Almost all European countries are making cuts in their aid programmes to the developing world, according to new figures released in April by the OECD. 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%).
Only 3 European countries 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 also 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% of gross national income 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. Francois Hollande said he is in favour of 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.