Six reasons why EU leaders must not cut aid
21 October 2014
The European Union’s development and humanitarian aid programmes are suffering a cash crisis in 2014 and risk severe cuts in the 2015 EU budget negotiations.
CONCORD, the European confederation of Relief and Development NGOs, encourages European leaders to have a re-think and realize the value of EU development and humanitarian aid. We want the European Parliament and Member States to reaffirm their support for both EU humanitarian and development aid through passing a robust budget for 2015 which allows for timely and predictable funding.
1. External action accounts for only 6% of the total EU budget but it enables the EU to maintain its position as the largest donor of humanitarian and development aid in the world and to project itself as a champion of human rights.
2. It’s a lifesaver and life-changer: in the last decade, EU aid has helped31 million people gain access to safe access to drinking water, vaccinated 5 million children against measles and stopped 24 million people from going hungry, gave more than 9 million children a primary education, equipped 2.1 million rural people with modern energy services, helped protect more than 1.5 million hectares of forest, and much more. It addresses complex global challenges which require a multi-dimensional approach and strong support from multilateral actors such as the EU and is vital to ensure that crises (such as Ebola) are prevented and thereby contained.
3. It’s not expensive: development and humanitarian aidin the EU budget 2014-2020 costs not more than 1€ a month per European citizen.
4. It’s popular and widely supported by European citizens: 85% of EU citizens support development aid, despite economic difficulty at home, according to an official Eurobarometer survey.
5. It’s worldwide: it targets people in developing countries across the world, from Africa to Asia.
6. It fosters peace, prosperity and well-being for all in an interdependent world. Investing in development cooperation based on a human rights-based approach; and meeting needs of vulnerable population through humanitarian aid is an investment in a peaceful and sustainable future.
Possible impact on the ground
The draft budget 2015 proposed by the Commission would not be able to cover all unpaid bills that have been carried over from 2014 as well as the payments to cover the new commitments for the coming year. The Council seems to be willing to cut the payment credits even further despite existing unpaid obligations, which is simply irresponsible.
Lack of payment resources is undermining the capacity of the EU Commission to engage new commitments and to implement the new priorities of the Development Cooperation Instrument.
The EU will not be able to honour some commitments with partner countries like Honduras or Pakistan in the framework of the budget support provided. Delaying these payments could have both a negative political impact as well as important consequences on their financial and macro-economic situation while undermining the EU’s credibility .
This would further enhance the instability in already fragile countries or create political tensions which could affect not only development policy but also other EU policies in these countries.
Important development projects could be jeopardized and years of investments in development policy will be lost in countries like Afghanistan. The political repercussions and internal impact on the EU will be huge.
In addition, the shortage of payment credits could force the Commission to put in place practices that can harm civil society organisation’s actions and financial stability and could easily result in early closures of projects and loss of jobs for smaller, local NGOs.
We therefore call on the European Parliament and Member States to support the request of the Commission to increase the payment appropriations for 2014 to reduce the deficit and ensure projects can be paid for, and to adopt a 2015 budget with payment levels as proposed in the European Commisssion’s amending letter of 15 October as a minimum.
 Development Cooperation Instrument, , European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, European Neighbourhood Instrument, Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace and Humanitarian Aid 2014-2020.