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Sunday, 10 April 2011

EU Countries inc UK Increase Foreign Aid to £47 Billion Despite Economic Turmoil

EU Countries Increase Foreign Aid to £47 Billion Despite Economic Turmoil

By Stephen Palmer  at
Despite Europe’s dire financial condition, the EU has proudly announced its member states’ highest ever aid contribution to foreign countries, totalling £47 billion for 2010.
The sum spent by the EU’s 27 member states increased by £4 billion compared with 2009 and accounted for more than half of the global amount of aid.
Unsurprisingly, the United Kingdom was one of the largest donors, giving £8.4 billion away in foreign aid last year, an amount that is set to increase year on year despite huge cuts to domestic services.
The UK was among just eight member states who met last year’s target of donating 0.56% of their Gross National Income (GNI). The others were Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden.
However, ten countries, including Italy and Greece, spent less on aid than in 2009. Portugal, which is now seeking a £3-billion bailout from other EU countries, also rather foolishly increased its contribution, from 0.23% to 0.29%.
Despite the huge amount given away, EU commissioners still bemoaned states for not meeting their targets. According to Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, “a substantial collective effort is still needed in order to achieve the goal of 0.7% [of GNI] by 2015”.
Tellingly, Piebalgs also complained that aid budgets “still represent less than 1% of national GNI” and “must be increased”, revealing that the 0.7% target is only an initial step.
The UK’s foreign aid budget is set to rise to £8.7bn this year, becoming £9.1bn in 2012, £12bn in 2013, and £12.6bn by 2014. The 2013 figure will account for 0.7 per cent of the UK’s (GNI), the United Nations “target” set for all EU members to achieve by 2015.
Based on these figures, the UK will hold the dubious distinction of becoming the first country to hit the UN goal.
According to Chancellor George Osborne, giving away yet more of taxpayers’ money to foreign countries when frontline public services are slashed at home will allow Britons to “hold their heads up high” and “honour their promise”.
Last year, the biggest beneficiary of UK foreign aid was India, a country with the fourth-largest economy in the world and its own space programme, which got £295 million of UK aid.
Other top recipients include Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Sudan, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and, of course, Pakistan, which will now receive a staggering £650m in foreign aid.
The Department for International Development (DFID) is the only British ministry not suffering cuts of up to 50 per cent. Instead, a new quango has been set up to “monitor” its spending, further increasing its drain on the taxpayer.
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