Proposed EU development budget increase won’t help to fight poverty

Published: 11th July 2018

Today, EU member states have published their position on the 2019 EU budget. While they propose a spending increase of 10 percent for the EU’s external policies compared to this year’s budget, governments are focusing on the wrong issues, Oxfam, Save the Children, DSW and IPPF EN say. The organizations argue a strong focus on human development is needed to counter increasing inequalities and make sure no one is left behind.

The alliance of four organisations working on development and humanitarian aid said:

“Whilst EU member states are proposing an overall increase to the 2019 EU budget for external action, we are concerned to see cuts in areas which would actually reach the people most in need.

“The fight against poverty and inequality must not become an afterthought. The EU proposes to divert ever more development money to stop migration, ignoring the actual needs of people. Member states should instead increase funds for health, education, social protection and gender equality, which are vital for human development.

“With a large chunk of the humanitarian budget going into the EU-Turkey refugee deal, there is little money left to support people in places like Yemen – the world’s largest humanitarian crisis – or in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“The EU is undermining its role as a global player in sustainable development with these inward-looking policies. Beyond the 2019 budget, the stakes are even higher when we look at the EU’s proposed long-term budget framework. We can clearly see a worrying shift towards crisis management over long-term development.”

Notes to editors

  • This is a joint reaction of Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW), International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN), Oxfam, Plan International and Save the Children.
  • Spokespeople are available for interviews and background info.
  • The Council position on the EU budget for 2019 foresees an increase of heading 4 of the EU budget – the budget heading for external action – by 10,02 percent compared to the 2018 budget. This is 3,08 percent less compared to the Commission’s draft budget.
  • There are 3 main reasons for this increase:
    • Significantly more money for the ‘European Neighbourhood Instrument’ (ENI), which is used to respond to migration.
    • The second tranche to be paid to Turkey under the EU-Turkey deal on migration, channelled through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and the humanitarian aid budget line (HUMA).
    • Pledges made at the Brussels Syria Conference to increase EU funding for the people suffering from the Syria conflict.
  • The increase for the ENI and the money to be paid to Turkey highlight how the EU’s external budget is increasingly focusing on tackling migration and strengthening Europe’s borders.
  • In its ‘Consensus for Development’, the EU has committed to dedicate at least 20 percent of its total official development assistance (ODA) to human development and social inclusion. According to the ‘2017 Annual Report On the implementation of the European Union’s instruments for financing external action’, the EU failed to reach the 20 percent target in the years 2014-2016, spending only 16.8% on human development. The current funds dedicated to social inclusion and human development continue to be not sufficient to meet the 20 percent benchmark.
  • The EU is currently discussing its budget framework for the coming years. The ‘Multiannual Financial Framework’ (MFF) will determine the priorities, architecture and the financial amounts for the years 2021-2027. The proposed new structure of the budget shows that EU development cooperation is going through a major transformation as the political context in Europe has become more inward-looking. Migration and security preoccupations, and attracting private sector investment for development – not always with sufficient safeguards in place – have become the EU’s new priorities.

Contact information

Florian Oel | Oxfam | | office +32 2 234 11 15 | mobile +32 473 56 22 60

Jenny Dare | Save the Children | | mobile +32 4 70 29 41 99

Eoghan Walsh | DSW | | mobile +32 4 85 39 94 43

Cosmina Marian | IPPF European Network | | office +32 2 250 09 67 | mobile +32 485 339 380

For updates, please follow @Oxfam and @OxfamEU