European CSOs yesterday expressed dismay at new OECD data revealing the cuts made to almost all European countries’ aid programmes in 2011. Tightening aid budgets mean that now more than ever transparency is needed to ensure aid money has the greatest possible impact.
12 EU countries slashed their aid budgets in 2011 – with the biggest cuts seen in Greece (-39.3%), Spain (-32.7%), and Austria (-14.3%) – and only three European countries increased their aid spending: Italy (33%), Sweden (10.5%), and Germany (5.9%).
Olivier Consolo, Director of CONCORD, the platform for European development NGOs said “European countries are cutting aid faster than their economies are shrinking. We could see Europe entering an age of aid austerity, pulling back from supporting millions of poor people in developing countries. European governments are understandably under pressure, but they should realize how important development programmes can be to tackle global poverty and to support developing countries to cope with the impact of the financial crisis.”
Now more than ever it is essential that the development community focuses on maximising the impact of aid. A precondition for more effective aid is more accessible, timely, and comparable information from donors about the aid they give. All European aid donors should implement the commitments they made in the EU Transparency Guarantee by publishing their aid information to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), so that other European countries and donors around the world can coordinate their aid spending more effectively. It is also crucial that information on EU aid is made available through the common standard so that recipient countries can see what is coming to them and plan their own spending in relation to this.
We urge all European donors that have not already done so to join IATI, publish their implementation plans, and publish their aid information to the IATI Registry, to ensure that the aid money they give goes as far as possible.