MEPs urge EU not to ‘slash’ aid budget

6 Feb 13
A cross-party group of MEPs today raised ‘deep concern’ over proposals to make aid spending bear the brunt of cuts to the European Union’s long-term budget.

By Nick Mann | 6 February 2013

A cross-party group of MEPs today raised ‘deep concern’ over proposals to make aid spending bear the brunt of cuts to the European Union’s long-term budget.

The European Commission first published its proposals for the 2014 to 2020 budget – known as the Multilateral Financial Framework – in June 2011. Last November, European Council president Herman Van Rompuy proposed a 7.5% cut in the overall spending plan.

However, this would amount to a 13% cut in the EU’s direct aid budget for the period.

At the same time, spending via the European Development Fund – the EU’s main tool for development aid spending in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific islands – would total €26.9bn and not €30.3bn as previously planned – an 11% cut. Although the EDF is not part of the main EU budget, its spending plans will be agreed as part of the long-term budget discussions.

In a letter sent to ministers from EU states before stalled talks resume tomorrow on the long-term budget, the MEPs highlighted their ‘deep concern’ about Van Rompuy’s plans for ‘substantial reductions’ to the aid budget. ‘The latest draft budget proposal to be tabled would slash development aid and humanitarian assistance by almost €10bn, to €60.6bn,’ they wrote.

EU aid has been recognised as among the ‘most efficient, effective and transparent in the world’, and costs each European only €0.50 a week, they noted.

‘There are not many investments that, with so little money, have such a strong impact on the world’s poorest, and at the same time represent an investment in the future of Europe,’ they wrote. Figures published by campaign group One suggest the original commission proposal would increase EU gross domestic product by €11.5bn by 2020.

‘Any agreements on the MFF should protect this investment, which represents only 6% of the total budget and has significant impact. In the past five years it paid for more than 10 million children to go to primary school and provided 32 million with clean water,’ the letter stated.

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