The global development landscape is in a state of flux, but the European Union and its Member States’ inaction to achieve its commitments remains constant. Since 2005, when CONCORD began its annual AidWatch report, the EU has failed to meet internationally agreed upon aid targets. AidWatch monitors the quantity and quality of EU Official Development Assistance, or ODA. This year, CONCORD’s report shows that, with global poverty on the rise, it is more important than ever that the EU steps up its game.
By the end of 2021, 140 million more people will be pushed into extreme poverty. The pandemic has underscored the urgency of scaling-up more and better funding for ODA. In 2020, the EU’s ODA was 0.50% of its GNI – an increase from 0.42% in 2019. However, this increase was a result of the EU’s economy shrinking as a result of the global pandemic.
EU donor countries have responded unevenly. Despite pressure to cut aid budgets, some Member States exceeded the 0.7% target or considerably increased funding. These funds are critical, but stronger efforts are needed to address the growing social and economic impacts of the pandemic, especially in Least Developed Countries. Meanwhile, donors such as France and Germany, are choosing to bankroll funding through loans rather than grants – and there is growing concern that other donor countries could follow suit.
The pandemic has only compounded existing inequalities. Loans add fuel to the fire by pushing already indebted countries further into crisis with devastating consequences for key sectors of human development like education, healthcare and social inclusion.
There are also concerns that Team Europe, the EU’s response to COVID-19 in partner countries, is falling short when it comes to the EU’s commitment to make development aid effective. The entire approach lacks transparency, civil society has so far been largely shut out of the process and partner country ownership seems scant.
Without clarity on what the Team Europe Initiatives will really deliver, and what funds will be attached to them, it is hard to know if Team Europe is a transformative approach for partner countries.
Moreover, Team Europe has reinforced EU donor governments’ tendency to play politics with aid. For example, in recent years, EU migration and security agendas have diverted ODA from its core purpose of reducing inequalities by applying conditionalities that undermine sustainable development and human rights. ODA must not be a pawn to advance the EU’s short-term interests. The implementation of Global Europe, the EU’s fund of €79.5 billion for global development until 2027, must ensure a way forward that responds to the real needs that exist in communities.
More and more, ODA is marked by political objectives that may compromise the quality of EU ODA, be inconsistent with EU values and undermine the bloc as a reliable actor in international cooperation.
For nearly two decades, the AidWatch report has called – and continues to call – on the EU as a whole to urgently increase efforts to meet its own ODA targets. And, particularly in light of the European Commission’s shift from ‘international cooperation’ towards ‘equal and fair international partnerships,’ ODA must be an essential expression of solidarity with partner countries. This is about people’s lives and livelihoods, not political games.
Notes to editors:
CONCORD is the European confederation of Relief and Development NGOs, made up of 28 national associations, 23 international networks and 4 associate members that represent over 2.600 NGOs, supported by millions of citizens across Europe.
AidWatch: Since 2005, CONCORD’s annual AidWatch report monitors the quantity and quality of EU Official Development Assistance. It holds the EU accountable for their commitment to allocate 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) to ODA by 2030.
Katarzyna Krok | Communication Officer | CONCORD
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