EU aid hangs on #Brexit, while the AIIB gets down to business: This week in development news

Women in Huehuetenango, Guatemala are given EU-funded vouchers which entitles them to financial assistance, food items and produce. Britain’s departure from the European Union would likely have implications both for the size of the EU’s aid budget and for what it prioritizes. Photo by: H. Avril 2015 / EU / ECHO / CC BY-NC-ND

The future of European development cooperation hangs on the British vote to “leave” or “remain,” a new development finance power convenes in Beijing, while the titans of Silicon Valley rub elbows with global entrepreneurs. This week in development news:

Citizens of the United Kingdom vote Thursday on whether to remain part of the European Union or leave. The choice has big implications for international trade but also for European global development cooperation. “Aid projects are on hold, careers are in limbo, and new contracts are on the line,” writes Devex London Correspondent Molly Anders. The EU is the world’s largest aid donor, contributing $62.5 billion, or nearly half of global aid spending. Britain’s departure from the political and economic union would likely have implications both for the size of the EU’s aid budget and for what it prioritizes. The UK would exert far less influence over European development policy at a time when major reforms are on the table and questions about immigration and refugee policies have become paramount. In the meantime, the so-called “Brexit” referendum has put projects on hold and induced a lot of “psychological tension” among European development professionals who aren’t sure what the future will hold.

Tech executives, startup hopefuls, angel investors, and the President of the United States are all at Stanford University in California this week at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. Tech giants like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Uber’s Travis Kalanick, and Google’s Sundar Pichai will consider alongside attendees questions ranging from how to overcome the barriers to early stage funding for emerging market entrepreneurs to the role of the global development community in energy efficient appliances, to how the next $1 billion company can emerge from the Global South. Follow Devex West Coast Correspondent Catherine Cheney’s coverage for highlights and analysis.

The Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank’s first-ever annual meeting kicks off this weekend in Beijing, China. The AIIB, guided firmly by China, is expected to play a big role in helping to finance the global infrastructure gap, and it has been seen by many as a competitor to Western-led multilateral finance institutions like the World Bank. At the meetings, AIIB President Jin Liqun is expected to announce his institution’s first batch of infrastructure projects and loans, making use of its $100 billion in capital. Devex Manila Correspondent Lean Santos is reporting from the Beijing meetings.

Doctors without Borders continues its campaign of protest against international migration and refugee policies that the medical group perceives to be failing the world’s 65 million displaced people. MSF announced — just ahead of Monday’s World Refugee Day — it will no longer accept European Union funding, in protest of EU policies that seek to reject and resettle refugees from the continent instead of assisting them. “For months MSF has spoken out about a shameful European response focused on deterrence rather than providing people with the assistance and protection they need,” said MSF’s International Secretary General Jérôme Oberreit in a statement. MSF received approximately 60 million euros from EU and member states in 2015. The group will draw on emergency funds to ensure patients are not affected by the boycott.

The world paid tribute to Jo Cox this week, after the British member of parliament and longtime development champion was killed in her constituency in Yorkshire. Cox was the former head of policy and advocacy at Oxfam, former director of the Maternal Mortality Campaign, and had advised and consulted for Save the Children and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among many other positions. She was 41 years old. In 2011, Devex named Cox to our list of London 40 Under 40 leaders shaping development. Malala Yousafzai, Samantha Power, David Cameron, and many others shared messages of admiration and loss.

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About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.