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Brussels, 21 April 2010

Development aid and Millennium Development Goals: Commission calls Member States to get back on track for more and better aid

Today, the European Commission has adopted an ambitious action plan for EU action to speed up progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In 2009, the EU aid level has slightly decreased and amounted €49bn. This corresponds to 0.42% of EU GNI, making the EU still far from meeting the intermediate collective target of 0,56% GNI by 2010, before reaching 0.7% EU GNI by 2015. The EU remains the most generous global donor, providing over half of global aid. The Commission proposes to Member States a number of actions in support of MDGs. They aim at increasing the level of aid while making aid more efficient and focused on those countries and sectors most in need. To feed into the action plan, the Commission also adopted a Communication on taxation and development which aims at increasing developing countries' domestic revenues through building stronger domestic fiscal systems and fighting tax evasion internationally. The action plan sets out a possible EU position ahead of the UN Summit on the MDGs this September.

President Barroso said: "2010 is a year of opportunity for the EU to renew its commitment towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As we celebrate the ‘European Year against Poverty and Social Exclusion’, it is important to recall that the challenge of poverty does not stop at the EU’s borders. I call on Member States to make developing countries part of our thinking for the future. Promoting development has to be part and parcel of Europe’s response to global challenges. We have a chance to make this a new decade for development and I am personally committed to push this agenda at global level during this year's G8 and G20 summits and in the UN MDG Review Meeting."

European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs said: "I want Europe to remain the main and most credible leader in the fight against poverty. We have to respect our promises of more and better aid to halve poverty by 2015. This plan shows how we can keep the lead in working with developing countries to get back on track towards the MDGs. The Goals are still achievable, provided there is financial effort and political will from EU Member States."

More aid and better value for aid, with coherent policies

The EU Action Plan proposes ways to ensure increase of the aid by Member States and supports the need for innovative sources of financing. It also addresses the quality of aid: Commission wants to make aid more effective, by sharing labour and responsibilities within the EU, and making sure there are no "aid orphan" countries. The Commission will also ensure that all its policies are coherent with development goals.

The action plan consists of 12 points.

  • Member States will be asked to establish realistic, verifiable annual action plans for reaching individual targets1 and publish the first plans before September 2010 The European Council should lead a process of peer review among Member States. The Action Plan also calls for fair international burden-sharing with other international donors to raise their level of ambition;

  • Increase of aid effectiveness by better coordinating national aid programmes at EU level. This means better value for money and could save around €3 to €6 billion yearly. The EU plan for Haiti reconstruction is a good example. Aid effectiveness should also be promoted at international level;

  • Target fragile states and those most off-track countries from the MDGs;

  • Target the most off-track MDGs, through sectoral measures on Gender, Health, Education and Food security;

  • Foster ownership of MDGs in developing countries by working in partnerships, such as the EU-Africa Joint Strategy;

  • Ensure that other EU policies such as security, trade, migration, food security and climate change work in coherence for development goals;

  • Mobilise domestic resources through better taxation in developing countries. In parallel, promote the principles of good governance in tax matters and support fight against tax evasion at international level;

  • Strengthen regional integration and trade for growth and jobs;

  • Support initiatives on innovative financing with high revenue potential and ensure they benefit the poorest ;

  • Use the EU's €2.4bn a year "fast-start" funding commitment in Copenhagen for climate change as a test for aid effectiveness and coherence.

  • Launch a new plan to address and intervene better in conflict situations and make development and security work better together;

  • Support a stronger weight of developing countries in the international governance architecture, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and the UN reform for more effective agencies.

Next steps

The EU Action plan and the accompanying thematic documents will be discussed in the Foreign Affairs Council in May and June. It should also be part of the European Council in June, so as to ensure a strong and coordinated European voice in view of the UN Summit on MDGs in September 2010.

See also

MEMO/10/147 on the Action Plan and 2009 EU statistics

MEMO/10/146 on Tax and Development

MEMO/10/145 on Millennium Development Goals and "EU funded projects"

Other related documents

The EU Action Plan in support of the Millennium Development Goals:

EU donor atlas:

Projects on Commissioner's website

EU funded monitor of progress towards the MDGs:

1 :

0.33% of GNI for the Member States that joined the EU since 2004; 0.7% of GNI for the other EU countries, while Member States which have achieved that target commit themselves to remain above that level.

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