EU's incoming development chief warns on aid cuts

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BRUSSELS, Jan 11 (Reuters) - The nominee to be the European Union's development commissioner said on Monday he would name and shame any countries that use the economic crisis as an excuse to renege on pledges of aid to the developing world.

"I shall not hesitate to identify very clearly those member states that fail to meet their commitments," Andris Piebalgs told members of the European Parliament questioning him about his policy plans.

Public finances are in disarray and budget deficits and debt levels have risen in the 27-country bloc in the worst economic crisis in decades.

The richer governments have poured billions of euros into their economies to fight the crisis and save jobs. Some states -- including Piebalgs' own country, Latvia -- have been forced to seek aid from the International Monetary Fund.

"I know that national budgets are under real stress," Piebalgs said. "But if we do not keep our promises on development aid, how can we expect developing countries to take partnerships seriously?"

Piebalgs, previously energy commissioner, was given the development portfolio in the new EU executive chosen by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. Parliament will decide whether to approve the new Commission on Jan. 26.

Piebalgs said he would try to ensure developing countries take a long-term approach to their natural resources.

"There is no point in providing aid, and then seeing the country sell its natural resources for generations to come," he said.

He said volatile food and energy prices and the financial and economic crisis threatened the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, which include halving by 2015 the number of people whose income is less than $1 a day.

"The current picture does not permit any complacency," he said. "Some progress has been made in Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and in some African countries. But Sub-Saharan Africa is lagging far behind". (Reporting by Pete Harrison, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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