Some EU member states increased aid while others made cuts. The UK took a prominent role in discussions on the post-2013 development agenda.
In 2012, European development aid budgets continued to come under sustained pressure from the financial crisis. Against the background of the crisis, some EU member states cut aid severely. Preliminary figures suggest that Italy slashed development spending by 50 percent and Spain by 20 percent. The overall picture for the EU is better. France, which cut funds heavily in recent years, did not make further major reductions. The UK resisted intensifying domestic pressure for cuts, although it had to lower its projections for future funding in light of its poor growth figures. Finland, Germany, and Sweden, already significant donors, marginally increased their aid budgets and the Danish government has promised further increases. Even smaller EU donors – such as Malta and many countries in Eastern Europe – raised aid a little over the last year. The European Commission remains a leading donor, but concerns were raised in the last quarter of the year that governments would cut its aid budget by up to 10 percent in deal-making on the overall EU budget.
There were also growing criticisms of EU member states’ allocations of aid to countries affected by the Arab Awakening. Most donors continued to pursue technocratic projects that do not contribute enough to democratisation or social stability (equally, however, Egypt has rejected some EU aid). The EBRD revised its goals to focus on Arab countries as well as established projects in Eastern Europe, but governments were slow to ratify this change of mission. The last year also saw a debate over what targets, if any, will replace the Millennium Development Goals, which are set to expire in 2015. The UK took a prominent role in this debate, and British Prime Minister David Cameron is co-chairing a UN panel on the issue. Further discussions about developing “sustainable” development goals were launched by a disappointing conference in Rio in June. But if European aid spending has stabilised for the moment, there may still be further cuts ahead.
|Leaders: Denmark - Finland - Luxembourg - Netherlands - Sweden - United Kingdom
|Slackers: Austria - Greece - Italy - Malta - Romania - Spain