After tense negotiations in Brussels, European leaders reached a historic budget-cutting deal on Friday – but appeared to have spared foreign aid.
The €908 billion deal cuts the EU budget for the first time, and it effectively freezes the regional bloc’s aid budget at current levels – a win, perhaps, for a nervous aid community which had lobbied for a slight funding increase but feared drastic cuts after a proposal that stalled last November included just that.
Still, the agreement may make it harder for European member states to reach their goal of spending 0.7 percent of gross national income on development cooperation by 2015, a challenge that several aid officials noted Friday afternoon.
“The consensus reached today could have potentially negative consequences on the ability to achieve global anti-poverty goals, especially in Africa,” said Natalia Alonso, head of Oxfam’s EU office. “It comes short of what’s needed to tackle pressing global issues, from sustainable development and increasing disasters, to food security and social justice. It will undoubtedly also impact negatively on the ambitions of Europe as a global player.”