EU development aid must take social inequalities into account, say MEPs
The development committee says countries cannot be selected for bilateral development aid on the basis of per-capita income alone, as the Commission proposes in its plans to revamp EU development aid from 2014. Calling for a broader approach, it points to huge poverty and inequality challenges in "upper middle-income countries", which would lose EU bilateral aid under the Commission's plans.
The committee on Tuesday adopted a set of amendments to the Commission's proposal for the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) — the EU's largest external financing instrument. — to which it has earmarked EUR 23.3 billion for 2014-2020.The amendments, adopted by 22 votes to 0, with 1 abstention, will be the mandate for informal negotiations with the Council on the final legislation.
"The EP is ensuring that the focus is on the poorest countries and the most vulnerable groups. GDP alone does not reflect the level of poverty in countries. You have to take into account the spread of wealth", said the rapporteur, Thijs Berman (S&D, NL).
Colombia, Ecuador and Peru should remain in the scheme
Parliament's development specialists argue that some of the 19 countries that the Commission plans to axe from its list of aid programmes on the basis of "gross national income per capita" still face "enormous poverty and inequality challenges". They say even upper-middle income countries should qualify for aid in exceptional cases. To evaluate their needs, indicators such as the Human Development Index, the poverty gap or the percentage of people living below the poverty line should be used. This would keep Colombia, Ecuador and Peru on the list of countries receiving country-specific aid.
The development committee calls for transition periods to be applied when phasing out aid programmes for specific countries, with the DCI funds used to implement specific programmes during that period, e.g. for tax and social protection systems, good governance, human rights and civil society. They say the phasing out of aid should be accompanied by a policy dialogue with the country in question focusing on the needs of the vulnerable and poor.
More democratic oversight
In their negotiations with Council, MEPs will defend Parliament's right to influence important decisions on aid allocation and distribution in specific countries and demand a veto over strategic planning decisions by the Commission.
Fight climate change but keep development focus
MEPs acknowledge that EU development aid should contribute to fighting climate change but warn that this "should not undermine or jeopardise the fight against poverty". The funding provided by member states to mitigate climate change in developing countries should therefore be kept separate from the 0.7% contribution that member states have to provide as official development assistance.
The MEPs will now engage in informal negotiations with the Council on the new Development Cooperation Instrument regulation. Once an informal agreement is reached it must be approved by the development committee and then by the full House. The new regulation must be adopted before December 2013 when the current one expires.
In the chair: Eva Joly (Greens, FR)
REF. : 20120917IPR51498