Ministers must not stall on EU aid increase, says global anti-poverty campaign

Published: 1 November 2005

Brussels, 23 May, 2005: As EU Development Ministers meet tomorrow for talks to boost the overall level of EU aid, a civil society coalition warns that some member states may attempt to block a deal.

Brussels, 23 May, 2005: As EU Development Ministers meet tomorrow for talks to boost the overall level of EU aid, a civil society coalition warns that some member states may attempt to block a deal.

A worldwide coalition, called the ‘Global Call to Action against Poverty’, warns that Germany, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Hungary may undermine an agreement to bring the proposed EU aid level to 0.56% of overall GDP by 2010.

An agreement by the EU on aid increases is crucial ahead of the G7 Finance Ministers Meeting in June and the G8 Summit in July.

Global Call to Action against Poverty spokesperson, Kumi Naidoo, said: “We need Europe to take a lead on setting a credible timetable on aid increases to help pressure other G8-donor countries. If the EU fails to deliver, it would provide an ‘escape clause’ for reluctant countries like the US and spell disaster for future aid negotiations.”

The proposal on the table at tomorrow’s meeting is for the EU to give 0.56% of its overall GDP for development aid by 2010. However, the Global Call to Action against Poverty coalition is calling on developed countries to honor commitments they have made to meet the 0.7% target and set out binding timetables to reach this figure.

Global Call to Action against Poverty spokesperson Christiane Overkamp added: “Any member state that tries to block an agreement on reaching the modest target of 0.56% would be denying hope to the 30,000 children who die each day because of extreme poverty. The Commission’s proposal is a step in the right direction but it’s not enough. Thirty-five years ago rich countries pledged to spend 0.7% of their incomes on aid - how many more people have to die before they deliver?”

Development Ministers from several EU member states, who have reached 0.7%, or have a timetable to reach this target, will sign a large 0.7% white banner tomorrow, Tuesday 24 May, in the Commission’s Berlaymont Building, sending the message to fellow members that agreement must be reached on increased aid.

European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel will also attend the signing. Following the signing, Ministers will attend the day’s Council meeting.

If the EU agrees a binding target for 0.7%, it could exert substantial political influence over other countries who have been reluctant to agree on meaningful increase in aid.

Speaking on behalf of the Global Call to Action against Poverty, spokesperson Coumba Toure added: “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If one member blocks a deal on aid at the Council meetings they could be responsible for derailing the whole international effort to boost aid in the fight against poverty.

Contact Information

For further information:
Louis Belanger, Oxfam Press Officer, 32 473 562 260
Email: louis.belanger@oxfaminternational.org
Barbara Kwateng, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) Press Officer
32 222 402 06 or 32 476 621 018 Email: barbara.kwateng@icftu.org
· The Global Call to Action against Poverty (www. whiteband.org) is a world-wide alliance committed to pushing world leaders to live up to their promises, and to make a breakthrough on poverty in 2005. The campaign is calling on world leaders to fulfil their commitments on trade justice, more and better aid and full debt cancellation. It is also demanding transparency and accountability from all governments in their plans to eliminate poverty and reach the Millennium Development Goals.
· The alliance includes charities, trade unions, faith groups and grassroots movements active in over 70 countries across the world. Together the Global Call to Action against Poverty members represent well over 150 million people. Well-known supporters of the campaign include Nelson Mandela, Bono, Claudia Schiffer, Desmond Tutu and Scarlett Johansson.
· The Millennium Development Goals are a commitment by global leaders to halve poverty and hunger, provide education for all, improve standards of health, halt the spread of major diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and slow down environmental degradation by 2015.