OECD Figures: Scandalous lack of progress in EU development aid

Press release – 4th of April 2008

In 2007, European Aid fell by 1.7 billion euros, show OECD figures released today. NGOs from across Europe warn European governments that their failure will cost lives.European governments’ failure to meet aid pledges is nothing short of disgraceful. Europe likes to see itself as a world leader in development assistance, but these figures show that governments are taking a step

backward on their commitments” said Olivier Consolo, CONCORD Director. “17 of the 27 European member States have not increased their Official Development Assistance at all in the last year and of these, 11 have actually allowed it to fall. The gap between promises and reality must be closed!” .

Over 1600 European NGOs united under the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), and CONCORD, the European NGO Confederation for Relief and Development, have criticised European governments for their failure to live up to aid promises.

According to the OECD, European aid fell from 0.41% to 0.38% of Gross National Income (GNI) in 2007. European governments are getting further from, not closer to, their 2010 commitments of 0.56 % GNI for ODA and have yet to set out how they will meet their aid targets. France, which will take the Presidency of the European Union as from the 1st of July is one major donor which has failed to announce a timetable for how it will meet its commitments of aid.

It is unacceptable that France, which is a leading donor has failed to set out how it will meet its targets on aid. The French Government must now look forward and reaffirm the commitments it has made, by programming an ambitious rise of its assistance for 2009, on the basis of a multi-annual framework to ensure that its aid is predictable", explains Anne Héry, representative of Handicap International in Paris and Secretary-general of Coordination SUD.

Since 2005, there has been a serious lack of progress on genuine aid* in sharp contrast with promises made by European governments. Last year’s poor performance is largely due to the timing of debt relief deals, which have been counted as ODA in the past, thereby inflating aid figures and disguising the poor performance of European governments. This lack of progress on aid will impact hard on the developing countries that were counting on this money to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

"A failure on the part of European Union to meet its aid promises directly condemns the poor and marginalized in developing countries to a life of poverty. Already in many poor countries, the verdict is that the Millennium Development Goals will not be met. This is a scenario the world can ill-afford and we demand action" said Marivic Raquiza, GCAP Asia Co-Convenor.

CONCORD and GCAP have today called on European governments to set transparent and binding timetables showing how they will meet their commitments to give more aid.

EU governments should also take a lead at the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra in September, and must set more ambitious targets to make their aid more effective. In particular, European aid must be more predictable, transparent and accountable.

European donors are often less than transparent about the decisions that they take which affect the lives of real people in poor countries. They need to be more accountable for the effectiveness of their aid” said Hussaini Abdu, African Governance Coordinator with ActionAid.

On 22nd of May this year, CONCORD will launch an in-depth report analysing issues of quality and quantity of aid from EU member states to the developing world.


Jasmine Burnley: Aid Watch coordinator for CONCORD: jasmine.burnley@concordeurope.org – Tel: + 32 (0) 2 743 87 64. Spokespersons:

Laura Sullivan laura.sullivan@actionaid.org (+32 2 503 2422 or +32(0) 485 781255)

Alexander Woollcombe alexander.woollcombe@oxfaminternational.org (+32 (0) 486 842 407)

Katia Herrgott, herrgott@coordinationsud.org Coordination SUD (France) : Tél. : + 33 (0)

Marivic Raquiza (GCAP Asia Co-Convenor/Social Watch-Philippines Co-Convenor):+31 (0)6 342 404 39.

Notes for Editors (see CONCORD website for material as pictures or testimonies)

The commitments: In 2002, the EU15 committed to give at least 0.33% of GNI as aid by 2006 (with an average of 0.39%) and 0.7% by 2015. In 2005, they committed to give 0.51% at least by 2010 (with an average of 0.56%) The 12 New member States committed to give 0.17% of GNI as aid by 2010 and 0.33% by 2015.

The reality: The 2007 figures release by the OECD show that European aid fell from 0.41% of GNI in 2006 to 0.38% of GNI in 2007.

* Most European donors inflate their official aid figures by counting as aid debt relief and funding to foreign students and refugees in European countries. In 2006, CONCORD found that EU governments had inflated European aid figures by nearly 30%. In 2006, 13.6 billion euros of reported ODA was in fact debt cancellation primarily for Iraq and Nigeria (€11 billion euros), educating foreign students in Europe (€1.6 billion) and housing refugees in Europe (€1 billion). CONCORD considers that this cannot be counted as genuine aid.

CONCORD’s European Aid Watch Report will be published on 22nd May, and will include a detailed analysis of the degree to which European aid was inflated in 2007.

In 2005, all OECD donors signed the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, which included a set of indicators and targets to improve the effectiveness of aid. They will meet again in September 2008 in Accra at the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness to assess progress and make new commitments. A recent report from Eurodad showed that much still needs to be done if donors are to live up to these commitments to make aid more effective and accountable.

CONCORD is the European confederation of relief and development NGOs. Its national associations and international networks represent over 1600 NGOs which are supported by millions of citizens across Europe. CONCORD leads reflection and political actions and regularly engages in dialogue with the European institutions and other civil society organisations.  CONCORD is part of the ’Global Call to Action against Poverty’. Contact: Agnès Philippart (aphilippart@concordeurope.org) – Tel: +32 (0)2 743 87 77 - www.concordeurope.org.

The Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) is the world’s largest civil society alliance of social movements, International NGOs, trade unions, community groups, women’s organizations, faith and youth groups, local associations and campaigners working together across more than 100 national coalitions/platforms.GCAP is calling for action from the world’s leaders to meet their promises to end poverty and inequality. In particular, GCAP demands solutions that address the issues of; public accountability, just governance and the fulfillment of human rights; trade justice; more and better aid; debt cancellation and gender equality and women’s rights.Contact: Julien Vaissier (gcapeuropesecretariat@whiteband.org). Tel: +32 (0)2 743 87 65 - www.whiteband.org.

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