. Yet Member States undertook in 2005 to allocate 0.56% of GDP by 2010 and 0.7% by 2015. An increase of this order is needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

A re-orientation of development aid by the new Member States?

The new EU Member States do not necessarily have the same priorities for development aid as the other Member States, underlined Danutė Budreikaitė (ALDE, LT) and Filip Kaczmarek (EPP-ED, PL).
Geographically, "the new Member States concentrate their aid on their neighbours such as the CIS or Balkan states (Serbia and FYROM).  "The ACP countries are not necessarily our main focus", said Ms Budreikaitė. Mr Kaczmarek believed "Europe's neighbourhood policy is more important than official development aid".
As to the nature of the aid provided by the new Member States, Ms Budreikaitė said they leaned towards promoting economic and human rights rather than just combating poverty.
By joining the European Union, most new Member States have changed from being net recipients of official aid, through the pre-accession funds, to being donors. The new Member States contribute to the European Development Fund (EDF).