On 26-27 May 2008, European Development Ministers will meet at the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) in Brussels to discuss aid and development. Yet as a new report by NGOs campaigners across Europe reveals, European governments’ aid efforts are continuing to fail the poor to the tune of €75bn. The report, No Time to Waste, published by CONCORD, the European confederation of relief and development NGOs whose members represent over 1,600 NGOs supported by millions of citizens across Europe, reveals that on current trends the European Union (EU) will have given €75bn less in aid by 2010 than it promised, threatening progress on the UN Millennium Development Goals set for 2015. If the recent record of slow progress continues, Europe will find it harder to meet its target with every year that passes.
The official statistics, released by the OECD in April, showed that European aid fell sharply in 2007, with Belgium, France and the UK recording falls of 10-30%. According to the OECD, “most donors are not on track to meet their stated commitments to scale up aid and will need to make unprecedented increases to meet the targets they have set.” CONCORD’s report has found that European governments continue to “inflate” their aid statistics with debt relief and refugee costs. The report reveals that the 15 older Member States provided only 0.33% of their gross national income as genuine aid in 2007 – continuing to miss the target set for 2006 of 0.39% of GNI.
The report says the EU must also roll up its sleeves on the quality of its aid, making it accountable and transparent. The EU has committed to make aid work better by making it more predictable, better coordinated, and aimed at promoting gender equality and women’s’ empowerment, but NGOs are concerned that these targets are not being met and that more ambitious commitments are needed. 2008 is a crucial year for aid, testing the credibility of European governments. At the High Level Ministerial Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra, Ghana this coming September, the EU will review its progress against crucial commitments made in 2005 in Paris.
When European Ministers will meet next week, members of CONCORD and campaigners of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) will stand outside the Council of the European Union in Brussels holding a huge banner to raise their voices against the continuing massive aid gap during. European NGOs join the OECD and the European Commission in calling on European governments to honour their promises and commit to clear, measurable, binding timetables setting out the year-on-year aid increases in aid that are necessary for the MDGs to be met.