Aid forsaken

The European Union’s aid commissioner accuses member states of failing countries worst hit by the global economic crisis by delaying approval of a plan to release €500 million of funds.
The executive European Commission said in April it would accelerate aid to poor countries outside the 27-nation bloc by releasing some previously earmarked funds earlier than planned, Reuters reports.

EU development ministers meeting in Brussels said they took “positive note” of the Commission’s plan to present details of the proposal and that they looked forward to discussing it, but stopped short of a clear endorsement.
“I think there is a kind of natural and spontaneous reluctance of some member states to deliver on their commitments,” EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said this morning.
“This means we don’t really take into account enough the consequences of the financial crisis … on the poor countries.”

He said he was pleased the Commission could continue to work on the plan.

But he added: “I feel it will be difficult to convince everybody, because some member states don’t really take into account that the developing countries are part of our solution and not a part of our problem.”

The Commission said in April it would speed aid to poor countries by bringing forward to 2009 nearly €4.3 billion of previously earmarked funds.

This would include releasing early €500 million of reserve funds for welfare spending in poor countries worst hit by falling export revenues as world trade contracts.

Michel said big efforts were needed to support growth in Africa and that a three-percent fall in growth in six months meant about 100 million more people would fall into poverty.

Michel said EU states realised the importance of delivering on pledges, but faced their own internal budget problems caused by the crisis.

He said this could make it difficult to stick to an aid increase target of 20 billion euros a year until 2010.
“They need money and they are not ready to deliver on what they committed for,” he said.