31 July 2017

2018 EU Budget – development aid at stake

At the end of May, the European Commission released its proposal for the 2018 European Union’s budget, including a line for development assistance and humanitarian aid. On 12 July, the ambassadors of the EU member states revealed their position with a suggested aid budget of almost 9.6 billion euros and a cut of around 6,5% compared to 2017.

However, the funds for SRHR, included in the budget line dedicated to Human Development, have not changed and amount to over 193 million euro.

According to the EU Council, its position strongly focuses on measures to stimulate jobs and growth, strengthen security, and tackle migration issues. However, as stated by Siegfried Mureşan, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for the EU Budget 2018, “The Council’s position on the EU Draft Budget 2018 is in contradiction with its own political commitments. Member States are proposing indiscriminate, mechanical cuts to the very priorities that they put forward at the beginning of the year”.

The 2018 EU Draft Budget proposed by the EU Council was met with a strong response from development and humanitarian organisations:

Alexandra Makaroff, Plan International's EU Representative: "The EU is capable of creating a more just, sustainable and prosperous future for all - in Europe and beyond. Member States have the combined resources to make huge advances in efforts to tackle poverty and inequality, fight injustice and protect the planet - provided they spend wisely. But the budget Member States are proposing is far from ensuring that no one is left behind. Instead, it seems to be more about serving their own national interests".

Valentina Barbagallo, Brussels Policy and Advocacy Manager from The ONE Campaign:Member States' call to cut development aid at a time of increasing need is short-sighted and unwise. Today’s challenges will become tomorrow’s problems unless we urgently scale up investment in long-term development programmes. The proposed budget won't be enough to cover both the additional challenges the EU and developing countries face, and to end extreme poverty. The EU must show a bold vision by refocusing their ambition on those living in poverty so to prevent crises from happening rather than merely treating their symptoms”.

Natalia Alonso, Oxfam International's Deputy Director for Advocacy and Campaigns: "It's not just the amount of money which is crucial - where and what it's spent on are every bit as important. Development aid must go to those who need it most, no matter who or where they are. EU Member States are increasingly tying aid to their own political interests, rather than focus it on the poorest countries and poorest people. Reducing migration towards Europe should not become an indicator for the success of development aid".

Ester Asin, Director of Save the Children EU Office: "Despite the proposed increase in the EU's emergency response budget, which is much needed, a growing and disproportionate share of the pot is being directed towards crises in the EU's immediate neighbourhood - increasingly creating forgotten crises elsewhere in the world. This undermines the core principle of humanitarian aid. An even more generous budget would help ensure that EU funding remains needs based and proportionate across different regions and crises”.

At the end of July, the European Parliament Committee on Development released its draft opinion on the EU draft budget for 2018 indicating that “an increase in the investment  in access to reproductive health care is necessary to help counter the negative impact of the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule”.

What are the next steps?

The Council is expected to formally adopt its position in September.

The EP Committee on Budgets will agree on its position on the draft 2018 EU budget in votes on the 25 and 28 September and on 10 October. The plenary vote is expected to take place on 25 October.

The negotiations between the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament are led by Estonia, which currently holds the European presidency. The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament have to jointly agree on the final budget. The conciliation period (during which the European Parliament and Council of the EU negotiates an agreement) will start on 31 October and end on 20 November. The European Parliament will then vote on the agreement on 30 November.

See also the related documents: