EU budget a hostage to contradictory approach of Parliament

The European Parliament voted today to increase funds for human development in the EU budget for 2019, yet continued to reorient money meant for humanitarian assistance and poverty eradication to migration management. 

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

“We welcome MEPs voting to increase the funds that should support education, public health and gender equality in developing countries. However, for the fifth year in a row, the EU has failed to reach its own goal of allocating 20 percent of its aid budget to these vital areas. We are concerned that the EU continues to prioritize migration management at the expense of humanitarian action and sustainable development.

“Millions of people are affected by conflict and climate change, and they need urgent, life-saving humanitarian assistance. Yet a significant amount of the EU’s humanitarian budget is still spent on migration management initiatives including the EU-Turkey deal – which was created to keep people fleeing Syria out of Europe. 

“Despite an overall increase in EU funds for external action, there is insufficient support for people in countries such as Yemen – the world’s largest humanitarian crisis – or in Sub-Saharan Africa. The EU should ensure that humanitarian assistance is meets the level of need, and that it is used for its primary purpose: to save lives and alleviate human suffering.

“Beyond the 2019 budget, the EU is undermining its global standing on human rights and sustainable development. The proposed long-term budget demonstrates that the EU is reacting to global trends in crisis management mode rather than through considered, long-term planning. Pouring money into European neighborhood policies to try to stop migration to Europe instead of supporting people to lift themselves out of poverty is unacceptable.” 

Notes to editors: 
  • Development and humanitarian aid are part of heading 4 of the EU budget – the budget heading for external action.
  • In a positive move, the European Parliament voted to restore the cuts proposed by the member states.
  • It also voted to increase the budget for human development – that is support for issues like education, public health and gender equality – by EUR 60mn. To meet the 20 percent benchmark of the EU’s current ‘Multi-annual Financial Framework’ (MFF), an increase of EUR 111mn would be needed.
  • The EU is currently discussing the new 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 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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