European Commission Dismisses Claims EU Aid Lacks Poverty Focus, Accountability

Several claims included in a recent report criticizing the accountability and focus of the European Union’s aid programs are “inaccurate” and require clarification, the European Commission said in its official response.

The document, titled “EU External Aid: Who is if For?” was published by the U.K.-based think tank Open Europe. It argues that EU aid spending lacks focus on poverty and is wasted on unnecessary transaction and administration costs.

In its response, the European Commission countered that EU aid has “helped millions of people to be lifted out of extreme poverty.” It added that accountability for EU aid spending is “extremely high,” noting that the European Commission was named the fourth most transparent donor by the U.K.-based Publish What You Fund transparency campaign.

“The EU is working hard to eradicate poverty in many of the world’s poorest countries, and is committed to meeting the Millennium Development Goals and improving living standards for all by 2015,” the commission said in response to the report’s claim that the world’s poorest countries do not receive their share of EU aid. “The European Commission on its own is the second largest donor worldwide and works in some 150 countries.”

The commission further assured EU taxpayers that it has a “strong track record” of good aid management, explaining that various independent and respected bodies have yet to find cases of EU funds being lost to corruption.

On the claims that significant portions of EU aid funds are spent on administrative cost, the commission said that, while Open Europe correctly estimated that such costs took approximately 5.4 percent of the bloc’s total aid budget in 2009, this was lower than the average administrative costs of bilateral aid donors.

Read the European Commission’s full response here.

Read more development aid news.

About the author

  • 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.