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Humanitarian relief and migration crises

59 - International aid

Grade: B-
Unity 2/5
Resources 4/5
Outcome 6/10
Total 12/20
Scorecard 2012: B- (12/20)
Scorecard 2013: B- (11/20)
Scorecard 2013: B (13/20)
Scorecard 2014: B (13/20)
Scorecard 2014: B- (11/20)

EU humanitarian and development aid levels remained constant in 2014, but debate grew on how to respond to development needs in the future.

Preliminary figures suggest that European development budgets remained roughly level in 2014, although a number of EU members (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and Romania) made cuts. After years of reductions, Italy managed a modest increase to its aid spending this year, while Spain hopes to reverse a long decline in its spending in 2015. Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Luxembourg, Sweden, and the UK also maintained or raised aid levels.

There is a growing debate about the value of development aid in some leading donor countries, such as the Nordic countries and the UK. Denmark has merged its development and international trade portfolios, shifting attention to the role of business. A British parliamentary bill putting the UK’s aid commitments on a firm legal basis enjoyed support from many parties but was fiercely criticised by some Conservative MPs.

The future of aid was also a matter of debate at the UN, where diplomats are working on a new generation of development goals to be agreed next year. Hungary’s ambassador to the UN co-chaired negotiations on these goals in the first half of the year and was widely praised for securing a draft deal in the face of many tensions. Some EU members, notably the UK, are concerned, however, that the draft contains over 170 targets, and some significant differences – such as the governance of aid institutions – still need resolution. Ireland’s UN ambassador is leading the follow-on round of talks, which could easily go to the wire in mid-2015.

Humanitarian aid budgets came under pressure as multiple crises raised demand for assistance in Africa and the Middle East.

As in previous years, the European Commission has played a major role in covering gaps in humanitarian assistance, disbursing well over €1 billion in response to crises in the course of the year. But UN agencies have not received all the money they requested from EU and other donors to handle many recent crises.