EU aid for poorest will bear brunt of budget squeeze

Posted by Jon Slater Head of News

21st Nov 2012

The European Union should think again over changes to its proposed budget which could squeeze help for the poorest people on the planet but protect planned spending increases elsewhere, Oxfam said today ahead of this week's European Council.

The proposed aid budget for the period 2014-20 faces cuts of almost 10 per cent or €10bn (£8bn) compared to the original budget proposals. By contrast, the total revised budget put forward by European Council President Van Rompuy last week was 7.4 per cent smaller and funding for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is being cut by just 6.5 per cent. Over the last decade, CAP's biggest beneficiaries include giant corporations such as Nestle as well as large landowners including the royal family.  

Between 1999-2009, Nestle received €197m from the CAP (£158m at today's exchange rate) including €1.1m (£0.9m) in 2009, the latest year for which figures are available. During the same period, the Queen is estimated to have received more than €8m (£6.4m) and the Prince of Wales at least €1.45m (£1.17m).

Although the new aid budget would represent a small increase over the previous budget period 2008-13, it is nowhere near enough to meet the EU's aid promises. Oxfam fears that aid could be cut further during what are proving to be tough budget negotiations between member states. The UK, for example, has threatened to veto any budget that represents a real terms increase.

Like the UK, the EU is committed to spending 0.7 per cent of national income on aid but is currently spending just 0.42 per cent. Contributions to the EU aid budget also count towards member states own aid budgets so have already been included in UK budget plans. 

Claire Godfrey, Oxfam senior policy adviser, said: "It cannot be right that the EU is proposing to protect billions for rich farmers while failing to deliver on its pledge to provide more life-saving medicine and clean water to the world's poorest people.

"Fighting for increases in EU aid is one way the Prime Minister can ensure other countries live-up to their promises to the poorest. And because the UK has already budgeted to meet its promises, it won't cost the UK taxpayer a penny more."  
The €10bn Euro cut from the proposed increase would be enough to feed more than five million families of six for a year, provide clean water to 156 million people or provide free healthcare to one in three people in low-income countries. Cuts could also impact on the EU's ability to respond to humanitarian emergencies.

Contact: Jon Slater 01865 472249/ 07876 476403/ jslater@oxfam.org.uk

Notes to editors: Details of CAP beneficiaries can be found at www.farmsubsidy.org

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