Oxfam's EU Advocacy office in Brussels


Aid builds hospitals, pays doctors’ salaries and buys textbooks and medical equipment. It isn’t charity; it’s a tiny but crucial investment to build a better, safer world.

New figures from the OECD, released today, show that aid from EU-15 has fallen for the second year in a row, with a €10 billion shortfall on their 2010 target of 0.51%. Aid as a share of national income has fallen from 0.44% last year to 0.42%, shattering even further their promise to give 0.7% of their national income to the poorest by 2015.

This wholesale disinvestment means that poor countries will suffer more from the mess made by rich country bankers, and have less to contribute to helping drive the world economy forward. Farmers won’t get the help they need to grow more food, and 90 million children will go without education as European aid pledges to poor countries are breached.

Western European countries have performed even worse than the global trend. The biggest cuts were made by Spain (- 49%) and Italy (- 34%), with Belgium and Ireland also significantly dropping their aid. Even countries such as Germany – the economic powerhouse of Europe – and France, which are traditionally big donors, also cut their aid, with the latter not even reaching the average EU-15 aid level.

By contrast, Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands continue to meet their pledge to give more than 0.7 per cent of national income in aid, although the last three slightly decreased their aid, while the UK has budgeted to meet the 0.7 target this year, despite having been in economic recession.

The fact that the UK has kept up its aid shows that other donor countries could stick to their pledges if they cared. It’s not an issue of money but of political will.

Against the backdrop of the crumbling of the 0.7 per cent aid goal, innovative tools for development financing are absolutely critical and are now needed more than ever. Those 11 EU countries (Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia and Slovakia) who are going ahead with a financial transaction tax (FTT) can expect to raise around €37bn, and should spend a significant part of the money raised to help poor people hit by the economic crisis and climate change.

Europe can no longer stand by as tax dodging and broken aid promises take billions from the pockets of ordinary people.


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How did Oxfam calculate the headline figure of 90 million children going without education?

The EU-15 provided 0.42% in 2012 which represents around €50 billion. If they were meeting the 0.51% target of 2010, they would have provided around €60 billion which represents a €10billion shortfall. Assuming a teacher’s salary is €2,800 per year and with 25 children per class, €1 billion could pay the salaries of 360,000 teachers, getting over 9 million children into school.

Source: Background Paper for FTI Replenishment Exercise: Estimate of Costs and Benefits (2011), Global Partnership for Education.

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