No more excuses: European Commission report must generate real change, says NGOs

Published: 1 November 2005

Brussels, Belgium: The European Commission’s aid package released today graphically illustrates the need for urgent action in 2005 to end poverty, a preventable tragedy and a global injustice. The challenge now is to turn proposals into action, said Oxfam International, Eurodad and Action Aid International.

Brussels, Belgium: The European Commission’s aid package released today graphically illustrates the need for urgent action in 2005 to end poverty, a preventable tragedy and a global injustice. The challenge now is to turn proposals into action, said Oxfam International, Eurodad and Action Aid International.

The report recommends a new average EU aid target of 0.56% of national income allocated to aid by 2010, with the aim of reaching a target of 0.7% by 2015. This is a step in the right direction, but the level of ambition is not far reaching enough, according to the three NGOs. Rich countries promised decades ago to reach the UN target of 0.7%. The real tests will be in coming months as Europe faces key opportunities for decisive action to turn these proposals into action. The clock is ticking for the EU to sign up to a doubling of aid by the EU Heads of State Summit in June, as part of the development package which Europe will present for the UN summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in September.

But NGOs are concerned that some Member States will reject or weaken the 0.56 per cent interim target and render the EU's aid package into an empty gesture.

"In the long term, history will judge the European Union's proposals by their capacity to deliver genuine change," said Oxfam's Luis Morago. "The proof of its level of ambition will be in the political will and energy it manages to drum up to turn its recommendations into reality," said Oxfam's Luis Morago. "It's now up to European leaders to rise to the challenge, to take long-overdue action and make this a breakthrough year for poverty eradication."

A report launched in February by the three NGOs called on the EU to commit to hitting the 0.7% target by 2010 but also called on donors to improve the quality of their aid. For example, the Greeks giving just one euro in fifteen to the poorest countries and 92% of Italian aid tied to Italian goods and services.

Sweden already gives more than 0.7% of its national income in aid, the UN target for halving world poverty by 2015. In comparison the Italians are the most miserly, contributing just 0.15% in 2004 and Ireland has just reneged on its commitment to meet 0.7% by 2007.

“The Commission is sending a clear message to the Italian Government," says Marco De Ponte, Secretary General of AAI Italia. “Italy is simply failing to deliver on aid. The Italian Government must respond to the Commission by setting a clear and reliable timetable to meet the commitments agreed at European level, which is now threatened due to lack of political will by some EU governments,” De Ponte concludes.

On debt relief, NGOs are particularly concerned that some Member States appear to be simultaneously increasing their levels of debt relief to the poorest countries while at the same time decreasing their levels of Official Development Aid (ODA).

“Debt relief should be fully financed through additional resources and should not substitute aid,” said Gail Hurley, spokeswoman of Eurodad. “Research has shown that most low-income countries will require full debt cancellation plus significant additional resources if they are ever to reach the MDGs by 2015.”

Contact Information

For more information contact:
Louis Bélanger, Oxfam Media Officer, Brussels on 32 4 73 562 260