"Next Generation EU" banner on the European Commission building (Berlaymont). Copyright: European Commission / Aurore MartignoniToday the Heads of State and Government of the EU Member States start to negotiate the budget of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 and the “Next Generation EU” plan at their special European Council meeting. On this occasion, VENRO calls for the financial instruments for EU external relations to be structured in a way that promotes development and solidarity. Poverty reduction, the sustainability goals of Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement must take centre stage.

“Solidarity with the weakest and the sustainable socio-ecological transformation of our societies are more urgent than ever. The Heads of State and Government must provide the necessary financial resources for EU external relations”, demands Mathias Mogge, Deputy Chairman of VENRO.

The budget negotiations are based on the new proposal for the MFF 2021-2027 and the “Next Generation EU” plan for a total of € 1,85 trillion, presented last week by Charles Michel, President of the European Council. For the EU’s external relations, the budget title “Neighbourhood and the World” now includes EUR 98.4 billion, some EUR 4,3 billion less than the previous proposal of May 2020.

These cuts would affect the “Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument” (NDICI), which will pay for development cooperation and individual EU humanitarian aid measures. The funds for the thematic programmes (human rights and democracy, civil society, stability and peace, global challenges) have also been reduced in the current proposal of the EU Commission.

“The proposed cuts are unacceptable in view of the serious consequences of Covid-19 for the poorest countries and population groups and must be reversed. While we welcome the fact that 15.5 billion euros from the reconstruction plan will now be added for development cooperation and humanitarian aid, the Commission will not be able to accept this reduction. But these are mainly guarantee, credit and blending instruments to leverage public and private investment. This would exacerbate the indebtedness of recipient countries. Mere grants, for instance for the general budgets of partner countries or the promotion of civil-society organisations, are, to our regret, not included”, Mogge criticises.

Against this background, it remains questionable whether the EU member states will achieve their goals of allocating at least 0.7 percent of gross national income to Official Development Assistance (ODA) and spending at least 95 percent of NDICI funds according to ODA criteria. VENRO therefore calls on the Federal Government and Chancellor Merkel to act as a mediator in the negotiations in the Council of the European Union to advocate significantly more solidarity in budget planning. The EU financing instruments must prioritise the improvement of living conditions and emergency aid to overcome hunger and poverty in the EU partner countries and at the same time support the goals of Agenda 2030 and the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

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