Why send money to developing countries while we struggle in our own country?

Published: 05 December 2010

Losing faith in European development aid?

Many people seem to have lost their faith in European development aid. Many people do not know exactly where it is going to, most of EU member states citizens are not really interested. Additionally in times of financial crisis it seems inappropriate on the first sight to spend money on developing countries while the own country is still suffering from the consequences of the financial crisis.

Will all the money the EU gives away now, come back eventually?

The European Commission is willing to face these concerns and therefore want aid to be more visible and have a higher impact since resources are tight. “At some point the financial crisis will be over. Stakeholders have to think on a long run: If they are cutting their development aid money now, they are not only risking global security, but also risking to weaken their own economy”, according to Catherine RAY, spokesperson of the European Commissioner for Development (Andris PIEBALGS). Rich countries are helping themselves in the long run by supporting developing countries – even in times of crisis – in order to benefit from trading with them once the developing counties established their own strong economy.

New challenges

In the Lisbon Treaty there are no binding commitments for states to contribute development aid. So how can governments of EU member states to be convinced to stick to their public spendings on development aid or even increase it in times of financial crisis? “Of course, we cannot force governments to fulfill their promises. But what we can do is to monitor their development activities and therefore put political pressure on them by publishing their figures”, so RAY. Even if the governments of some states are having different attitudes towards development aid - the latest Eurobarometer report indicates that 9 out of 10 EU citizens are actually convinced that we have to help developing countries. Some EU member states decided to cut their development aid contributions. After 2014 there will be a new EU budget plan developed. How much money will be available for development aid after the financial crisis remains uncertain. Nevertheless this might be a push towards the question about how aid can be more effective, if the EU would still like to achieve its aims but with less money. A special conference in Soeul will put aid efficiency on the agenda in 2012 to find solutions for this problem.