The revision of the European Consensus on Development has once again thrown the spotlight on the failure of EU countries to allocate 0.7% of their gross national income (GNI) to international solidarity. EURACTIV France reports.
European lawmakers have expressed their frustration at member states’ continued failure to reach their development assistance targets. For Luxembourgish MEP Charles Goerens (ALDE group) this undermines the very credibility of the EU’s aid policy.
At a meeting of the European Parliament’s development committee dedicated to the revision of the European Consensus on Development on Thursday (27 September), MEPs questioned Development Commissioner Neven Mimica over the seriousness of member states’ commitment to development.
“It is time for some credibility. Since 2005, EU countries have systematically failed to keep their promises,” Goerens said. And this in spite of “the increasing number of crisis regions and inequalities”.
“If [this revision] becomes a mascarade, I will ask the European Parliament not to play any further part in it,” he added.
In 2005, the European Consensus on Development set the commitment to increase the EU countries’ national aid budgets to 0.7% of GNI by 2015. The consensus also fixed a “shared interim goal [of] 0.56% by 2010”.
But almost two years after the deadline, only a handful of EU countries – Sweden, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom – have actually met the objective.
And several of the EU’s biggest economies, including France, whose aid budget has fallen consistently since 2012, are a long way from the 0.7% target.
Faced with this stark reality, MEPs questioned the relevance of revising the financial targets at all.
“This threshold of 0.7%, is it still needed? The United Kingdom is one of the only European countries that respects it, and they are going to leave the EU,” said German MEP Arne Lietz (S&D group).
Norbert Neuser, one of the rapporteurs on the review, also insisted on the responsibility of member states to ensure adequate financing for development.
“The main pitfall is the member states. Are they really prepared to pay the price of this consensus?” he asked Mimica. “How much pressure are the Commission and the Parliament able to put on the member states?”
But the Commissioner replied that even if all 28 EU countries reached the 0.7% target, there would still not be enough money to cover all the EU’s development objectives.
“Change cannot be driven by official development assistance alone,” he said. “Even if we reach 0.7%, we could double or triple our aid budgets, but it would still be ten times too little to meet the global need and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”