Rich EU member states under fire for being stingy

“Several EU member states are not
putting their money where their mouths
are (Photo: EU Commission)”

14.02.2005 - 17:36 CET | By Honor Mahony

A number of EU member states - some of them among the richest in the world - have been strongly criticised by development agencies for being tight-fisted.

A report published on Monday (14 February) by leading development NGOs, OXFAM, Eurodad and Action Aid, say that EU countries are not doing enough to meet a United Nations target to reduce poverty by 2015.

A commitment agreed by rich donor countries in 1970 to spend 0.7 percent of gross national income (GNI) on aid has been met by just four of the 25 EU member states - Luxembourg, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark - which the report describes as "inexcusable".

The report says that rich countries "give half as much aid, as a proportion of their income as they did in the 1960s" and notes that the EU "will be absolutely key" to making sure the world sticks to its promises.

At the top of the expenditure league are Denmark (0.84% of GNI) and the Netherlands (0.81% of GNI) but the report expresses concern about a slackening off in both countries - in 2001, Copenhagen gave 1.03 percent.

Germany and Italy come in for particular criticism at the other end of the table.

Rome spends just 0.17 per cent of its GNI while Berlin, on its current course, is only likely to fulfil the commitment by 2087.

Meanwhile, other member states, such as Portugal, Greece, Austria and Ireland, have set no date for reaching this goal or some, like the UK, have set 2013 - just two years before the UN deadline.

"That's far too late", said Louise Hilditch of Action Aid who says that much poorer new member states, such as the Czech Republic and Slovenia, are "hot on the heels of some of those laggards".

Naming and shaming

She also criticised member states for not making aid data easily available and suggested that the European Commission should "really publicise" information that national governments send in in its yearly report on development aims.

For the other strands of the report, easing unsustainable debt and making the rules of world trade fairer, the EU also does not stand up under scrutiny.

Luis Morago from Oxfam pointed out that the impact of the EU's much-lauded 'Everything but arms' initiative - which gives the world's poorest countries duty-free access for all products except arms - is "negligible".

"More than 99 per cent of products from the poorest countries were already theoretically eligible for duty-free access to Europe's markets", says the report.

Similarly, the EU's action in giving debt relief to developing countries has been slow.

Of the 295bn euro owed by 52 poor countries, only 36bn euro has been cancelled.

"European countries have the opportunity to show leadership in consigning poor countries' debt to a thing of the past. Instead, they are dragging their heels, said Alex Wilks of Eurodad, a European network on debt.

The UN Millennium Development Goals are a commitment by global leaders to halve poverty and hunger and improve standards of health by 2015.


Luis Morago of Oxfam said: "Unless we act now, 45 million extra children will die needlessly by 2015 because rich countries are failing to provide the necessary resources they promised. Europe can be the world leader in the fight against poverty.
For this to happen, we need to see concrete changes in an increase in aid, a joint effort on debt relief, and steps to make trade fair for poor countries".

With the huge debt hanging over their heads there is no way these countries will ever see even the light at the end of the tunnel. It seems to me, just cancelling the debts, many dating back to the 70's and 80's, will do much to aid these countries in getting on their feet. I hope this isn't just one more report that will go in the trash or be debated for years. This is a chance for Europe to put it's money where it's mouth is.

Posted by Dianne
2/15/2005 10:36:00 pm  
"With the huge debt hanging over their heads "...

The fat cat clan (Europe + US) are too selfish to care, even if there are some moves in the right direction at the *official policies* level (at least in Europe). But there is a big difference between *pledging* and *doing*, as we are only too well aware of.

Some years back Brazil told the World Bank to go fuck itself - it could forget the zillions of dollars loaned which meant Brazil would have to spend its entire GDP for ever just repaying the interets. Good on them: about time we rich countries cease to pretend to *give* when we are only lending.

You're right on the money about the EU putting its money where it's mouth is.

We are epxeriencing the unique chance of a near revolutianry concept of countries uniting instead of warring. Let's take advantage of this spirit and do something positive and constructive regarding this planet. 

Posted by WhyNot
2/16/2005 03:52:00 am  
In addition to cancelling the debt, I think another key issue brought up in your post is "making the rules of world trade fairer." It doesn't help to just cancel debt or give money if we don't actually fix the system that allows the rich to get richer while the poor get poorer. 

Posted by Jenni
2/16/2005 06:37:00 am  
*elbows my way into this*
hey.. why isn't the usa involved with this too... oh wait.. Bush Boy and his greedy band of followers.. opps a brainfart on my half.. 

Posted by April
2/16/2005 08:14:00 am  
hi there,

i happened to stumble onto your blog, i like your geoloc map up there. Would it be too much if i ask how to make it work. i tried put the url link, but it seems not to work on my own blog :) I don't understand most of what is says there.
thanks :) 

Posted by blindperfect
2/16/2005 08:59:00 am  
I agree with you, Jenni. I was saying, getting rid of the debt would be something we all could do immediately to at least make a difference. You are right in pointing out this will be useless if our so called 'fair trade' practices only lead to more debt. 

Posted by Dianne
2/16/2005 09:55:00 am  
LOL The US isn't pointed out this time, April, because we need to say the EU also is guilty in creating and sustaining world poverty etc.
You know the US doesn't want to be lumped with the EU. ;)
2/16/2005 10:02:00 am  
"Would it be too much if i ask how to make it work ",

Not at all. It's a French software Co, but from memory they have an "English" version on their site which works for most (but not ALL) of their site's pages.

Like most things along this line, it involves copy/paste some javascript code into your template. At least they do have this stuff working fine, unlike some. If you have problems, you can email them in English, they will reply to you in English too.

The "basic" free account looks actually much like what we have, i.e. it displays current visitors in GREEN, and disconnected visitors in RED. The only substantial *paying* advantage is fairly comprehensive statistics (but I've seen much better elsewhere - their only definite plus is the cute world-map picture).

I don't know whether I'm giving you enough of an answer to your question. If not, please email me, and I'll try my best to fill you in. 

Posted by WhyNot
2/16/2005 01:33:00 pm  
The EU could help poor countries far more effectively, quicker and better by allowing free trade in agricultural goods and abolish its subsidies and quota systems. 

Posted by Hans
2/16/2005 09:48:00 pm  
"The EU could help poor countries far more effectively "...

I'm sure you're right about this, and I confess knowing next to nothing about subsidies and quotas. Thanks for bringing this up, I'll do some research on it. In the meantime, anyone who has any info, please let us know :-) 

Posted by WhyNot
2/16/2005 10:42:00 pm  



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