Magazine article New Internationalist

Miserly Move: European Commission Gives Less to the Poor

Magazine article New Internationalist

Miserly Move: European Commission Gives Less to the Poor

Article excerpt

The European Commission (EC) spent three-quarters of its development aid on low-income countries during the 1980s. Now those same countries receive barely half. The shift has come despite a European Union (EU) commitment to bring half of the world's poor out of extreme poverty by 2015.

It is a shift that must be reversed, according to a growing number of voices. Amongst them is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Its Development Assistance Committee calls into question 'how far the EC policy on poverty is reflected in the allocation of aid resources'. The report says: 'The EC allocates a lower proportion of its resources to lower-income countries than most other donors and there has been a trend for this share to fall over recent years.'

Europe's international development spending matters because of its size. The EC is the world's fifth-largest development assistance donor, with a current annual budget of $5.3 billion.

Back in 1995, the European Union chose to allocate a great deal of aid to the southern Mediterranean and Noah Africa -- known as the Meda countries in EU jargon. The decision was based on geopolitics, not the principle of greatest need. As a result, current EC aid spending shows such vast discrepancies as Morocco receiving times the per-capita aid of Bangladesh and Ethiopia. …

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