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Europe

EU fails to meet self-imposed 2010 development goals

The European Union has failed to meet its self-imposed pledge for increasing aid to developing nations. The revelation comes as thousands of refugees flee to Europe from continuing unrest in North Africa.

refugees behind gate on Italian islan of Lampedusa

Refugees are fleeing social unrest in North Africa for Europe

The European Union has failed to meet its 2010 goals for increasing development aid, according to a report issued by the 27-member bloc's executive commission Wednesday.

EU development commissioner Andris Piebalgs said that the bloc's current aid levels are unacceptable in light of the social unrest gripping North Africa. The unrest there has caused a wave of refugees to migrate across the Mediterranean toward Italy.

"It is obvious that these events [the uprisings] should have a positive impact on the commitments of the Europeans in terms of development aid," said Piebalgs.

"If not, we will face the consequences - permanent instability, military conflicts, war," he continued

Shortfall

European countries had pledged to increase their aid for developing countries to 0.56 percent of the EU's combined gross national income (GNI). GNI is a measure of an economy's total value.

The EU managed to reach 0.43 percent of GNI. Although that means that 4.5 billion euro ($6.5 billion) more aid was given than in 2009, it still falls short of Brussels' stated goals.

The shortfall comes at a time of intense economic pressure across the European continent, as European economies such as those of Portugal, Spain and Italy combat budget crises that have affected the overall health of the EU's common currency, the Euro.

The plan to increase development aid is part of a push to meet the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. The MDGs are a set of internationally agreed benchmarks that aim to reduce poverty and increase the overall quality of life in the developing world.

Pro-active development

The EU remains the world's largest aid donor, contributing 53.8 billion euro ($77 billion) total in 2010. However, some non-governmental organizations say Europe is not pro-active enough in its development policies.

Thomas Johnny, an activist with the NGO ActionAid, said the recent unrest in the broader Mideast shows "the need for EU governments to invest in fighting long-term poverty and injustice instead of pouring tax payers' money into short-term, emergency situations."

Author: Spencer Kimball (dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Michael Lawton

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