Sumario: 24 March 2009, Brussels - In a report released today, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) called on the European Commission and EU Member States to increase and standardise their financial contributions towards the Millennium Development Goals.
In the year 2000, the international community, including the European Union, made commitments to halve extreme poverty worldwide by 2015. Currently, most developing countries do not have the resources to meet the eight Millennium Development Goals, so the European Parliament is calling on the Commission and Member States to increase and standardise their financial contributions in a report adopted today in Strasbourg with 582 votes in favour to 24 against.
Current estimates suggest that 1.4 billion people are now living below the poverty line, of $1.25 per day, which is "equivalent to over one fourth of the developing world population." Despite the good intentions of the MDGs, there is still a significant lack of access to basic health care and primary education, which "causes the death of millions of people and perpetuates the cycle of poverty." Many developing countries do not have the necessary resources to meet the challenges they face, and therefore some form of external aid is essential.
Unpredictable aid streams, health and education
The situation cannot be improved without some level of predictability in the levels of aid available. Currently, some recipients are forced to spend aid support "before it has actually been provided and without being certain that it will ever be provided." Despite promises made, many Member States are still not giving all the aid which they have pledged to give. The House therefore calls on the Commission and EU Member States to improve the quantity and quality of the aid they offer.
Access to health care and basic education are fundamental human rights, which many developing countries have made progress towards, but simply lack the funds to reach their aims. The report therefore reiterates Parliament's earlier calls to ensure that at least 20% of the Community's financial support is invested in basic health and education programmes. Currently, less than 7% of the Community's development budget is given to these sectors.
The rapporteur, Alain Hutchinson (PES, BE), supports the Commission's proposal to apply the concept of contracts "based on tangible results in terms of attaining MDGs." The use of contracts implies a firmer financial commitment which would allow greater predictability from the donor country, in return for more sustainable results from the recipient country. The Commission intends these contracts to be launched at the beginning of the tenth EDF, and intends to use them to commit funds for a six-year period. Whilst the Parliament welcomes this proposal, they are calling for some changes, as currently they suffer "from a serious lack of transparency and of ownership by the poor countries."
Providing the contracts are precisely defined, they will be able to present an excellent opportunity to improve the effectiveness of European aid and cooperation with developing countries.