The European Union, the world’s largest aid donor, will use this week’s G-8 Summit in the United Kingdom to deliver a strong message on the bloc’s goals: Fairness in trade, inclusive growth, job creation and a push for development.
Despite budget constraints that have forced most member states to defer their targets on aid spending as a percentage of gross national income, the EU still plays an influential role at the meeting of the world’s eight wealthiest nations, excluding China and Brazil.
Half of the G-8 countries — Germany, France, Italy and the U.K. — are part of the European Union and the summit is chaired by the U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron.
“The EU is coming to this G-8 Summit to promote global fairness […] I am confident that this summit under U.K. presidency will provide the momentum to move forward on these important priorities,” European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said in a statement.
European Council President Herman van Rompuy added that the meeting “comes at a time with important economic and political challenges,” asserting Brussels’ commitment to finding solutions.
Barroso and Van Rompuy will both address the G-8 leaders in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, and put forward their case as to why the club should focus on several issues directly related to development, the first of which are the so-called “3 Ts” of trade, taxation and transparency:
The EU is making the case to further trade in Africa by lowering trade costs, stimulating infrastructure financing and better coordinating support, as well as through the “Aid for Trade” scheme, which accounted for 32 percent of total aid flows — or over €10.7 billion — in 2010.
Every year the European Union loses about €1 trillion due to tax evasion and avoidance, an amount equivalent to the bloc’s total budget for the next seven years. The EU will therefore be pushing for the G-8 to respond to calls for greater tax fairness — tackling tax havens that limit the capacity of governments to raise money to implement their economic and social policies, including development aid.
Brussels recently updated its transparency and accounting directives — a huge step in the global fight against corruption — and for more transparency in extractive industries and forestry. This legislation, once fully in place, will greatly benefit developing countries, providing them with instruments to reduce corruption and boost revenues from the exploitation of minerals, fossil fuels or wood. The European Union also wants the G-8 to join the Land Transparency Initiative and in 2013 alone has spent €31 million on implementing land governance guidelines in more than 10 countries.
In addition to the “3 Ts,” the EU also plans to raise the following issues on the G-8’s development agenda:
Syria: The continuing crisis in Syria is expected to dominate proceedings at the G-8. The European Union is the largest humanitarian donor with €840 million and has recently pledged an additional €400 million for Syrian refugees in neighboring countries.
Food security: Boosting agriculture and food security is a top EU development policy priority, with nearly €5 billion spent in 2010-2011 alone, in addition to the Food Facility set up in 2008 that has improved the lives of almost 60 million people in 49 countries and provided indirect support for another 93 million, prompting the Food and Agriculture Organization to give the initiative this year’s Jacques Diouf prize. The EU announced just a few days ago at the Nutrition for Growth Summit in London that it will spend an unprecedented €3.5 billion between 2014 and 2020 on improving nutrition in some of the world’s poorest countries.
Climate change: Brussels also expects climate change mitigation issues to be on the agenda and provide additional momentum for the global negotiations toward a post-Kyoto agreement in 2015.
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