On the eve of an EU Development Ministers meeting in Luxemburg, Action Aid, Eurodad and Oxfam have launched a new hard hitting report which names and shames European governments whose aid commitments, trade and debt policies are failing the poorest countries.
The new report titled “EU Heroes and Villains: Which countries are living up to their promises on aid, trade, and debt? (pdf -119 k) highlights the discrepancy between some generous aid donors. Sweden already gives more than 0.7% of its national income in aid, the UN target for halving world poverty by 2015. In comparison the Italians are the most miserly, contributing just 0.17 per cent, Germany will not reach the 0.7 per cent target until 2087, and Ireland has just reneged on its commitment to meet 0.7% by 2007.
The report calls on the EU to commit to hitting the 0.7% target by 2010 but also calls on donors to improve the quality of their aid, with the Greeks giving just one euro in fifteen to the poorest countries and 92% of Italian aid tied to Italian goods and services.
The G7 Finance Ministers meeting in London showed that, when it wants to, Europe can act together and bring the rest of the G7 on board to have a strong financing package in 2005 in order to meet the MDGs. The report calls on the EU to go further and work with the G7 towards 100% debt cancellation for the poorest countries that now pay $100 million a day in debt repayments.
The report argues that Europe has the opportunity to show leadership and act as a catalyst to pressure other stingy donors, such as the US and Japan, to push for a real breakthrough on aid in 2005.
Louise Hilditch of Action Aid International said:
“As one of the world’s richest and most powerful trading blocs, it is unacceptable that EU countries’ aid, debt and trade policies are so far away from what is required to make poverty history. They are offering little more than crumbs to some of the poorest countries who receive less aid today than they did forty years ago from the EU."
Alex Wilks of Eurodad said:
“Of the €295 billion owed by 52 poor countries, only €36 billion has been cancelled. European countries have the opportunity to show leadership in consigning poor countries’ debt to a thing of the past. Instead, they are dragging their heels and endangering the success of the Millennium Development Goals.”
On trade, as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) continues to devastate livelihoods in developing countries, France remains an obstacle by blocking essential reforms which include an end to agricultural export subsidies. The report concludes that despite some small and tentative steps forwards, Europe has largely failed to make any contribution designed to make trade work for poor people.
Jo Leadbeater of Oxfam concluded:
“We know today that unless we act now, 45 million extra children will die needlessly by 2015, because rich countries are failing to provide the necessary resources they promised. Europe can be the world leader in the fight against poverty. But for this to happen, we need to see concrete changes in an increase in aid, a joint effort on debt relief, and steps to make trade fair for poor countries”.
For more information please call Louis Bellanger on +32 2 502 03 91.
Note to editors
The Millennium Development Goals are a commitment by global leaders to halve poverty and hunger, provide education for all, improve standards of health, halt the spread of major diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and slow down environmental degradation by 2015.
EU Heroes and Villains: Which countries are living up to their promises on aid, trade, and debt? (pdf -119 k)
Global Call to Action Against Poverty