Oxfam reaction to EU Summit: Copenhagen & G20

Published: 20th March 2009

EU heads of state and government met on 19-20 March in Brussels to agree Europe’s position for the upcoming G20 summit in London as well as for the international climate talks ahead of the UN summit in Copenhagen in December, where a global deal is to be decided.Elise Ford, head of Oxfam International’s EU office, said:“Europe is turning its back on poor countries just when they need help most. At a crucial time just ahead of the G20 Summit in London, the EU is empty-handed and in no fit state to lead the world on the two biggest issues we face today – the economic and climate crisis. Europe’s approach is putting millions of lives and livelihoods at peril.”

Europe’s position for Copenhagen summit

“Europe’s leaders are failing us. The latest science shows climate change will bring economic and social devastation in just a few short decades yet our politicians are sitting on their hands.”“By refusing to put money on the table to help developing countries adapt to the effects of global warming and develop in a low carbon way, the EU risks undermining any chance of a global climate deal.”“Waiting for the US to move first on the money issues is far from leadership. We expect Europe to set the bar on adaptation finance: by remaining silent, there is no pressure on the US to make a strong offer. This makes it harder for progressive voices in the US to drive the agenda forward.”“EU leaders must use Obama’s visit to Europe in April to pressure the US on both emissions and finance, and to raise their own game dramatically.”"The EU says it will pay its fair share of adaptation monies needed by poor countries, but instead of putting numbers down and building trust, it's using the issue as a bargaining chip. This is just another example of the EU back-pedaling on the fragile agreement struck in Bali, where rich countries agreed to action on adequate and predictable financial resources."[Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, has accused the EU of breaking an agreement made in Bali in 2007 by trying to set further preconditions before they agree mitigation funds for developing countries.]

Europe’s position for G20 Summit


“While the EU’s commitment to provide a voluntary loan of €75 million to the IMF is welcome, this has been a missed opportunity to push forward the debate on improving the representation of developing countries in the Fund. The EU could have demonstrated its willingness to end its monopoly over the post of IMF managing director. We also needed the EU to push for guarantees that part of the funding would be available for low income countries, and come free of harmful conditions.”

Tax havens

“Europe has not managed to agree the co-ordinated global action that is needed to solve the problem of tax havens. Tax havens currently cost poor countries up to $124 billion a year in lost tax on individuals' incomes and many billions more as a result of tax evasion by companies. This money could and should be spent to pay for health clinics, schools and other measures to combat poverty."“While drawing up a tax haven blacklist represents an important first step, if European leaders are serious about cracking down on tax havens, they must immediately commit to a multilateral agreement which all countries can sign on to and insist on automatic exchange of information between tax authorities.These steps are vital to enable developing countries to collect the money they are due.”“The current financial crisis shows our leaders can no longer afford to stand idly by whilst tax havens take billions of euros from the pockets of taxpayers in rich and poor countries alike.”

Assistance for developing countries

“We are disappointed that EU leaders did not commit to an immediate rescue package for low-income countries equivalent to 3-5 per cent of their GDP – at least $24bn. Poor people need help now. They are the ones being hit hardest by the financial crisis they did not, in any way, cause.”"As we speak, some EU countries, such as Italy and Ireland, have cut their development aid budgets. It is vitally important that leaders of rich countries get back on-track with their aid commitments at the G20 summit."


“The commitment to fight all forms of protectionism is welcome. But it is vital that trade is regulated in a way that allows it to be used to help poor countries develop as promised at the World Trade Organization in 2001."

Europe’s approach is putting millions of lives and livelihoods at peril.
Elise Ford
Head of Oxfam's EU Advocacy Office, Brussels