A unique opportunity to push for an ambitious development and financing framework to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, 2015 is turning out to be a bitter year for the European Union.
Accused of foot-dragging, the EU has recently come under intense fire by nongovernmental organizations. Ignoring calls for an overhaul of the global financial system, the 28-member bloc has not backed the creation of an intergovernmental body that would decide on global tax standards. Meanwhile, activists have warned that the failure of EU ministers to set a deadline for their pledge to dedicate 0.7 percent of gross national income to development aid constituted a “historic mistake.”
Ongoing austerity measures also paint a grim reality at the level of EU member states.
Once one of the first countries to meet the 0.7 percent target, the Netherlands is in the midst of drastic aid cuts that show no signs of abating. In France, President François Hollande’s budgetary choices have set the country back by more than a decade in reaching its aid target. By 2019, Belgium — a non-negligible donor to fragile states such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi — will have decreased its development budget by 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion). And as early as next year, Finland’s aid budget will be slashed in half.