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European Commission Proposes Refocusing Foreign Aid on Poorest Nations

EU Development Commissioner Andris Pielbags (file photo)
EU Development Commissioner Andris Pielbags (file photo)

The European Commission has proposed changing European Union foreign aid programs to focus more on the world's poorest nations.

In a policy paper published Thursday, EU Development Commissioner Andris Pielbags says the 27-nation EU must adapt the way it fights poverty to make sure that every euro of aid reaches those who need it most. He says EU aid programs should put recipient countries "on track to achieving sustainable and inclusive growth."

The European Union says it was the world's biggest donor last year, handing out $74 billion in foreign aid - about half of the global total.

Pielbags says future EU aid should concentrate on countries in the greatest need of external support for poverty reduction, rather than on middle-income emerging powers. He did not name any nations.

The EU commissioner says aid programs should support specific economic sectors such as sustainable agriculture and clean energy that can create opportunities for growth. He also says aid should be made conditional on recipient nations signing contracts for good governance, ensuring an emphasis on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The European Commission says it will ask EU foreign ministers to endorse the new aid proposals in early 2012.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.