Austerity driven Europe could miss UN development goals

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Eradicate extreme poverty, achieve universal primary education and combat HIV. These are only a few of the proposals made by the UN in 2000 to free people from multiple deprivations. This pledge turned into the eight Millennium Development Goals.

13 years later, as Europe lives on of the worst crisis in decades, economic and fiscal pressure will see many member states missing their targets in fighting poverty reduction. Europe fears that foreign aid will be among the first casualties of long-term austerity measures.

‘This budget reduction goes against the principles of the European solidarity that we have always supported. Having to choose between fighting poverty in a European country or overseas is a complete trap’, said social democrat MEP Ricardo Cortes.

Despite the economic crisis, the European Parliament will present a non-binding resolution in April calling for EU governments to live up to their commitment to devote 0.7% of their gross national income to development aid.

‘We don’t share this vision of cutting the budget for development aid. This is a mistake. According to Eurostat surveys, over 85% of the European population wants to continue helping those countries in need’, said social democrat MEP Ricardo Cortes.

Only a few months before the United Nations agrees on the next Millennium Development goals, due to expire in 2015, the focus of the debate has shifted to the new up comers in the global scene.

Emerging economies have blurred the dividing lines between developed and developing nations. But experts warn that deciding which countries need help only according to their GDP is a mistake.

‘The world is undergoing big transformations that will see the distribution of development aid changing in the future.

But we cannot classify countries only because of their GDP. This is a mistake. Some countries that have reached middle income levels have recently gradually graduated out of an aid recipient position. However, their reality has more to do with other indicators, for instance inequality or vulnerability’, said social democrat MEP Ricardo Cortes.

According to UN data, almost half of the world’s population lives with less than 2 dollars a day.

The EU is collectively the largest aid donor in the world. However, the upcoming months will be crucial in defining how generous Europe wants to be in its fight against poverty.

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