UK threatens to block EU aid money in Brexit spat

18 Jul 18

The UK is threatening to block aid money to European Union projects after Brexit if Brussels excludes British aid agencies from its work.

International development secretary Penny Mordaunt said yesterday that the European Commission is discriminating against British agencies, potentially harming a future partnership with the UK.

She told the International Development Committee that Brussels has told UK aid agencies and charities that they will be dropped from aid projects if Britain leaves the bloc without a deal next year.

Threatening to pull British funding from EU programmes in the future, Mordaunt said: “We are shocked and disappointed by this behaviour, which does not set a good precedent for any future partnership.”

She added that the draft withdrawal agreement confirms that agencies have the right to participate in EU development programmes during the transition.

“However, this is clearly not being adhered to,” she said.

She added: “We have clear evidence of discrimination, and that cannot continue, it is not in good faith.”

The UK has committed to spending about £4bn on the EU’s humanitarian projects until December 2020, she said.

But after this period, Mordaunt said that it is unclear whether UK aid will be delivered through European programmes.

Britain’s International Development department and aid NGOs are among the most respected and best financed in Europe, with around 20% of total EU humanitarian aid spending handled by UK-based agencies, she told the committee.

The secretary of state added: “We are clear that the European Commission must remove these disclaimers it is using to hinder British aid organisations from delivering the common goal of alleviating poverty, which would hit the world’s poorest people hardest.”

Earlier this year, PF International revealed that a number of British NGOs had moved to The Hague because they fear losing EU funding if they stay in the UK.

Bond, a UK network for international development organisations, told PF International in May that the EU had said UK organisations may not be eligible to receive funding post Brexit unless it receives assurances that Britain will continue to fund European projects

According to Bond’s figures from 2016, NGOs based in the UK could lose up to €357m every year from the EU in the case of a “hard” or no deal Brexit.

Read our blog on what Brexit means for UK aid, written by campaigners from the anti-poverty One Campaign.

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