EU budget 2019 a missed opportunity to advance global goods

The European Parliament has approved the EU budget for 2019 in a final vote today.

Reacting to the news, Oxfam’s Deputy Director for Advocacy and Campaigns, Marissa Ryan, said:

“We welcome the EU increasing its aid for education, public health and gender equality in developing countries. But we note the spending still falls short of the Union’s own objective of allocating 20 percent of the aid budget to these vital areas.

“Meanwhile, the funding allocated for humanitarian assistance neglects the real and urgent needs of people in crises. Political pressure from member states to curb migration has resulted in money that should be spent on immediate, lifesaving humanitarian aid being re-allocated to flawed migration programs. This leaves less available to support people in war-torn Syria and Yemen, who are desperately in need

“With this budget the EU has missed an opportunity to advance its role as a global leader that protects people affected by poverty and emergencies. This is a worrying trend as the EU is now discussing its next long-term budget. This cannot be a budget where the EU focusses only on issues affecting the region, and turns away from its role as a global force for good.”

Notes to editors: 
  • Spokespeople are available for interviews and background.
  • The European Parliament and EU member states now agreed on the EU budget for 2019, after they had failed to reach an agreement in a first round of ‘trilogue’ negotiations in November.
  • The EU Budget 2019 foresees EUR 165.8 billion in commitment appropriations – a plus of 3.2 percent compared to the 2018 budget – and EUR 148.2 billion in payment appropriations – a plus of 2.4 percent compared to 2018.
  • The EU’s budget for external action is summarised under heading 4 – “EU as Global Player” with EUR 11.3 billion in commitments for 2019, an increase of 12.4 percent compared to 2018.
  • The overall budget for ‘human development’ – that is support for issues like education, public health and gender equality – is EUR 238 million, an increase by EUR 32.5 million or 15.7 percent compared to last year’s budget. This increase still fails to meet the 20-percent benchmark of the EU’s current long-term budget, the ‘Multi-annual Financial Framework’ (MFF), for which an increase of EUR 111 million would have been needed.
  • The budget for humanitarian aid will increase by 52,2 percent compared to last year,. with EUR 600 million going towards the EU-Turkey refugee deal. No extra funds were allocated to cover current or future humanitarian crises.
  • Extra funds were given to the European Neighbourhood Instrument, for the Eastern and Mediterranean partnerships respectively (with a particular increase in funding for the southern neighbourhood). These funds are allocated with the stated goal of “tackling the root causes of migration”.
  • The EU is currently discussing the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which 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 the goal of attracting private sector investment for development – not always with sufficient safeguards in place –, have become the EU’s new priorities.
Contact information: 

Florian Oel | Brussels | florian.oel@oxfam.org | office +32 2 234 11 15 | mobile +32 473 56 22 60

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