EU budget cuts could cost lives in developing countries, warn NGOs

Published: 20th November 2012

Joint NGO press release by Oxfam, CONCORD, Plan and ONE

Brussels, 20 November 2012 - Leading NGOs call on EU leaders to protect EU development aid against short-sighted cuts ahead of this week’s special EU Budget summit.

Cuts tabled last week disproportionately target EU development and humanitarian aid, a clear attempt to balance the EU’s books on the backs of the world’s poor. In their attempts to reach agreement on the next 7-year EU budget, EU member states must preserve EU aid, a smart investment that represents just 6% of the overall budget.

“We could be seeing some large aid cuts of up to €9.6 billion. This would be a mistake as in times of crisis investment in poverty reduction and development is even more well-founded and important for global stability. By acting together, the EU as a donor is able to provide more added value, achieve greater impact, cheaply” said Olivier Consolo, Director of Concord, the European confederation of Relief and Development NGOs.

“Spending less than €0.50 per citizen per week is a sound investment in our common future and 85% of EU citizens support it. Cutting aid to the world’s poorest countries by almost 10% is a damaging attempt to balance the EU’s budget on the backs of the world’s poor” said Natalia Alonso, Head of Oxfam International's EU Office.

“For the EU to turn its back on developing countries now would risk undoing the good progress towards poverty reduction which has been made in recent years. It is clear that there are few ‘friends of development’ among EU member states, who are effectively using life-saving aid as a bargaining chip in their negotiations” said Karen Schroh, Head of Plan EU Office.

“EU aid is effective and makes a huge difference to the world’s poorest.  But it will also more than pay for itself by 2020.  The latest research shows that as well as boosting GDP in sub-Saharan Africa and globally, EU taxpayers would recoup the funds for the world’s poorest with a 20% return on investment.  There’s just no good reason to cut aid.”, said Eloise Todd, Brussels Director of ONE

In just six years, EU aid has made a lasting difference in the lives of millions and helped them out of poverty: 50 million people were stopped from being hungry, more than nine million children have enrolled in primary education, more than five million have been vaccinated against measles and more than 31 million people have been connected to drinking water.

Notes to editors

  1. The latest negotiating paper being considered by EU governments to agree the EU budget 2014-2020 calls for aid cuts of up to €9.6 billion, compared to the proposals by the EU Commission & EU Parliament. Most affected would be the European Development Fund (EDF), the largest part of the EU aid budget that targets African countries. The EDF is facing a cut of 11% or €3.335billion while the overall cut is 7%.

  2. The positive results and effectiveness of EU aid have been cited by many independent reports.  Reviews by institutions including the Center for Global Development and Brookings Institution, and the OECD have also ranked EU aid highly. Publish What You Fund’s 2012 Aid Transparency Index ranked the European Commission’s DG Development and Cooperation (DG DEVCO) 5th out of 72 aid organisations across 43 indicators.

  3. Support for EU aid remains strong among European citizens. The results of a Eurobarometer survey released in October show that 85% of EU citizens believe that Europe should continue helping developing countries despite the economic crisis, while almost two thirds believe that aid to developing countries should be increased. It is telling that this support remains strong in Greece, Spain and Ireland – the European countries most affected by the crisis.

  4. A report published last week by the Overseas Development Institute, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and ONE, looking at the economic impact of EU aid on donor and recipient countries, can be downloaded from

Contact information

For more information please contact:

Daniel Puglisi, CONCORD, Tel. 32 (0) 2 743 87 77 or 

Gaelle Bausson, Oxfam International EU Office, +32 473 562 260 or

Louise Hagendijk, Plan International EU Office, +32 470 59 80 62 or

Dudley Curtis, ONE Brussels’ Office, +32 485 379945 or