EU Development Ministers hinder fight against poverty with flawed position for Addis conference

[26 May 2015] Today European Development Ministers adopted their joint position on how to finance the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ahead of July’s Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The aim of the SDGs is to not only end poverty in all forms everywhere by 2030, but also to introduce specific environmental and social goals such as reducing economic inequality.

Hilary Jeune, Oxfam’s EU policy advisor, said:

“European states insisting on emerging countries providing their ‘fair share’ while continuously failing to reach their own aid targets is a backward step. European countries know how important overseas aid is to fighting poverty and inequality, yet continue to not deliver on their promises.

“European calls for international cooperation to tackle tax dodging are welcome, but fall short of making fair tax rules a reality. If the European Union is serious about rewriting tax rules so they benefit everyone, it must call for the creation of an intergovernmental body on tax where both developing and developed countries are represented on an equal footing. It’s absurd that there are international organizations for trade, health and football - but not for tax.

“The EU seems intent on ‘blending’ public and private development funding, ensuring its own companies profit from overseas aid projects. This shift towards private sector finance risks putting public services out of reach for the poorest people, who are unable to pay the user fees associated with it. The private sector cannot and should not replace governments’ duty of providing essential services like healthcare and education, especially when safeguards to ensure this is done responsibly are not in place.

“As the European Union tries to sell its own ailing carbon trading system to developing countries as a way to curb emissions, it could be more convincing if it spent the revenues wisely. Spending some of the money raised to help poor countries adapt to climate change, and towards financing the Green Climate Fund, would give the system some much needed credibility.”

Notes to editors: 

Today’s Council Conclusions follow the publication in February 2015 of the European Commission’s Communication ‘A Global Partnership for poverty eradication and sustainable development after 2015’.

The content of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be decided at a UN Summit in New York in September, and will aim to set the international development agenda for the next 15 years. Decisions on how to finance the SDGs will be made at the Financing for Development Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been an important force for development progress over the last 13 years, with many people lifted out of extreme poverty in that time. However, this success did not primarily result from the creation of the MDGs. The progress in lifting people out of extreme poverty was driven mainly by national governments and political processes in China, India, and elsewhere - rather than in the corridors of the United Nations. Nevertheless, the Millennium Declaration and the MDGs did provide a statement of intent for the world, a tool used by progressive governments and civil society in rich and poor countries alike to push for and obtain significant increases in international aid. They also allowed civil society in many poor countries to hold their governments to account and demand progress - in the best cases by encouraging a race to the top among neighboring nations.

In 2005, 15 EU member states made clear commitments to support the MDGs by providing 0.56 percent of Gross National Income as aid by 2010, and to reach the 0.7 percent target by 2015. The same year saw another 12 EU countries commit to providing 0.17 percent of GNI as aid by 2010, and 0.33 percent of GNI by 2015.

Contact information: 

Angela Corbalan on + 32 (0) 473 56 22 60 or angela.corbalan@oxfaminternational.org

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