EU aid spending down in 2011

The European Union flag. Member states of the EU spent less on aid in 2011 than in 2010. Photo by: Laurent Chamussy / European Commission

European Union member states spent less on official development assistance in 2011 than in 2010, according to new figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The EU and its 27 member states provided €52.97 billion ($69.8 billion) worth of official development assistance in 2011, OECD’s latest review of EU aid spending show. This total represents 0.42 percent of the bloc’s gross national income in 2011. It is approximately €500 million less than EU’s total ODA in 2010, which was at 0.44 percent of GNI.

Overall EU aid spending does exceed that of other donors but the bloc recognized that “efforts are still needed to reach the argreed target of 0.7 percent EU GNI by 2015.”

OECD’s review also show decreased aid spending among EU member states that are part of the Development Assistance Committee. Among the biggest cuts were from Greece, which spent 39.3 percent less on ODA in 2011 than in 2010, and Spain with a 32.7 percent reduction. OECD cited the financial crisis as the main factor that prompted these cuts.

Sweden and Germany, meanwhile, both provided significantly more aid in 2011 than in 2010. Already exceeding the U.N. aid spending target, Sweden intends to boost the rate of ODA to 1 percent of GNI.

Italy also increased aid spending, according to the figures, but the surge is largely due to debt relief and costs connected to the influx of refugees from North Africa.

Leading nongovernmental organizations in Europe recognized the difficult fiscal situation in the region but nevertheless pressed EU donors to honor their aid commitments.

“European governments are understandably under pressure, but they should realize how important development programs can be to tackle global poverty and to support developing countries to cope with the impact of the financial crisis,” Concord Director Olivier Consolo said.

Oxfam also pressed EU countries to reverse the aid cuts. The ability of Sweden, Germany and other countries to meet their commitments, the organization said, showed that cutting aid is usually a political choice instead of an economic necessity.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.