Spanish NGOs blast the Commission for scaling down EU aid in Latin America

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EU Cooperation Policy with Latin America is currently under the spotlight as the new EU overseas aid policy will strip middle-income countries of development financial aid.

Latin America’s fast economic growth will leave some of its nations out of Europe’s aid scope.

In an attempt to improve aid effectiveness, Brussels wants EU funding to target the 48 least-developed countries in the world, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

But Spanish anti-poverty campaigners are warning that EU proposals will have a negative impact on needy people in emerging economies, most of them stricken by inequality and large pockets of poverty.

The Spanish government is also concerned that the new European strategy will abruptly reduce Spain’s traditionally strong position and influence in the region.

‘We are lobbying hard to also target middle-income economies as EU aid recipients. Otherwise, Spain and Portugal will have no say in future cooperation and development aid frameworks’, said Partido Popular’s International Cooperation and Development adviser Francisco Quesada Benavente.

‘We usually work with Health-related issues, particularly with HIV prevention and treatment. We can see that the incidence rate of those diseases in emerging economies in Latin America is very high. This is mainly because the main channels of contagion are inequality, violence and homophobia, and there is plenty of those in Latin America. It is not only about cash, we need policies too’, said Salud por Derecho Foundation’s advocacy officer Trinidad García.

Known as the Agenda for Change, Brussels’ new policy will also encourage private investment as an alternative to more conventional cash donations.

But despite welcoming Europe’s efforts to improve efficiency, NGO’s and civil society fear that commercial interests might undermine poverty-eradication goals.

‘We cannot break the existing architecture of cooperation and development policies and completely change their core. Letting private commercial interests get in the way would be a mistake. We should think of those countries as strategic regions, as partners’, PSOE’s International Cooperation and Development Committee member in the Spanish Parliament Federico Buyolo García.

‘Private investment needs to be regulated. We welcome it if this investment will benefit people from the region. We strongly question any other motivation’, said Salud por Derecho Foundation’s advocacy officer Trinidad García.

In times of austerity, money is becoming a challenge for Brussels. The Commission justifies EU aid spending because of the return on investment for Europe.

Investing in developing nations could increase exports, reduce immigration and terrorism in the EU, the Commission says.

How and who gets the money, however, is always a thorny issue.

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