Standing up for development aid

Monday, July 2, 2012 - 07:22

As EU leaders gather for yet another summit discussing the economic crisis inside of the EU borders, they are still failing to give 0.7% of their Gross National Income towards development aid, to help people and communities with much lower living standards to edge their way out of poverty. CONCORD, European Confederation of Relief and Development NGOs, have made a commitment to hold the political leaders to account to this promise and therefore every year publish a report AidWatch to exhibit how much or little progress is made in meeting the target of 0.7% of GNI by 2015.

This year the report found that meeting the target is highly possible, but far from being achieved. In the Cinquantenaire  Park near the European Council in Brussels, a large group of activists gathered on Thursday 28 June to draw attention to this failure. We dressed up in skin tight outfits and held giant helium balloons, which had national flags and the faces of European leaders attached to the string. Attached to the string was also the percentage of genuine overseas aid that the country actually gives.

The activists had come from all over Europe, including a large contingent from Denmark. The event drew quite some attention from people walking past, but also from journalists from Iranian and Chinese television, as well as Reuters and some other news outlets.

I have no doubt that we will once again here from European leaders that they are committed to their 0.7% development aid goal. Possibly they’ll add something about it being hard to deliver in times of economic crisis. In Europe we do however enjoy a much higher standard of living, and while many people in Europe are feeling the economic crisis, 0.7% of our GNI isn’t actually that much for us, but could make a huge difference for poorer countries with lower standards of living.

Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are already meeting their aid commitments, times for others to follow suit. And until they do, we will continue to draw attention to the broken promises of European leaders - broken promises that cost lives and livelihoods in the global south.