EU to cut aid to 19 emerging countries from China to Brazil
(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission decided on Wednesday to cut aid from 2014 to 19 emerging economies including China, India and Brazil, the EU's development commissioner Andris Piebalgs said.
Relief agencies objected that strong headline performance data on emerging countries could veil poverty within populations.
The 19 countries losing out are: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Thailand, Venezuela and Uruguay.
Piebalgs said the decision was taken to bring about "a shift in our relations with emerging countries and a focus of the aid on the poorest countries" between 2014 and 2020.
The decision was reached within a context of broader changes to the EU's external spending as it adapts its long-term budget planning to tighter financial conditions and the rise of such rivals on the global economic stage.
The 27-state European Union is the world's biggest donor, accounting for 50 percent of world aid with 53.8 billion euros ($72 billion) handed out last year. The European Commission manages 20 percent of that aid, or 11 billion euros.
The commission said in an October policy paper detailing the changes that it would increase the "volume and share of EU aid to the countries most in need and where the EU can have a real impact, including fragile states."
Under the new 2014-2020 budget, the 19 will no longer benefit from a 57.5-billion-euro ($77 billion) package of development aid.
Between 2007-2013, about 470 million euros was earmarked for India, 170 million euros for China and 61 million euros for Brazil.
A European confederation of relief agencies said the approach could be flawed as it ignored big local concentrations of poverty within countries whose national averages are higher.
It also suggested that the Commission was playing politics with rivals some of which, such as India, are locked in negotiations with Brussels over bilateral trade deals.
"The European Commission must ensure that aid is focused on the poorest people and the sectors most in need in the world," said Sarah Kristine Johansen from the CONCORD confederation, which says it represents national aid agencies and 1,600 non-governmental organisations.
"An over-reliance on macro-economic data averaged at the national level hides the reality of poverty and inequality within countries.
"Aid should not be instrumentalised for EU strategic interests," she added.
Piebalgs said pockets of poverty remained in China but that more added value was obtained by granting aid to countries like Mali or Ivory Coast in Africa.
He said the EU would concentrate on areas where its aid would have "maximum impact."
Britain for instance already pumps vast sums to India, which then pumps out its own substantial aid to African nations.
According to ActionAid, three quarters of the world's poor live in middle-income countries.
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