Breakdown of the budget, development aid comes under 'EU as a global player'

Last week 27 EU heads of state met in Brussels to finally agree a deal on the next 7 years of spending in the Multi-Annual Financial Framework – otherwise known as the EU Budget. The agreement is notable for being the first time that total funding is lower than in the previous period, with real term cuts of around 3.7%.

Funding for development aid, which we have often mentioned in this blog as a great success story of previous EU budgets, has been frozen. While this may seem good news, many are disappointed with the outcome. Significantly, it is believed, by organisations such as ONE, that ‘EU leaders missed their opportunity to take Europe a big step closer to its promise of spending 0.7 percent of income on smart aid’.

The Overseas Development Institute has also analysed the impact of the budget on the 0.7 percent target. They note that by deciding to effectively freeze the aid budget they remain further than ever from honouring their commitment to the world’s poorest people. You can read their analysis in more detail here.

Despite these less-than-hopeful messages, some positives can be taken from the agreement reached last week. As ONE suggest, the fact that their wasn’t a cut into current levels of aid does signify that some leaders did listen to the voices of citizens across Europe about how successful and effective EU aid has been.

The European Parliament still needs to vote on the overall budget deal. In March 2013 MEPs will decide whether it accepts or rejects the agreement. While this vote is non-binding, it has been noted that it ‘can send a political signal to influence next steps’. Significantly, there are certain MEPs who believe that the agreement is not acceptable and that their should be greater ambition with regards to certain aspects of the budget, including development aid.

It is the case that if we continue to make our voices heard EU aid can continue to make a difference to millions of the world’s poorest, transform lives for the better and continue to tackle tuberculosis that continues to impact severely on the most vulnerable.