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Aid works: a Brussels debate

There are reflections on whether the money provided in aid for development is achieving results across the world. Whether this is driven by a desire to maximise development results or by concerns stemming from public austerity programmes, there’s a growing desire to demonstrate ‘value for money’from aid budgets.

In Brussels, this debate is occurring at a key moment – the next Multi-annual Financial Framework is being negotiated and will establish EU spending between 2014 and 2020.

All parts of EU expenditure are under pressure, with EU aid having to demonstrate that it is achieving the desired results.

Earlier this year, Save the Children and UNICEF published a report on Progress in Child Well-Being they jointly commissioned from the Overseas Development Institute.

The Save the Children EU office has now taken the findings of this report and applied them to EU aid, producing a briefing giving five reasons why EU aid has worked.

Five reasons why EU aid works

The briefing examines five reasons why and how EU aid works:

1. We can see the positive impact of EU aid on child survival and the lives of children, whether it’s provided to the budget of developing countries, to specific projects within them or to global initiatives.

2. The EU is a global player based on common values with global commitments. These values of solidarity and equity enable the EU to play a role beyond the 28th donor alongside the member states. It allows the EU to coordinate development policy, to lead and coordinate development efforts overall whilst taking the lead in global negotiations.

3. The majority of EU citizens agree that giving aid is important. Support from EU citizens has remained strong (62% agree) despite the financial crisis and a majority also agree (71%) on a coordinated approach via the European Commission rather than each member state acting alone.

4. There are benefits of targeting EU aid to social areas and to children. Reducing child mortality is closely linked to the protection of mothers’ rights and improving the lives of children necessitates improvements in many sectors.

5. Giving aid is in the EU’s interest in addition to those who receive it.

Agreement on aid

The briefing formed the centre piece of an event debating whether EU Aid works at the Edelman Centre.

This event was attended by Brussels’ EU development policy community: member states representatives in Brussels, staff from the European Parliament, representatives of the WHO and a contribution from the ‘cabinet’ of the Development Commissioner.

The debate concluded that aid works for development, that it works particularly well when focused on children’s needs and that there is an added value of EU aid.

Overall participants agreed that there was mounting evidence of what works and how we can achieve our targets for improving and saving children’s lives.

Significantly there was also agreement on the role the EU can and should play to both coordinate EU donors and to provide aid within the next Multi-annual Financial Framework.


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