MEPs question member states’ commitment to development

Neven Mimica said that even if all EU countries met their aid commitments, the EU would still fall short of its development objectives. [European Parliament]

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.

Commission laments EU development aid cuts

All eyes are on the International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa this week, but the EU is still failing to meet its development targets. EURACTIV France reports

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.

French development aid falls below EU average

The French budget for official development assistance (ODA) fell for the fourth year running in 2014. The latest cut of 10% since 2013 has left French ODA below the European average. EURACTIV France reports

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.

Erik Solheim: 'If the UK can commit 0.7% of GDP to development, so can France'

The objective for developed countries to dedicate 0.7% of their GNI to development aid is becoming an increasingly important issue. The Chairman of the OECD Development Assistance Committee calls on countries such as France and Germany, but also on emerging countries like China, to increase their efforts. EURACTIV France reports

“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.”

Subscribe to our newsletters