EU pledges fairer shares for all in its aid effort

Andrew Marshall, continuing a series, explains why members must shed post-colonial loyalties if the cash is to go on flowing

The European Commission is planning to reform its development aid programme as part of an effort to persuade member- states to continue paying for it.

A long-running argument over the European Development Fund is unlikely to be settled for several weeks, officials and diplomats believe. A short- term fix may be possible, but in the longer term, the Commission is preparing new ways of dealing with aid that focus it more on the poorest countries and ensure that the cash is better spent.

''We must prove that it is worthwhile for the taxpayer,'' says Joao de Deus Pinheiro, Development Commissioner. ''If we don't deliver in the next few years, we will have a problem.''

The EDF is the aid component of the Lome convention. Lome, the EU's main development instrument, is an aid and trade agreement with 70 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, most which are former European colonies. Africa gets the lion's share of the aid.

There is increasing pressure for change to Lome, because the former colonial powers increasingly feel it is outdated, and because many EU members which were never major colonial powers feel it is not the most appropriate means for delivering assistance. Though Lome contains many of the world's poorest countries, the selection is arbitrary and many other aid recipients are not members.

The present dispute over EDF stems partly from the ad hoc way contributions are calculated. The EDF is not part of the European Union budget and contributions are calculated so that a few member states bear the brunt. The Commission, backed by France, has argued that the next five-year slice of aid should increase to 14.3bn ecus (pounds 11.7bn) from 10.8bn, reflecting inflation and the increase in EU membership.

Several member states have expressed doubts over increasing the EDF, foremost among them Britain and Germany. The latest proposal from the Commission was 13.3bn ecus, about the same in real terms as the last package. But Britain and Germany have continued to resist this. A solution is only likely to be reached as the Cannes summit next month approaches.

The answer to the current problem probably lies in a short- term fix, diplomats and Commission officials say. One option is to reach a deal for a shorter period, with another review in perhaps three years. At that point, the scheme could be renegotiated and perhaps brought within the EU budget.

There are deeper concerns about aid, however, which go beyond the amounts involved. Britain is particularly concerned that an increasing amount of its cash is going through multilateral institutions.

More conditions are likely to be set. ''Those who make the greatest effort should be rewarded; those who don't should be penalised,'' says Mr Pinheiro. Aid is also likely to be increasingly tied to good government, a controversial practice, as aid agencies say it is not entirely clear what it is and that different donors use different definitions.

On his recent visit to Mozambique, Mr Pinheiro said the EU would increasingly take a tough line with countries not keeping to the rules. ''We can't finance a country that is spending huge amounts for the military, or that is not proceeding with democracy, nor can we finance corrupt governments.''

But there are are other problems with EU aid, according to officials on the ground and representatives of non-government organisations. They complain that the EU is too bureaucratic, that policy is driven too much from Brussels and that frequently it overlaps or conflicts with member- state priorities.

The EU is already experimenting with closer on-the-ground co-ordination of aid between member states in a number of countries including Mozambique. But critics say that the EU will have to confront a very basic issue over the next few years: what is EU aid for?

The Lome scheme is almost certainly dead in the longer term, officials said.

''Sooner or later we would have to abandon this idea of a fund,'' said one senior official. Few defend the targeting of assistance on 70 rather arbitrarily chosen countries.

''There are signs that the new EU member states, in particular Sweden, will support a global development policy allocating EU aid on a poverty basis rather than in terms of the past colonial links of some member states,'' the Overseas Development Institute says in its latest briefing paper. But given the present climate for aid in the EU, it may be that this means a reduction in the total volume of assistance. Mr Pinheiro, who wants to reorientate aid to ensure that it survives, contests this. But, he acknowledges, ''In the future, much more important than the quantity of aid will be the quality.''

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform