Europe’s credibility on aid on the line

Published: 14 April 2008

As President Barroso and Commissioner Michel launch an ambitious strategy for how Europe can help developing countries reach the UN-agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 Oxfam today warned that Europe cannot live up to its aspirations to be a global leader on tackling poverty unless fine words are backed up with hard cash. Only last week international aid figures showed that European aid has fallen for the second year running, by $2.5 billion (€1.6 billion) in 2007, despite repeated promises that aid would be increased.

“This anti-poverty package is a welcome move from the European Commission, but the consistent gap between rhetoric and reality from member states to poor countries cannot be allowed to continue,” said Luis Morago, Head of Oxfam’s EU office.

“Europe has committed many times in the past to increasing its aid. Unless a massive improvement is seen in 2008, there’s no way that Europe’s targets to reduce poverty – such as reducing maternal mortality or number of men and women living in extreme poverty – will be met.”

Morago added: “EU member states can still deliver at critical Council meetings in May and June. Only by doing so will Europe be able to hold its head high at international meetings later this year in Accra and New York to show developing countries and other donors that Europe can deliver on its promises.”

"Our experience is that quality, long-term aid is making an enormous difference. It has allowed poor country governments across the world to significantly raise spending on reducing poverty, including getting more children into school, and saving lives by improving healthcare.”

Despite Europe's recent unimpressive aid record, it still remains the largest giver of aid in the world and performs better on aid than other rich countries such as the United States and Japan. A number of individual EU members are leading the world in aid spending, but are brought down by the failures of others – including big players such as France, the UK and Italy – it's especially disappointing to see France, which will take the Presidency of the European Union in June, amongst the worst offenders.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
Alexander Woollcombe, Oxfam Media Officer
tel: +32 2 231 1663, mob: +32 486 842 407