For the second consecutive year, Turkey, the Palestinian territories and Afghanistan are the top three countries that received the highest levels of EU assistance.
This is according to the latest annual report from the European Commission to the European Parliament, which details the European Union’s foreign aid policies and implementation in 2012. During that year, the European Union disbursed 9.54 billion euros ($12.57 billion) in official development assistance, up 3.5 percent from 2011.
Turkey, a pre-accession country, remains the top recipient of EU aid: Development assistance jumped 33.8 percent from 313.07 million euros in 2011 to 418.88 million euros in 2012. EU support for Turkey is focused on improving environmental protection programs to pave the way for future EU membership.
Aid to the Palestinian territories, meanwhile, is programmed to support the Palestinian Authority’s ability to provide social services and keep its administration running. This includes ensuring all employees, pensioners and the most vulnerable citizens receive timely payments.
EU assistance to the Palestinian territories is also allocated to support health, education and social protection activities of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and donor projects that aim to promote rule of law, private sector development, water and infrastructure, and advance the peace process.
Official development assistance to the Palestinian territories dropped 14.1 percent, however, from 287.52 million euros in 2011 to 247.09 million euros in 2012.
Afghanistan, the third-highest recipient of EU aid, has been receiving support mainly to promote rule of law, especially policing. EU assistance also finances projects related to health, human rights, civil society and food security. Support for the country’s health and protection sectors alone reached 185 million euros in 2012.
Early this year, the European Council repeated its pledge that the European Union will maintain current levels of support to Afghanistan even after the NATO drawdown in 2014. But in 2012, total EU development assistance to the conflict-torn country plummeted 23.6 percent to 199.63 million euros — lower than the 215.2 million euros the bloc gave to Afghanistan in 2010.
Morocco and South Africa are no longer among the top 10 recipients of EU aid in 2011. Morocco, which was the eighth on the list in 2011, fell to 18th place. The North African country received 25.8 percent less aid in 2012, with EU assistance amounting to 113.14 million euros. Aid to South Africa, meanwhile, grew a modest 1.7 percent to 145.26 million euros, dropping the country from 10 to 12 on the list.
Replacing these two African countries in the 2012 top 10 list are Niger and Sudan. EU aid to Niger, in particular, surged 76.3 percent last year to reach 175.84 million euros. As a result, Niger moved 14 places up to become the seventh-highest recipient of EU aid in 2012.
Overall, EU development assistance focused on providing and strengthening social infrastructure and services, which were allocated 37 percent of the bloc’s aid budget in 2012. Emergency response, reconstruction relief and rehabilitation, and disaster prevention received the second-largest share, accounting for 14 percent of the EU aid envelope.
Check out this slideshow to see which countries received the highest official development assistance from the European Union in 2012, and which sectors are being prioritized.
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