Thursday, 7 February 2013

EU budget talks in Brussels: Aid under threat

Today and tomorrow, EU leaders meet in Brussels to decide the EU budget for 2014-2020, including the proposed €51bn of EU development aid to the world’s poorest. According to NGOs like BOND or ONE, EU aid works. Between 2004 and 2009, it helped enrol more than 9 million children in primary education, vaccinate 5.5 million children against measles, and connect more than 31 million people to clean water. If the proposed €51bn EU aid budget is adopted, in the next 7 years 15 million more children could be enrolled in school, 9 million more could be vaccinated and 51 million more people could be connected to clean water. But proposals for European aid are under serious threat.

At the last summit in November, proposed development assistance to the world’s poorest was slashed by €6.1bn. And some leaders want to make even deeper cuts that could take funds below current spending levels. Ahead of this week’s critical talks, ONE members from all over Europe have been rallying to ask European leaders to protect lifesaving EU aid at the proposed levels. In the next step of its Lifesaver campaign, ONE estimated that it would cost just 3 euro cents (or 2 pence) per week, per EU citizen to reverse proposed cuts to aid for the poorest. ONE members have therefore decided to make their small change count! In the UK, over 2000 ONE members have asked for postcards to send their 2 pence to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to protect proposals for lifesaving EU aid in the budget negotiations. In Germany, ONE members have sent postcards to Chancellor Angela Merkel, adding their 3 cents. In Brussels, the team collected by hand over 230 postcards for President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy including around 60 Brussels-based interns and young professionals who came to our meet-up last week. In France, as part of the French version of ONE’s Lifesaver campaign, “sauveteur du siècle”, ONE members have mailed more than 500 postcards to President François Hollande, urging him to make sure that, in Winter sales season, EU leaders don’t try to make savings on the back of the world’s poorest.

In parallel, ONE also estimated how much it would cost each government per year to reverse the cuts to the proposed €51bn for EU aid. For Germany that’s €174m, for the UK €113m and for France €154m – peanuts compared to overall annual government spending.

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