Valletta: Africa Trust Fund must help people, not build barriers

Published: 12th November 2015

The Valletta summit's declaration on migration pays lip service to people’s rights and dignity, and leaves grave doubts as to how Europe will in fact improve the lives people in Africa. While EU and African leaders met in Valletta, more people drowned in the sea, razor-wire fences were being erected in Slovenia and Sweden was implementing border controls.

The summit's centerpiece, the EU Trust Fund for Africa, risks blurring the lines between development aid for lifting people out of poverty, and money to bolster African states’ border control.  Oxfam calls on the EU and its member states to make clear guarantees that the fund will be used to help vulnerable people, not build barriers.

Oxfam’s migration policy lead in Malta, Sara Tesorieri, said: “The EU Trust Fund for Africa must have a clear separation between development aid and security cooperation envelopes – these have different objectives and do not belong in the same pot. Furthermore, the Fund needs to be explicit about the standards it will apply to non-development projects, especially to ensure respect of people’s rights.”

Oxfam also warned against making aid to Africa conditional on cooperation on border control. The leaders’ statement from Valletta has declared saving lives and respecting human rights as priorities, and acknowledges the benefits of migration and mobility. However, the European Commission made clear that the EU is mobilizing all means, including development assistance, to incentivize African countries to cooperation on returning people from Europe to Africa.

“EU and African leaders have agreed on many fine words at Valletta. Now they need to live up to them. This will be impossible if the EU continues to prioritize its border security over its fundamental values. Aid is for helping people, not bribing governments,” said Tesorieri.

Oxfam is also concerned that the Trust Fund is set up while the overall EU development budget faces cut backs and an overall reduction in aid to Africa: in parallel to the Valletta Summit, officials from EU member states have been meeting in Brussels to discuss slashing the EU draft budget for 2016.

Currently, for every euro spent by the EU, less than 2 cents goes to programs fighting extreme poverty – yet proposed cuts would reduce the EU’s chief fund for poverty eradication by nearly a quarter. 

“While European leaders have been shaking hands and promising greater development cooperation with their African counterparts, their representatives in Brussels have been working to cripple the EU’s ability to fund such cooperation,” said Tesorieri.


Notes to editors

Official Development Assistance: 

The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has measured resource flows to developing countries since 1961. Special attention has been given to the official and concessional part of this flow, defined as “official development assistance” (ODA). The DAC first defined ODA in 1969, and tightened the definition in 1972. ODA is the key measure used in practically all aid targets and assessments of aid performance.

The DAC defines ODA as “those flows to countries and territories on the DAC List of ODA Recipients and to multilateral institutions which are:

i. provided by official agencies, including state and local governments, or by their executive agencies; and

ii. each transaction of which:

a)  is administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective; and
b)  is concessional in character and conveys a grant element of at least 25 per cent (calculated at a rate of discount of 10 per cent).”

EU 2016 budget negotiations: 

In September, the General Assembly of the United Nations agreed to an ambitious set of Global Goals to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. 

The ongoing negotiations on the EU Budget for 2016 are the first opportunity for the European Union to set the path towards the achievement of these Goals. Yet, EU Member States are calling for cuts to external spending – which includes, crucially, aid to the poorest – to the tune of EUR 163,4 million in commitments and EUR 450,4 million in payments. 

A third of proposed cuts to the overall 2016 draft budget fall on Heading 4 (external action), even though it only accounts for roughly 6% of EU budget. They represent the deepest cuts made to any policy area. Within Heading 4, the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) – funding for poverty eradication – is the most affected with a proposed 24% reduction in commitments and 32% in payments. 

UN Secretary General statement on proposed reductions to development aid: 


Contact information

Attila Kulcsar | Humanitarian Media Officer | | +447471 142974 | Twitter @attilalondon

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