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  • on 27.05.2015
  • at 03:01 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

EU: still no timeframe to reach the 0.7% ODA target 0

In the EU Council’s conclusions on the EU Commission’s Communication entitled “A Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development after 2015“, EU foreign ministers “reaffirm their collective commitment to achieve the 0.7% ODA target”, but avoid mentioning a clear deadline for reaching such a goal.

EU foreign ministers met on Tuesday in Brussels to prepare for the Third International Conference for Finance for Development scheduled for next July in Addis Ababa and to set out a number of guiding principles in order to achieve a far-reaching Post-2015 Agenda, which has the goal of eradicating poverty in all its forms and achieving sustainable development.

Attention was high among civil society for the EU ministers’ negotiations, in particular concerning the re-commitment to the target of 0.7 % of gross national income for official development assistance (ODA). But the resulting document confirmed the suspicions of many NGOs, led by the European confederation of Relief and Development NGOs Concord. NGOs had called on the EU leaders to recommit to 0.7% of their GNI on aid by 2020 at the EU level, backed by timetables at the national level that show how and where countries are gradually increasing aid to meet the spending target.

International public financing remains an important and catalytic element of the overall financing available to developing countries, and in particular to countries most in need, including fragile and conflicted affected states”, ministers affirmed in the Council conclusions.

The document states that “the EU reaffirms its collective commitment to achieve the target within the time frame of the post-2015 agenda”, showing that ministers clearly failed to agree on binding dates to achieve the objective.

The EU, along with other affluent countries, committed to spend 0.7% of GNI on ODA at the UN General Assembly in 1970. In 2005, EU Member States committed to reach the target by the end of the year. Yet so far, only Sweden, Luxembourg, Denmark and the UK have met the target, while other Member States such as France and Germany have not yet agreed on a deadline to reach it.

“Breaking the 0.7% aid commitment would be a historic mistake for EU countries and jeopardise ambitious agreements set to take place on sustainable development and finance at the G7 summit in June, and the Third International Conference for Finance for Development in Addis Ababa in July, which is widely expected to lay the groundwork for achievement of the new global goals”, had warned Concord Director Seamus Jeffreson..

The document tackles many different issues such as the use of domestic public finance and international finance, domestic and international private sector mobilization, trade and investment, science, technology and innovation, financial transparency, anti-money-laundering and anti-corruption measures.

To implement such an ambitious agenda, the text highlights that “a new global partnership for poverty eradication and sustainable development is required and it should be based on and promote human rights, equality, non-discrimination, democratic institutions, good governance, rule of law, inclusiveness, environmental sustainability and respect for planetary boundaries”.

But according to ActionAid’s Deputy Director in Italy Luca De Fraia, “Europe did not pass the exam on finance for development.” In an article published yesterday in the Italian newspaper Repubblica, De Fraia stated that the Council’s conclusions were not very encouraging and contained no clear commitment to achieve the 0.7% objective, just a reference to the implementation of the post-2015 Agenda with no exact date, as well as lacking clear commitments for a rapid improvement in the quality of aid and on strengthening cooperation concerning taxes or debt cancellation for developing countries. He also reported that there was nothing new in terms of clear rules on the role of the business sector with regards to sustainable development.

Although the EU states have not reached the 0.7% target and must carry though on their engagements, it must be also admitted that the development engagements must be shared more equally. The Council’s conclusions affirms that “the EU and its Member States are ready to play their part in full, including through international engagement and domestic implementation. We also expect other partners – including new and emerging actors – to contribute their fair share”.

It also goes on to highlight that “The EU and its Member States call on other high income countries to also commit to achieve the 0.7% ODA/GNI target and the 0.15-0.20% ODA/GNI targets for LDCs within the time frame of the post-2015 agenda. Emerging economies and UMICs should also increase their financial support to developing countries and to LDCs in particular, and should set targets for doing so within the time frame of the post-2015 agenda.”

Africa and Migration

In the document, the EU reiterates its strong political commitment to Africa and undertakes to further prioritise and increase its financial assistance for Africa. “The EU also recognizes the particular challenges faced by developing countries in Africa, and in this respect underlines the importance of targeting ODA to the continent. Recalling previous international engagements towards the continent, the EU looks forward to agreeing significant international commitments for Africa, in the context of the international conferences foreseen for 2015”, the document highlights.

Moreover, with the Council’s conclusions EU ministers stress how “well-managed migration and mobility can make a positive contribution as an enabler to inclusive growth and sustainable development”. “The new Global Partnership should foster a more collaborative approach to increase the benefits of international migration for sustainable development and to reduce vulnerabilities. All countries need to make efforts to manage migration effectively with full respect for the human rights and dignity of migrants. This requires both legal and irregular migration in countries of origin, transit and destination to be addressed in partnership.” However, at least 1,800 people have already died trying to cross the Mediterranean since the start of the year.

Two weeks after presenting the European Agenda on Migration, and as a first step to implement the proposed shared responsibility on resettlements, the European Commission called yesterday on EU member states to take in 40,000 asylum seekers from Syria and Eritrea who will arrive in Italy and Greece over the next two years. The proposal will have to be approved by the EU Parliament and the EU Council. Let’s see if EU policies will be able to keep pace with realities.

by Eva Donelli

Photo Credit: Flickr/Brecht Houben

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