Germany’s 2015 budget leaves overseas aid ‘by the wayside’

GAVI workers administer vaccines to children in Burundi. 2013 [Ken Opprann/Norad/Flickr]

GAVI workers administer vaccines to children. Burundi, 2013. [Ken Opprann/Norad/Flickr]

The Bundestag’s 2015 budget plan includes a €1.8 million increase in funds for development cooperation. However, civil society organisations are criticising the sum as being marginal, calling for a considerably larger increase. EURACTIV Germany reports.

For the first time since 1969, the German government has tabled a budget plan without any new debt.

The “black zero” stands for reliability, said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble on Tuesday (9 September) at the start of budget negotiations in the Bundestag.

Allocations for the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in the country’s 2015 budget, are outlined under the section, “Einzelplan 23”.

The section features a comprehensive list of the BMZ’s income and expenditures according to origin and destination.

Within the German government, the BMZ functions as the coordinator for public development cooperation (ODA). It is responsible for allocating the largest share of ODA-related funds.

According to the draft budget, funding in Einzelplan 23 is meant to “keep Germany on a steady financing track, contributing 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) to ODA”.

After the first budget reading in the Bundestag, a number of NGOs criticised the “marginal increase” in funding for development cooperation by only €1.8 million to a total of €6.44 billion.

“In this way, Germany is continuing to let development cooperation fall by the wayside,” said a joint press release submitted by the civil society organisations ONE, Plan International Deutschland e.V., Stiftung Weltbevölkerung, Save the Children and World Vision. The group is calling for a considerably larger increase in funds.

The German government has made an international pledge to invest 0.7% of annual GNI in development cooperation until 2015. But instead of working toward this goal, NGOs fear the government will continue to reduce the percentage.

With the 2013 share at only 0.38% of GNI, Germany’s contribution remains far from the 0.7% target.

One of the organisations’ demands is that the Bundestag increase Germany’s annual contribution for the vaccine alliance GAVI from €45 million to €100 million – an amount that would be similar to contributions from donor-countries of comparable economic size.

Every year, 1.5 million children die of diseases that could be prevented by vaccination. GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, is a public-private partnership located in Geneva, Switzerland.

The alliance’s target is to save children’s lives and improve the livelihoods of people in poverty stricken countries by offering access to vaccines. Since 2000, the organisation has immunised 440 million children, preventing an estimated 6 million deaths.

But GAVI depends on additional funding to expand its reach.

“As host of the ‘replenishment conference’ in January 2015, Germany must lead by example and provide greater financial support to GAVI”, the five organisations emphasised.

During the last G7 summit in early June, member states – including Germany – called for greater financial support for the vaccine alliance. GAVI’s plan to vaccinate an additional 300 million children by 2020 was especially well-received by the G7 states.

In 2005, EU member states pledged to increase Official Development Assistance (ODA) to 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2015 and included an interim target of 0.56% ODA/GNI by 2010.

These were based on individual targets of 0.7% ODA/GNI for the EU 15 and 0.33% GNI for the 12 Member States which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, according to the European Commission.

EU countries that were already at or above 0.7% ODA/ GNI pledged to sustain their efforts. The EU Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their commitment to reach the 0.7% target by 2015 at the European Council on 7/8 February 2013.

A Eurobarometer survey from October 2012, said that 85% of polled EU citizens believed that Europe should continue donating aid to developing countries.

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