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Report says EU Aid To Developing Countries At Risk - 2004-04-27

A new report by the development group Action Aid, a London-based anti-poverty group, says the European Union?s aid to the developing world may be put at risk by the EU?s expansion. The report is called ?What Future for Development Policy ?? ? and can be found on the groups web page at:

The organization is expected to add 10 new members this year, and Action Aid says they will probably compete with countries outside the union for financial support and other resources. Louise Hilditch heads the group?s European office in Brussels. She says the EU will conduct negotiations for a new budget for 2007-13 amid tight cash limits. The main contributors to the budget already favor restricting spending to one per cent of the Union's gross national income. The report quotes one MEP: "The proposals for one per cent will hit development and hit the poorest regions."

Ms. Hilditch says the budget's sharpest test will come from growing security concerns and especially the war on terror and weapons of mass destruction. She warns that the world's poorest nations could lose vital money which would weaken major plans to cut poverty: "The report clearly indicates that security, trade and new neighbour policies will require more resources. Yet the largest net contributors to the EU budget ? Britain, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands - are proposing fewer. Allocations by country and activity must be made on the basis of poverty indicators - not the EU?s own security agenda. Funds should be clearly earmarked for development. And new priorities require new resources, rather than a raid on money to fight poverty.?

English to Africa reporter William Eagle spoke with a spokeswoman for Action Aid, Louise Hilditch.