EU member states diverged in their commitment to maintaining development aid levels but were active in debates about new targets to succeed the Millennium Development Goals.
EU member states followed divergent aid strategies as the financial crisis continued. Some traditional big spenders such as Denmark, Sweden, and the UK increased their aid spending and others such as Germany and Belgium kept spending roughly level or slightly reduced. While Spain has had to make further deep cuts to its development budget, Italy increased its spending for the first time since the financial crisis, adding €100 million to its aid budget (although this still adds up to less than €300 million or roughly one third of its pre-crisis level). Smaller donors under financial pressure such as Cyprus, Greece, and Hungary also made cuts. However, all three Baltic states managed to increase their (admittedly small) aid budgets. Luxembourg, which increased spending, continues to have the highest per capita aid budget in Europe.
The European Commission manages roughly one third of all development funding coming from the EU but NGOs raised concerns that aid flows would fall victim to haggling over the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014–2020, which was finally agreed in November. The Commission had proposed a figure of €70 billion for external spending in this period, but the final bargain allocated €59 billion to this area.
Meanwhile, EU member states were active in debates over development targets to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). British Prime Minister David Cameron co-chaired a panel convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on a potential post-2015 framework (the panel also included representatives from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the European Commission). Other EU member states, including some that have had to cut their aid budgets, made diplomatic investments in these debates, and Ireland has facilitated talks on the MDGs. Although the Cameron panel’s report, released in May, was generally well-received, there were signs that developing countries will push back against some of its recommendations that are perceived as furthering a Western agenda.