Many EU countries show a fall in development aid budgets since 2011.

According to figures released by the OECD earlier this year on 4th April 2012 many European countries made cuts in their aid programs to the developing world.

For the first time since the start of the financial crisis, 12 EU countries have slashed their aid budgets. The biggest cuts were in Spain (-32.7%) and Greece (-39.3%), with substantial decreases in Belgium (-13.3%) and Austria (-14.3%).

For CONCORD, this was a cause for concern. “European countries should not turn their backs to the over 3 billion people living on less than $2.50 a day,”

“European countries are cutting aid faster than their economies are shrinking. We could see Europe entering an age of aid austerity, pulling back from supporting millions of poor people in developing countries. European governments are understandably under pressure, but they should realize how important development programmes can be to tackle global poverty and to support developing countries to cope with the impact of the financial crisis.” says Olivier Consolo, Director of CONCORD, the European Confederation of Relief and Development NGOs.

Only 3 European countries that are members of the DAC increased aid spending in 2011: Italy (33%), Sweden (10.5%), Germany (5.9%).

“The striking surge in Italian aid is largely due to the injection of inflated aid, namely debt relief and refugees costs. For this reason, we estimate that the total volume should be discounted by 18%. The national government has a real responsibility to bring Italian aid back on track. We call on the newly appointed Development Minister to take urgent actions to make sure that Italy fully plays its role as one of the G8 and G20 club members.” says Luca de Fraia, from CONCORD’s AidWatch monitoring group and
ActionAid Italy.

Some major donors are playing games with aid commitments, only increasing them the year before international targets such as in 2010.

“French aid is not getting any better. In 2010 France increased its aid to 0.50% to appear as a good donor that is meeting the EU aid target. Now in 2011 it has decreased aid to 0.46%, the same as in 2009. Both French Presidential candidates Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande said they favour aid but France is far off target to reaching their stated commitment of giving 0.7% of GNI to development assistance,” says Jean-Louis Vielajus, President of Coordination Sud, the French development NGO federation.